How to Help Teens with Autism with Organization Skills

How to Help Teens with Autism with Organization Skills

how to help your teen with autism become more organized

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 How to Help Teens with Autism Become More Organized

This is a question I hear from my readers and on the internet a lot. Do you have any tips on how I can help my teen become more organized? He is constantly losing his homework and his room is so messy. He doesn’t know how to find things in his bedroom and always needs my help. Is there any way that I can help him become more organized to find things on his own??

I decided I wanted to look more into these questions and see what information I could find as it relates to organizational strategies and autism. I am not an expert in this area, but I wanted to share with you resources and information I found while looking up information about organization and executive function skills. I know these skills have a huge impact on their everyday life skills. I did my best to find helpful tips and strategies as well as include tips and advice from autistic adults.

 

Why Organization can be Difficult to Learn for Teens with Autism

Some individuals with autism may have difficulty with cognitive function skills. They may have difficulty with processing information, problem-solving, coming up with solutions, and predicting consequences of an action. They can have difficulty thinking ahead to the future, so if you tell them a date or time to remember in the future, they may have difficulty remembering it. They may also have difficulty understanding the concept of time. If your teen is struggling with any of these areas, they may also have difficulty with organizational skills. 

It is important to note, that not all individuals with autism will struggle with executive function and organizational skills. 

What is Executive Function?

Executive Functions are a set of cognitive processes that help all of us to:

  • Plan and organize daily tasks
  • Be flexible between focusing on a task and then shifting our attention to performing another task
  • Multitasking
  • Manage time-constrained activities
  • Remember things in our mind for a short duration (working memory)
  • Control our impulses
  • Prioritize what is important in our day
  • Monitor ourselves with self-awareness
  • Initiate a plan (knowing when to start an activity) 

This information was obtained from https://researchautism.org/understanding-executive-functions/

Teens with autism mature at a slower pace in executive skills

“Teens with autism mature at a slower pace in executive skills. They may have particular trouble with flexibility, organization, initiating activities and working memory. In kids with an autism spectrum disorder, cognitive flexibility is the standout problem for them and seems to remain a problem as they get older,” (Rosenthal, et.al 2013).

So how can we help them improve with their executive function skills and organization skills?

 Tips for Success with Organization 

Now that we know what executive function skills are, what strategies can we use to help them with these skills? These are tips I have learned through personal experiences with my family or with clients and then additional strategies I have found through research. 

  • Figure out if these skills are important to them: Figure out if them being unorganized is a priority for them. If losing their homework or having a dirty room is not a priority to them, then they will most likely not want to work with you to improve in this area.  If this is the case, then you may need to wait until they are ready to work on this skill or figure out a way to talk to them about why these skills are important.
  • Get an understanding of their needs and work with them together: Before starting any plan of how to help, you need to have a clear picture of what their needs are in order to help them. What specific thing are they having a hard time figuring out?
  • Make a plan: Start with one specific task and make a plan. Write out the plan on paper or on your phone to keep track of what you did and how it worked. That way you have a way to reflect on what is working well and not so well.
  • Make Lists: Find a visual way to help remember things: You could use written lists or checklists, or use sticky notes to place on mirrors or outside of doors to help give reminders.
  • Find ways to use reminders that work for your teen: this could be alarm reminders set on their phone or iPad or a clock. You could use a watch that goes off at specific times for reminders. Or you could also use a planner or calendar.
  • Visual Supports: We kind of already talked about this above, but setting up visual supports can really help. These can include a to-do list, calendars, planners, real objects, step by step instructions, or labels to help organize.
  • Set up the environment for success: If there is a specific area of the home or a specific area at school you are wanting to help them organize think about how you can set up that space to make things as simple and easy for them to organize or put things away. Work with the teen in this process though, because you need to use a system that works for them. Everyone is different and has different ideas on what works for them. When we organized the laundry room area for my brother to allow him more independence to help put towels and certain clothes away, we used baskets where he could see into them so he could easily sort and figure out what goes where.
  • Social Stories: Social stories can be used to help talk about different social situations when it comes to being organized. Such as remembering your homework, cleaning your room, keeping a clean desk and locker at school. 
  • Start Thinking in Questions: I learned this technique from myaspergerschild.com after learning her strategies for organization. This technique makes sense to me because I personally do this myself. I am always asking myself questions throughout the day so that I don’t forget things. This is something that you may need to teach to others as this may not come easy to them.  She suggested you start by practicing by saying the questions out loud as they come up and you think about them. 
  • Be clear about expectations: This one is huge for me personally, when we are trying to learn something new and doing something that is hard for us we need to really be clear about our expectations. Don’t try to do too much at once. Think about one specific change that you can make to help with organization. The more you change the more you can start to feel overwhelmed and then you will be more likely to go back to your old habits or feel bad about yourself. You may get upset that you didn’t figure out a good technique to work on organization and executive function skills. 

Some helpful Tips and Resources from Autistic Adults on Organizational Strategies.

I have always wanted to have a better understanding of what it is like to have autism in order to better help my brother and the clients I was serving. As professionals and as parents we have a lot to learn about autism and now with the internet, there are so many more ways to learn and hear about autism through autistic adults. I am going to do my best to help provide you with opportunities to learn from autistic adults. 

Below you will find either blog posts or videos from autistic adults with information about organization strategies.

Autistic Mama has a blog post with 3 super helpful tips for executive function tips for autistic adults. She also has a free download with10 additional free tips! Check out her post Doable Executive Functioning Tips for Autistic Adults here!  

The Aspie World has a YouTube Channel where he explains a lot of topics about his life with Aspergers. He has a great video about Time Management. You can check out the YouTube Video Here.

He has another video with 7 Time Management Tips you can check that out here

Autistic Not Weird has a great post about Growing Up Autistic. It is not specifically geared towards organization skills, but it has great advice for teenagers with autism. Check it out here!

Some Helpful Products to Teach Executive Functioning and Organization Skills

Your Therapy Source has created an Executive Functioning Resource that is a digital workbook that is a step by step guide to help boost your student’s working memory, impulse control, focus, emotional control, organization, planning, and self-monitoring!

Smart but Scattered Teens: The Executive Skills Program for Helping Teens Reach Their Potential by Richard Guare, Peg Dawson, and Colin Guare created an awesome resource!  This positive guide provides a science-based program for promoting teens’ independence by building their executive skills–the fundamental brain-based abilities needed to get organized, stay focused, and control impulses and emotions.

 Final Thoughts on Organization tips 

Organization skills are a higher level skill and it will take time to learn these skills and find a process that works for the teen you are working with. Have patience and understanding as they are trying to find a strategy that works for them. Things will hopefully go better when you can stay calm when working with them to find strategies that work for them.

One final thought, there is no specific timeline for teens to learn specific skills and understand that it is a process and everyone learns different skills at different rates and times. Autistic Mama has a great article explaining how no one knows your autistic child’s future. 

Additional Resources for Organizational Strategies and Tips for Teens with Autism 

Information from the National Autistic Society about Organization, Sequencing and prioritizing. 

Helping your Child with Autism Get Organized video on YouTube by Autism Grown Up

Autism in the Teen Years: What to expect, how to help by Marina Sarris at the Interactive Autism Network 

Here is an amazing list of Actually Autistic blogs that you can check out if you would like to learn more about autism through their point of view. https://anautismobserver.wordpress.com

Teaching Organizational Skills by Diane Adreon M.A. and Heather Willis PsyD. from the Autism Support Network

Getting Your Life Organized from Autism-Help.org

Organization Skills for Children with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism by myaspergerschild.com

Let me know in the comments below what tips and resources you find helpful or if there is anything else I should add to the list!

How to help teens with autism with organization skills

References:

Rosenthal, M., Wallace, G.L., Lawson, R., Wills, M.C., Dixon, E., Yerys, B.E. & Kenworthy, L. (2013) Impairments in real-world executive function increase from childhood to adolescence in autism spectrum disorders. Neuropsychology. 2013 Jan;27(1):13-8. View abstract

Free Resources for Making Friends for Teens

Free Resources for Making Friends for Teens

Making Friends

Do you have a teenager that has difficulty making friends at school? Friendships can be difficult for some teenagers to form and then maybe even more difficult once they leave school. Making friends can sometimes be a hard skill for teens on the autism spectrum. They may have a hard time understanding how to make conversation or how to ask someone questions to get to know them better. It could be hard to find mutual interests. Or they may not even be interested in making friends. It can be hard to learn who is actually a friend and who may be someone taking advantage of you…

They may have difficulty reading body language to understand if someone is interested in what they are saying or not. They may have a hard time understanding how to work together or when playing games how to share. There are a lot of skills that go into making friends and these can be overwhelming and difficult to teach at times.

That is why we wanted to put together some FREE resources and websites for you to check out to see if they may help you and your teen with making friends. Finding meaningful friendships can have a wonderful social impact for all teens throughout their life.

Free Resources for Making Friends for Teens #friendships

Free Resouces!

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure statement for further details. 

 

Check out our Free Social Situation Cards below! Feel free to download them by entering your name and email below. When you download this freebie you will also be signing up for our weekly newsletter!

Social Situations for Making Friends

 

We hope you find these free resources helpful on your journey to help your teen with friendships. Let us know in the comments below which freebie is your favorite or if there is anything else you would like to add!

Books about Sensory Processing For Teens

Books about Sensory Processing For Teens

Books about Sensory Processing For Teens #sensory #teens

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy for further details. 

Books about Sensory Processing For Teens

As a family, we know that it can be difficult to find books and resources about sensory processing for teens. there just isn’t a lot out there and lots of the sensory activities can be geared towards little kids. We wanted to let you know about some amazing resources that we did find about sensory processing for teens and we hope that you find these books helpful as well as we did.

Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues

The Out-of-Sync Child Grows Up: Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder in the Adolescent and Young Adult Years (The Out-of-Sync Child Series)

The Sensory Team Handbook: A hands-on tool to help young people make sense of their senses and take charge of their sensory processing

The Aspie Teen’s Survival Guide: Candid Advice for Teens, Tweens, and Parents, from a Young Man with Asperger’s Syndrome

Let us know if you find these books to be helpful for your teen in the comments below!

 

Fidgets for Teens with Autism and Sensory Processing Difficulties

Fidgets for Teens with Autism and Sensory Processing Difficulties

Fidgets for Teens with Autism and Sensory Processing Difficulties #fidget #sensory #autism

*This post contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy for further details. 

Fidget Toys for Teens

Fidget toys and objects can be a great way to help teens with sensory processing difficulties calm down, organize, focus, and keep their attention. They can be a great tool when the teen is anxious, stressed, or needing to keep their focus in a classroom. It can be a challenge sometimes to find fidgets that teens will want to use. We have created a huge list of ideas for fidgets that your teen may like to use.

 

 

Flyspin Golden Wheel Hand Spinners 6 Sided Cool Metal Fidget Spinner DIY Toys With Premium Ceramic Bearing (Assembly Model)Flyspin Golden Wheel Hand Spinners 6 Sided Cool Metal Fidget Spinner DIY Toys With Premium Ceramic Bearing (Assembly Model)Infinity Cube Fidget Toy, Luxury EDC Fidgeting Game for Kids and Adults, Cool Mini Gadget Spinner Best for Stress and Anxiety Relief and Kill Time, Unique Idea that is Light on the Fingers and HandsInfinity Cube Fidget Toy, Luxury EDC Fidgeting Game for Kids and Adults, Cool Mini Gadget Spinner Best for Stress and Anxiety Relief and Kill Time, Unique Idea that is Light on the Fingers and Hands5-Pack of Stretchy String Fidget / Sensory Toys (BPA/Phthalate/Latex-Free) - Stretches from 10 Inches to 8 Feet!5-Pack of Stretchy String Fidget / Sensory Toys (BPA/Phthalate/Latex-Free) – Stretches from 10 Inches to 8 Feet!Spiky Sensory Ring / Bracelet Fidget Toy (Pack of 3) - BPA/Phthalate/Latex-Free - Fidget Toys / Sensory ToysSpiky Sensory Ring / Bracelet Fidget Toy (Pack of 3) – BPA/Phthalate/Latex-Free – Fidget Toys / Sensory Toys

Is My Teen with Autism Ready for Dating?

Is My Teen with Autism Ready for Dating?

Teens with Autism and Dating

Thinking about your teen dating can be scary for some parents, but we want to help make this process a little easier for you. Navigating the social aspects of dating can be difficult for teens with autism. Just like many other social skills many individuals may need to be taught specific skills to help them with dating. Dating can be a complex skill to learn.

Always listen to your teen and watch for their desire to want to date. Always go off of what your teen is telling you and showing you. Don’t force your teen to do something if they are not interested or don’t want to do it. Everyone has their own preferences and show interest in dating at different times in their lives.

Is My Teen with Autism Ready for Dating #autism #dating #teen #socialskills

*This post may contain affiliate links. There is no extra cost to you, but we may earn a commission. Please see our disclosure statement for further details. 

How can you tell if your teen is ready for dating?

All teens develop at different rates and have different interests in dating. Follow your teens lead, if you see that they are showing interest or asking you questions about dating help them through this complex situation. Pay attention to their nonverbal behaviors as well to help you decide if they are interested in dating.

Physical Maturity

A teen’s social maturity may not be the same as their physical maturity. Some teens may feel the physical desire for dating and sexuality before the social competence for dating. If your teen is asking you questions about their physical appearance/changes and their desire for sexuality be open to talk with them about these topics. Talk to your teen in a way that makes sense to them. If they learn best through direct concrete answers or through pictures/videos, help provide these opportunities for them to learn about the changes in their bodies.

Be Proactive and have Open Dialogue with your Teen about Dating and Sexuality

Sex and dating are very complex social situations. If you think your teen may be sexually active or dealing with opportunities for sexual activity don’t delay these conversations. It is important that we can protect your teen as best as you can from getting into unsafe situations. It is crucial to talk about safe sex and helping them to understand how pregnancy can occur. If you feel uncomfortable about talking about these situations with your teen is there someone you can reach out to for help? You could reach out to your teen’s doctor especially if you have concerns about health related questions.

Provide role playing opportunities to practice dating situations

One way to practice some of the complex social situations involved with dating would be to role play common situations. You could also try social stories, social scripts, modeling appropriate behaviors, video modeling, or an acting class. Social situations that you could role play and talk about for dating could be:

  • how to compliment
  • how to show interest in someone
  • how to talk with a peer you like
  • how to read nonverbal behavior
  • when to smile
  • how to use good manners
  • how to be respectful of another person
  • how to show affection
  • appropriate physical touch
  • how to stay safe
  • conflict resolution
  • safety in public areas

Have open conversations about how to stay safe with dating

We want to do whatever we can to help our teen stay safe and not get taken advantage of in this complex social situation. Discuss who, when, where, and how to ask someone out.

  • Who is appropriate for you to ask out?
    • Someone around your age
    • who shows interest in you
    • is nice to you
    • talks to you
    • someone you like
  • When is it appropriate to ask someone out?
    • After you have gotten to know someone better
    • When you have noticed that you both seem to be interested in each other
  • Where is it appropriate to ask someone out?
    • Usually in a more private setting when not a lot of people are around
    • typically it is best to do it in person, but you can also call someone on the phone.
    • Texting may not be as a personal way to ask someone out
  • How do you ask someone out?
    • in person you can ask if they are free at a certain time that you could go to a place of mutual interest
    • make sure to get contact information to confirm the date, time, and location ahead of time
  • How do you show appropriate touch during a date?
    • Make sure to talk about safe and appropriate physical touch
      • talk about how to hold hands, give a hug, or a kiss
      • talk about inappropriate types of physical touch and how to read body cues and signs of how someone may like or not like the type of touch.
  • Discuss different levels of intimacy
    • Help them understand the difference between hand holding, hugging, kissing, and more intimate types of touching to help them stay safe.
  • Talk about the steps/routine of a typical date
    • Make sure your teen knows when and where the date will take place
    • how they will get to the location
    • what they may do at the location (dinner, movie, bowling, party)
  • Help them understand appropriate personal hygiene cares and dressing skills

Dating is a complex social situation

We need to remember that dating is complex and overwhelming social situation. This may cause our teen frustration, anxiety, fear, or anger. Please be aware of how your teen is feeling about dating and be ready to help them through this situation as it pertains to them. Help them understand that rejection may also be apart of dating and how to help them through this as well. Help them understand that someone may not be interested in them even though they are interested. Or that someone may be too busy to date. It can be impossible to understand why someone may not be interested in you and this could be a hard skill for some teens to cope with.

Dating can be a positive situation and we need to stay proactive and help our teens through these unique situations. The more we can support our teen’s desires for dating and have open dialogue about the social situations it can be seen as a rewarding and positive experience.

Teens and Dating Social Situation Cards #dating #socialskills #autism #teens


Do you have further questions about dating? We would love to hear your advice and comments below.

Resources you will love!

Everyday Life Skills Personal Hygiene Skills in the Bathroom

Everyday Life Skills Personal Hygiene Skills Ebook #lifeskills #personalhygieneskills #autism

 

 

 

 

Being a Teen: Everything Teen Girls & Boys Should Know About Relationships, Sex, Love, Health, Identity & More

 

The 10 Myths of Teen Dating: Truths Your Daughter Needs to Know to Date Smart, Avoid Disaster, and Protect Her Future

Dating Smarts – What Every Teen Needs To Date, Relate Or Wait