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The Joy of Executive Functioning…4/9 Getting organised . Making decisions.

Where is your…?

Have you complained about your child’s organisational skills? How many times have you had to return to school to search for missing hats, jumpers, drink bottles etc? Or find they have left their goggles at swimming, along with their socksJ Or have had teachers write comments on reports about not bringing equipment to class…..Or perhaps you ask them what they want and they stare at you blankly?

These examples are common for children – and adults – who have executive function deficits.  It’s hard to remember what’s needed, hard to complete tasks without prompting or multiple reminders (As adults there is a reason we use calendars, reminders on our phones etc!), adhere to deadlines, or keep an orderly environment (desk, room, locker). As parents, we tend to try behaviour charts, rewards and consequences in order tyo train our children to do “the right thing”. We assume they can certainly do these things – but they just aren’t. And we get frustrated.

But, what if our child genuinely can’t do these things? Children with executive function deficits have a genuine problem with staying organised. It’s not a choice. Their brain is developing just a bit differently. Such children need to be supported to stay organised.

In general, children need to be organised in several aspects of their lives:

  • Work and living spaces
  • Time management
  • Materials required to complete a task

One thing that helps them learn organisation is to provide visual supports for these children. Often words words arenot be enough, and often, children with executive functioing issues have problems hearing and processing auditory information. Frequently, they also often have language difficulties.

There are some young children who may have difficulty completing daily routines such as bathing, dressing, making the bed etc. Older children and adolescents may show evidence of organisational difficulties by procrastinating around daily routines. Scheduling your child’s time (dinner, homework, free time, bedtime, etc.) using a visual tool will enable your child to learn to be independent but provide them with needed supports. Using a timer and a reward system could be helpful as well. Other tips to assist children are, ‘ chunking’ a task in small parts like cleaning the wardrobe, then the bed etc. Using a thought organiser about how to start and complete a task and graphic organisers are helpful. A useful website to read about it and find them are: www.freeology.com

Furthermore, to assist your child with decision making skills, a visual transitional schedule will be helpful. Give them information ahead of time where possible to allow them to process the choice. Also, providing children with (visual) limited choices and giving them the ‘ power’ to choose between tasks including a demanding one (e.g. maths) and a less demanding one (e.g. drawing). Providing appropriate reinforcers for the demanding and less demanding tasks accomplished is also helpful to motivate your child.

These are a few handy tips to help get your child organised. For more great tips, or to discuss any concerns you may have, please call us on 6231 1043. We’d love to hear  from you:)