Organization Skills for ASD

Tools to Improve Organization Skills of Child with Autism

Many individuals on the autism spectrum encounter some aspect of difficulty with organization. Organization skills are a prerequisite for school success and should be explicitly taught to students with autism. Organization becomes increasingly more important as students progress through grades, as tasks are more complex, demands increase, and responsibility around self-monitoring is encouraged. The following are some steps and reminders when teaching students with autism organizational skills:

  1. Clearly define what is required. Avoid assumptions that all students on the spectrum are aware and know how to complete organizational tasks. Help students approach the task from an organized perceptive and how to plan the timeline. Bigger assignments may require ‘chunking’ material. Adults can help students plan this and model how it should look.

  2. Provide visual supports to students that help outline the task and/or activity. For example, how to schedule important dates within a calendar is a crucial skill to learn as children become adults. They lean to schedule their time, keep track of important dates, and places they need to go. How to use checklists and to-do lists are also important to teach students. This provides a visual support to keep individuals organized and visually represent the steps to complete a task or the list of items that require completion. Checklists can be created to help students complete assignments, papers, writing, reading, etc.

  3. Teach students that papers are not crumbled in a ball at the bottom of a book bag or locker and should be placed in folders or binders. A standard of work expected from teachers is important to learn for school and further work experience.

  4. Teach organizational skills in the environment in which it needs to take place. Many teachers attempt to set up different color binders or folders for different classes and set aside time each day to help the student go through papers, scheduling, and reminders. The student is provided with time they can focus on organization without the worry of other academic tasks. It also delivers explicit teaching in a small group or one-on-one environment.

  5. Teach how to prioritize. This skill is not natural to all students and some are not aware of the more important tasks throughout the day. Help students develop priorities and understand the biggest value associated with each priority. Especially difficult for students on the spectrum is learning the more desirable choices sometimes come last. Teach them to take small, scheduled breaks during the less preferred task to obtain the preferred items.

  6. These skills should be taught in small increments and may require additional reinforcement for the demonstration of skills. Students may receive or work towards a reward when homework is completed on time or when checklists are finalized.

  7. Although not common, teaching organizational skills could be included in the student’s Individual Education Program Plan (IEP)

Various tools and assistive technology can help students with autism to learn to organize better

Sources: Teach Organizational Skills, POPARD

Talk Pad - Sequencing" Talk Pad

The physical layout of the "buttons" on this device works well for focusing on sequence stories, because the four buttons are positioned from left-to-right, rather than the Cheap Talk 4, where the buttons are located 2 above and 2 below. Each step of a sequence story can be prerecorded on each of the four buttons in sequential order. The four corresponding sequence story pictures are placed in front of the child not in order. As the child presses the first button in the left-to-right sequence of buttons, he hears the auditory message for the first sequence picture. He can then select the corresponding picture to that message as the first picture in the sequence story, and place it on top of the first button using Velcro. This continues with each of the subsequent buttons and pictures. Printed sentences can also be used in place of pictures for the sequence story.

Visual Schedules for Home Routines BUNDLE: Dressing, Morning, Evening, & Bedtime


Flexible and Editable Visual Schedules for Self-Help Skills. This resource is designed for children: Who are on the autism spectrum Who are anxious Who have difficulty following verbal

Create a Visual Timetable

Young children and those with special needs such as autism, Down Syndrome, language and other developmental delays find this visual approach very helpful. You can use free resources like clip art or google images to makes it easy to predict when activities like shopping, going to kindy, afternoon tea and rest time will take place.

Apps to Create a Portable Visual Schedule

Who knew that your phone could enhance your child’s emotional resilience? Apps like First Then Visual Schedule, Fun Routine, Pictogram Agenda, and Model Me Going Places are a great way to help children to understand what is happening next, and the best thing about apps is that they’re usually cheap, instant and you can use them wherever you are

First Then Visual Schedule

Helps children use and follow schedules. Let your child choose possible rewards for completed activities.

Video Enhanced Activity Schedules for Children with Autism - A Promising Package for Teaching Social Skills

Teaching with activity schedules may yield functional skills that are not readily achieved by traditional discrete-trial teaching or by naturalistic intervention strategies. Activity schedules


Use of a timer (either egg, kitchen, or Time Timer, Inc.) can assist many students with autism in providing much needed time constraints and structure for completing tasks. When given an unlimited amount of time, these students typically take an unlimited amount of time for completion. The use of timers tends to improve task completion. However, caution should be taken in the use of a timer, since some children may become too highly focused and distracted by the timer, and thus become less attentive to completing the task.


Help the individual to understand and structure their daily activities.vSked is an interactive visual scheduling system designed for elementary school classrooms that uses a custom design to understand, structure and predict daily life activities and strengthen memory and language comprehension while reducing anxiety in children with autism . The use of these visual artifacts in individuals with ASD contributes to reducing the symptoms associated with cognitive, communication and social deficiencies VSked provides interfaces to create, facilitate, and visualize the progress of classroom activities around an interactive visual timeline.

Kurzweil 3000

The Kurzweil 3000 is a leader in TTS software for individuals that struggle with literacy. In addition to a range of TTS features, the full-featured software program integrates abilities that can help students Graphic organizers can be effective in helping students to organize their thoughts during the writing process. As an assistive technology, graphic organizers can be a strong choice for students with dysgraphia or disorders


Bridging Apps is a community of parents, teachers, therapists, doctors, and people with disabilities who share information on how they are using touch-based, mobile devices such as the iPad®, iPhone®, iPodTouch® and Android® devices and apps with people who have special needs.

Camp Discovery

Developed by the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD), Camp Discovery is a suite of games that create fun learning opportunities for children with autism.


Popplet is a mind-mapping application which allows users to capture and instantly record their ideas in various ways, and to quickly create useful and impressive visuals. These visuals can be refined if need be and presented and shared. Popplet also supports real-time collaboration, so students and teachers can work together in groups. Helps users develop stronger organizational, memory, and writing skills. Reading Helper-white plastic strip with highlighting down the middle

Popplet helps users consolidate information in an organized manner

Visual Schedules for Dressing and Undressing - Flexible & Editable: Boys & Girls

Getting Dressed Sequences, Flexible and Editable: If your child or student is not yet independently completing the necessary steps for getting dressed in the morning, getting winter gear on


CoreVoice can make any phone or tablet an SGD. It was designed by a speech pathologist to assist a variety of speech needs and the screen-based format allows an impressive amount of flexibility in set up and adaptation for individuals across the ASD spectrum. There are nine pre-made boards built into the app, plus one that can be customized for your particular needs.

Draft: Builder

It is a writing tool that integrates outlining, note taking and draft writing functions to break down the writing process into three steps. Using a graphical organizer, the program helps the student visualize the project and insert information into the appropriate place without having to conceptualize the whole process.

Meet Heckerty

Heckerty finds the world confusing and makes mistakes (as we all do). Teaches reading and vocabulary, inclusiveness, caring and loyalty.

Visual Assistants Electronic / Non-Electronic Organizers

Graphic symbols sequentially laying out events/activities (may also have auditory cues) Behavior issues and develop task completion/focus and language/ communication skills

Learn with Rufus: Feelings and Emotions

Helps children learn the facial expressions that correspond to feelings and emotions.

Use a white board

For children who can read, it is helpful to have a simple daily schedule that they can refer to and tick off as each task is completed. Morning routines might consist of very specific behaviours like:

  • Put my uniform on

  • Eat my cereal and drink my juice

  • Wash my teeth

  • Pack my school bag

  • Leave by 8.15am

Graphic Organizers

It accommodate weak central coherence by helping students make meaning and understand relationships with visual representations. They have been found to be effective across content areas for students with both neurotypical and specific learning disabilities

Looking-While-Listening (LWL)

Measure precision and latency of ocular movements.

Familiar images are displayed on the LCD screen on the wall and described vocally. A video camera records the children's eye movements.

Quick Talker 23

QuickTalker 23 is a portable, purpose-built SGD that lets a child with ASD create sentences by touching icons to string together words. Over 20 sentences with a total time of 20 minutes can be created. There are five different levels, based on differing skill and comprehension levels.


Symbol-supported communication app to promote language development and grow communication skills. This is a popular app in schools, but is great for all ages. Training costs extra (see funding resources below).

Bluebee Pals

Bluebee Pals are talking stuffed animals that are excellent socialization tools. The plush animal's mouth moves while your students read storybooks, engage in learning apps, or sing songs. Bluebee Pals are used with Android or Apple devices. There are a variety of learning apps available for Bluebee Pals