Academics / Behavior / Social Thinking

Visual Organization Planning – Autism

           Kids with Autism often struggle in the area of Executive Functioning or “Organized Thinking.”   Our kids can be very “smart” and have a cognitive black hole with regards to intuitively learning organized thinking and related skills spontaneously.
              Organized Thinking for our kids is about actively teaching concepts to work through the process….rather than go through the motions to create the product. As a teacher, we often focus on the kids just getting a task finished instead of helping them figure out what to do. We need to explicitly teach the kids how to teach themselves how to do things.
Over time our kids’ organizational skills improve but they don’t keep pace with the increased developmental expectations each year. Organizational Skills are quite complex!
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People with poor organizational skills typically have poor Executive Functioning.  It is a neurologically-based (comes from the brain) skills involving mental control and self-regulation.   This problem co-exists with diagnoses such as ASD, Asperger Syndrome, ADHD, learning disabilities, cognitive impairments, mental health challenges, etc.

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“Get Ready, Do and Done” is a Sarah Ward & Social Thinking Strategy to help establish goals and action plans. This is a visual strategy .  Our kids have a stronger visual working memory than language based working memory.  When learning strategies for organization visual information may have more value than simply language based information.

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1.  Start Time: Mark the clock with the start time.

2. Choose Activity: This will be the activity/task you will be organizing & planning  (e.g. civil war writing assignment,  biology science project, etc)
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Discuss: Is this activity/task something new or similiar to something you have done (we need to keep in mind that new activities tend to take longer)

1. What does “done” look like?  When helping students who are working on a part of their larger homework assignment/project (e.g. in a resource class),  “DONE” can mean just for that period of time and not the entire assignment.  Draw a picture with the student to help them get a sense of what it will look like when it is done.

2. Plan Time:  Figure out how long the activity will take to help them realize the size of the activity/task.  (e.g. resource period = 60 minutes)

3. Feelings:  How will I feel when I am done?  

Discuss: Why bother doing this? Reinforce that we go through these “hassles” in life to reach the reward/payoff.  It’s not about the “moment” but instead about the “destination” aka end goal.  We h1. Materials:  What Materials do you need to complete the steps of the  activity/task.  List ALL materials (all the materials to get ready)comfortable with things we don’t find comfortable.
                            A closer look:
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1. Materials:  What Materials do you need to complete the steps of the  activity/task.  List ALL materials (all the materials to get ready)

2. Plan Time: How long will it take to list and  gather my materials?

3. Body Readiness:  What do I need to do to get my body ready to focus?  (e.g. sensory break,  bathroom,  free-time)  Make sure to add the amount of time it will take.

4. Get Ready Plan Time Block:  Plan out how long it will take to do all of the components:  make a list of materials, gather materials and get your body ready.

Discuss: Look back with hindsight – What have you learned about a task like this before?  (Imagine what was the same / different from past experiences.  What was easy? What was hard?)
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                                 A closer look:
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Discuss: Productivity – Make the student aware of how they are working with regards to time .
Use an Abacus to track productivity –  Every time the student completes a task step, he moves a ball on the abacus over.  (This helps to develop an understanding of productivity by how many tasks they are able to complete).

  • What does it look like when you are working?
  • Are you brainstorming?  Planning? Writing?
  • Asking for help? What if you get stuck?
  • How can you eliminate distractions?

1. Listing the Steps:  Write down the steps in order of what needs to be done to complete this activity/task.  Time Plan: Write down how much time each task should take.

Discuss: This is to help control your pace so that your can move from one task to the next.

2. Halfway Point:  Set a halfway point of where the student should be (highlight the specific task on the task step chart)    

Discuss:  This is a self check in on the time spent and your pace.

3. Time Plan: Mark the halfway time on the clock as a visual reminder.
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                            A closer look:
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1. Feelings: How is the student feeling now that the the student is done. (e.g. relief, happiness, proud)

2. Plan Time:  Mark the clock with the end time.

3. Productivity:  Did you accomplish/complete the activity/task?

Discuss:  Reflection Time

  • How did you manage your time?
  • What struggles did you have when moving through the steps?

– If there is a roadblock to getting to any of these steps, put a roadblock symbol in the place where the problem emerged. (then discuss that roadblocks are tackled with strategies)

– What strategies can help to manage the roadblock? (This can help regulate your anxiety and stress)  

– List strategies on the back of the paper to refer to next time

  • How could you improve for next time?
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                                 A closer look:
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