During the coming week, I will continue posting parts of Marcia Garcia Winner‘s article on Teaching Organizational Skills to Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This post is Part 2 and is entitled, “Homework: Clearly Define What Needs to be Done, Motivation, and Reward – Organizational Skills” Marcia Garcia Winner‘s article benefits all students who lack this much needed skill not only students with autism spectrum disorder, therefore teachers, parents, and all who live or work with an individual lacking organizational skills will benefit greatly from Garcia’s sound and sage advice.
This article appeared in an Autism and Asperger’s Digest entitled Homework & Organizational Strategies. Reprinted with permission of publisher. We added the photos.
First, Marcia explained in part 1 what is Executive Functioning (EF) , why it is important, and how to develop this life-skill. Then the author guides you with 10 Steps to Foster Organization Skills.
But first, Who Is Marcia Garcia Winner? Click here to read this in part one.
Part 2: Homework: Clearly Define What Needs to be Done, Motivation, and Reward
Step 1 Clearly Define What Needs to be Done
Too often, parents and schools view organization goals too simply: “the student must write the assignment in his planner.” Clear this is not nearly enough detail for most tasks and may not even be the best starting goal for a particular student. Adults must be organized in their own thinking if they are to effectively teach students with Executive Functioning deficits this skill. Go beyond giving out assignments; help the student understand how to also approach the task from an organizational standpoint.
Step 2 Move It with Motivation
Almost all students with weak organizational skills also struggle with motivation to accomplish homework tasks. Parents and teachers often don’t realize this lack of motivation can stem from feeling overwhelmed by the task demands. Students with the greatest motivational challenges are often our most intelligent students (e.g. those with high IQ scores). We often assume “smart” means “organized” and say things like “come on, I know you can do this, I know you are smart.” Yet, they may have the hardest time motivating themselves when overwhelmed because they have never had to work at learning. Learning just happened if they stayed attentive.
By adolescence, students need to appreciate that completing work – even work that seems somewhat ridiculous to them – has its rewards.
- It establishes them as hard working in the eyes of others.
- It improves their grades.
- It increases feelings of self-worth through meeting their grade level academic expectations.
Motivate with Rewards Early in the Task
However, as obvious as this sounds, this level of cause-effect can still be too overwhelming to some spectrum students because it requires delayed gratification. Many students need to start at a much more concrete level of motivation, with very small work steps combined with reward early in the task completion process. For example, if a student cannot easily work for an hour, have him work successfully on a single part of the task for just 10 minutes before he gets to pause and congratulate himself. Self-motivation increases when students feel confident in understanding and accomplishing the task before them. It doesn’t matter how “well” you teach students these EF skills; if they are unmotivated, they will not implement the ideas.
Work directly on helping students tackle and overcome motivation challenges. Most adults familiar with helping students “get organized” understand this point. Establish a dedicated work-space for homework that includes the essential tools: pen, pencil, paper, etc. Color coding tasks, making sure the student has an organized binder, possibly access to a time-timer (www.timetimer.com) create structures that promote success during homework time.
Marcia Gracia Winner’s 10 Steps to Foster Organization Skills.