Organisation skills

Organisation is the ability to be systematic and efficient. Organisational skills involve utilising time, energy and resources in an effective way so that you achieve the things you want or need to achieve. These are skills which people generally acquire over time through trial and error. Some teenagers with autism have difficulty organising their thoughts, personal belongings and school resources and therefore may need to be taught organisational strategies. The more organisational skills are practised, the greater the likelihood the teenager with autism will succeed in their educational, vocational and personal pursuits. Below are some strategies that may help improve organisational skills.

  • Visual supports e.g. pictures, written lists, first and then, calendars, colour coded timetables, apps and real objects – can all be good ways of helping teenagers with autism to understand what is going to happen and when.
    • Helpful apps include:
    • Visual and physical clutter in the environment and around work areas should be kept to a minimum to enable the teenager with autism to find items and to organise resources. This can include:
    • Colour coding can be used to indicate the importance or significance of tasks (and therefore help to prioritise tasks and work through them in a logical sequence), e.g. work in a red tray or file could be urgent, work in a green tray or file could be pending, while work in a blue tray or file is not important or has no timescale attached to it.
    • Dictaphones can be a useful auditory reminder of tasks, work, events or deadlines, and may be used by some teenagers with autism instead of taking written notes.
    • Livescribe or Smart Pens can be useful tools to record written notes on tablets or smartphones.
    • Supportive Voice Activated Software can be used to transcribe spoken words to text.
    • Mobile phones, computers and tablets can be used to store important information, or to act as a reminder. Computer calendars can have important dates stored on them, or reminders about when to submit homework. Alarms can be set to come on at a particular time as a reminder to do something, e.g. to go out to a social event. Instructions can be sent by text or email – text messages lend themselves to this especially well as you are forced to keep instructions brief and simple. A text message or email is also an unobtrusive way of contacting or supporting a teenager with autism – they won’t stand out from the crowd.
    • Social stories™ and comic strip conversations can be used to help a teenager with autism understand the consequences of not being and being organised.