Helping Asperger’s Individuals with Time Management
Most people have experienced periods of time just slipping away. With Asperger’s sufferers this can be an ongoing problem that interferes with school, work, and daily life. For parents, caregivers, friends, and employers of Aspies, dealing with someone who constantly loses track of time or ignores it altogether can be both frustrating and downright annoying. However, those who spend time around Asperger’s individuals should try to remember that poor time management is a trait associated with the disability.
Here are some suggestions for Asperger’s time management for those who live or work with individuals on the autism spectrum.
Asperger’s Time Management Tips
Always Have a Plan or Objective
Spontaneity just doesn’t work well for most people with Asperger’s. Surprises or unexpected occurrences can be very jarring for them. Many Aspies crave and enjoy routine and sameness.
Children and adults with Asperger’s need to be given very clear and specific plans to follow. They should also have deadlines or specific timeframes to complete activities if they have trouble effectively managing their time. Try to avoid allowing Aspies with time management issues to work at their own pace or take as much time as needed. It can actually be counterproductive.
Many people with Asperger’s enjoy learning the minutest details about their favorite topic. Unfortunately, they can get bogged down in the minutiae. Simply put: Aspies can focus too much on the parts instead of the whole. Asperger’s individuals need to be taught how to see “the whole picture.” For every task or activity, the Aspie should know what the final result should be or the goal that is to be met. Give frequent reminders to help keep him or her focused until the task is completed.
Make a List
For Aspies and their family members, creating lists of tasks that needed to be completed each day can be a great way to keep them organized. The list should be very specific and include a timeframe in which tasks must be completed. Also, allow the person the list is being created for to have some input into what it includes. Make sure the list is not too overwhelming for the Aspie. He or she needs to be successful. But hold them accountable for making sure tasks are prioritized and completed on time.
Create a Visual Schedule
Depending on their age and other factors, visual schedules are extremely helpful for Aspies. For a young child, seeing pictures of the task or activity can help reinforce what needs to be done. The schedule should include a picture of the task or activity, the time it is to be completed, and a place for the individual to check off when the task or activity is over. Make the Aspie responsible for checking his or her schedule and ensuring it is followed.
Get an Electronic Organizer
Technology has truly been wonderful for many children and adults with Asperger’s. The market is filled with gadgets that cater to those who need assistance getting and staying organized. Smart phones, computers, iPods, and even wrist watches come with settings that can send alerts, play special music, speak, or provide other customizable reminders that can help Aspies with their time management. Just make sure the device is age appropriate.
Aspies and Time Management
Teaching people with Asperger’s time management strategies can be tricky. It is one of the ironies of the disability. Asperger’s people like routine and sameness, yet they can be extremely disorganized which interferes with keeping a routine or creating sameness.
However with support and constant reinforcement, Asperger’s individuals can improve the ability to effectively manage their time.
A Parent’s Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism Ozonoff, Sally and Dawson, Geraldine, The Guilford Press New York 2002