Executive Function and Organization
Organizational Tools for School
Students with ASD often have a very uneven learning profile. For example, they may have excellent long-term and rote memory abilities but have executive function deficits. Executive function challenges can include difficulties with general organization and planning skills, problems with impulsivity and problem-solving, and challenges with goal completion. Common learning challenges and possible accommodations and supports include:
- Providing notes or review sheets
- Using work checklists to complete assignments
- Setting deadlines for completion of portions of projects along the way
- Hands-on learning, models, demonstrations, and other visual modalities
- Extra time for tests
- Separate “quiet” place for taking tests
- Use of calendars to record events, deadlines, reminders
- Use of phones or portable media players w/alarms and reminders
- Cameras to gather visual reminders of locations, materials, etc.
- Portable audio recorders to quickly record thoughts and ideas in the moment
- Organizational tools, both high- and low-tech (PDAs, computers, syncing electronic calendars, binder, folders, notebooks, etc.)
The Do2Learn website offers many free downloads and examples of visual strategies for organization and support. This web-based resource was launched in 1996 through a National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovative Research grant and has expanded to include many pages of social skills and behavioral regulation activities and guidance, learning songs and games, communication cards, academic material, and transition guides for employment and life skills.