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Volume 92

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Hi, I’m Craig Kendall, the author of The Asperger’s Syndrome Survival Guide. In today’s issue we will discuss…

Asperger’s Syndrome Treatment – Teaching Organizational Skills

One key part in Asperger’s syndrome treatment is teaching organization skills. “How do I get him organized?” is one of the most common questions therapists and special educators hear. Many kids with Asperger’s syndrome have what is known as executive functioning deficits. This means that planning ahead, or remembering information that is not personally relevant to their interests, tends to fall by the wayside. They get distracted easily and forget what they need to be doing.

How Can You Help Teach Organization Skills?

Asperger’s syndrome treatment consists of many different treatment methods and forms. This is something that your speech therapist, your occupational therapist, and whoever else works with your Asperger’s child can all take a part in across the board. Of course, it is very important to reinforce and practice these skills at home every chance you get.

Monthly Calendars

Most kids with Asperger’s syndrome are visual learners. You should have a calendar on the wall of all the family’s events so that everyone knows what is happening. But you should go a step further. Have your child with Asperger’s syndrome help you to make the calendar.

You may not think of this as an Asperger’s syndrome treatment, but it is. Anything that helps your child practice organizational skills is helpful.┬áTell her the event and have her write it down in the appropriate place in the calendar. This models planning out one’s days and weeks.

Weekly Calendars

Every week, print out sheets that have the days of the week on them. Have your child write down their events and activities (hopefully if they are older, they will be aware of the ones that affect them, but if they are younger or are not, you can help them, or they can copy from the master calendar). Again, this helps children with Asperger’s syndrome visualize their week. This way there are no surprises. And always remember, children with Asperger’s syndrome hate surprises and thrive on routine.

Daily Calendars

The hardest thing for children with Asperger’s syndrome can be getting organized on a day-to-day schedule. Each night, you should have your child write out a list of things they have to do the next day (history paper, band practice, geography homework, family dinner, etc.) to get them in the habit of planning ahead.

What Will I Need to Have to Do this Activity?

For every event, ask your child what they might have to do to get ready for that event. For example, if they have ice hockey practice, they might say “Have my skates and uniform ready.” If there is a birthday party for a classmate, you might remind them that you need to get a present (together, depending on the child’s age). If the child, for example, wants to go to the movies with a friend, you might remind him to save enough money from his allowance–anything to focus on the concept of knowing what’s coming up and what you want to do to prepare for it.

What Do I Need to Do to Get Ready?

Another key part in Asperger’s syndrome treatment and organization planning is knowing what you need to do any given task. Have your child write out what textbooks or other material for school they may need for their assignments. If you’re going on a trip, have them write down ahead of time everything they think they are going to need to pack–and then check the list. Teach them that lists can be your friend.

Also have them plan out in their mind the sequence they need to take to do a desired activity. Did they use the bathroom before they left the house? Did they have something to eat so they won’t be hungry when they reach their destination? If necessary, have them write a list of steps that need to be taken before leaving the house.

This may sound like an awful lot of lists and preparation, but this is what is required to live in the adult world. You need to be able to plan ahead. One of the most common statements said to people with Asperger’s syndrome – “What were you thinking?” can be largely avoided if you make every effort to teach them to think ahead. Usually, the answer is that they weren’t–or that they were distracted by something else.

Eventually, after a lot of practices with the lists, the lists may no longer be necessary. It may take some time, but it is entirely possible to teach your child or young adult to become more organized. A lot of Asperger’s syndrome treatment is simply rote repeating of behaviors or mental sequences until they become more naturally ingrained in the person’s head.

A great source of valuable tips and information can ge gotten from other parents with children on the autism spectrum. My books include a great many practical tips for helping your loved one thrive with Asperger’s syndrome.

12 Responses to Aspergers Syndrome Treatment: Teaching Organizational Skills -92

  1. christa Pritchett says:

    My son has Aspergers and he shaves and counts to 10 for about 3hrs a day. How can I get him to stop this? I thought it was just one of the things he was stuck on and it would only last a week but it’s been months. I’ve tried everything with nothing helping…

    • Craig Kendall - Author says:

      I am not sure if I understand. He shaves and while he does this he counts to 10? And does he shave for 3 hours per day or just counts to 10 for 3 hours per day? Folks with Aspergers crave routine. Sometimes repetitive activities allow a person to feel calm and safe but this seems excessive. Does he have a therapist? I suggest that you speak with a therapist trained to help adults with autism and have your unique case evaluated.

  2. Michelle says:

    I know you are doing a valuable job with your website I have learned alot. My asberger sister just died in a extremely freak accident but the last three years of her life have been so much happier as she understood that she was “okay” she just had asbergers. She had spent so many years alone and knowing she was different once she realized she wasn’t alone it gave her a new perspective on life. Thank you so much you will never know all the good your website does for so many people.

  3. Kimberly says:

    List making has been a life saver! I am an adult with Asperger’s and lists are how I get through life…really. I do a daily list…including what to wear. I also make plans of what can probably go wrong with events so that I can have a back up plan–otherwise I will have a melt down. I have been teased about my lists, but they help me function! Please…to all those trying to help Asperger’s people…don’t miss this step!

  4. LYNDA VAUGH says:

    Hi Craig Kendall, what do you do with a 15 year old who is lazy. To get them to sit and do all the things you just describe. sincerely


    • Craig Kendall says:

      Lazy is a relative term. Do you mean he hangs around watching TV or plays on his computer while you clean, cook and do laundry? Well that is the definition of a teenager! I have been through it.

      To get help from a teen with Asperger’s first talk to him or her when you are calm — not when you are frustrated and annoyed. Explain that you love them, that you think that he/she is smart and capable and that you need their help. Work WITH him to come up with possible chores he can help with. DOCUMENT in WRITING what he has agreed to do — sort of a chores list. Put this up on the refrigerator or some other visible area. Follow up! Remind him about his responsibilities and ask him to do what he promised he would do.

      This is not always easy but the goal is to establish a routine where he agrees to do certain chores and then does them. GOOD LUCK!!

  5. Penny Bennett says:

    Your newsletters are brilliant. I always fine something I can ‘use’, it’s so practical and accessible. I live with a partner with mild autism traits (I think), also a son and 2 work colleagues so your information is invaluable. Many thanks for your incredible knowledge.

  6. KAREN says:

    Thank u for all the helpful e mails-much appreciated. I have 1 MAJOR CONCERN: My 11 yr old daughter has for example been doing the same action for years, and then 1 day it is just GONE, like it never was any part of her life at all. This is extremely frustrating to say the least. Do u perhaps have SOMETHING for me regarding this and how I’m supposed to handle this pls? I’m a single mom with a lot of health issues and trying my best to cope with all the challenges of Aperger’s with most people that don’t have a clue as to what it entails.Thanx for ur support. Kind regards.Karen Gray

    • Craig Kendall - Author says:

      I am not quite sure what type of action you are referring to. Perhaps sit down with her when you are both calm and open to talking and ask her about this.

    • F. M. Langan says:

      I’m not positive I understand what you’re saying, but I THINK it is the same puzzling behavior as my grandson. He “used to” be able to call friends–now using the phone throws him into a panic–even to order a pizza; he “used to” sleep alone–now has great difficulty doing so; he “used to” shower regularly–now he panics at having to be alone with his thoughts in the shower–he :used to” be very social (even though he could be very argumentative), but bot he has isolated himself to a very sad degree—even though he cries that he is so lonely. It seems as though he has lost several positive qualities that he once had. But, on the other hand, he has gained more insight into himself and others, he has become more compassionate and helpful in some ways. It’s just all very confusing.

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