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Planing and organisation with an ABI fact sheet

Planning and organisation in students with an acquired brain injury

How do I know if my student is having difficulties with planning and organisation?

Following a brain injury, students may have difficulties with planning and organisation. Organisation skills are necessary for a student to organise their belongings structure their thoughts and ideas both in conversation and when writing an assignment, and organising their activities. Good planning skills are important to ensure that tasks happen on time and in the correct order, to ensure that the student is able to work out how to get to a social event on time and with the correct objects (e.g., sporting equipment, money for the bus, etc.), and being able to prioritise work. Therefore students with brain injuries may have difficulties with these things.

What can I do to help my student overcome the difficulties they are experiencing with planning and organisation?

  • It will be helpful to work with the student to develop graphic organisers, such as checklists and to do lists, to help organise and plan their day. For young students, this might be a picture based checklist (using clip art of pictures of them completing each activity) of their morning routine or self-care tasks (e.g., getting dressed after swimming). For older students, this might be a written checklist outlining their day, steps of an assignment, or broken down steps of task.
  • Using small daily checklists (can be picture based) may be useful to help a student remember to bring key pieces of equipment or to take these home at the end of the day.
  • Assist students to break down large tasks into smaller more manageable tasks. This could involve teaching the student to ask questions such as “what do I do first”, “what will I need to complete this task.”
  • Use cues and prompts (e.g., “Good, now what is the next step?” or “Do you think we should to ___ or ____ next?”) to help the student organise their way through a task.
  • Teaching students to use a diary, including writing down homework, when drafts are due, due dates, and exams may be helpful. It might be worthwhile pairing the diary with a calendar at home to help the student to plan their study.
  • Help the student to prioritise school work by thinking about how long a task will realistically take, when it is due, and whether drafts need to be submitted. Using a whiteboard or laminated chart will help you reprioritise tasks as tasks are completed.
  • Encourage the student to use colour coding to organise their belongings (e.g., marking math as orange on the timetable, and putting an orange sticker on all math belongings).

Contact us

Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service
Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital
Level 6, 501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane 4101
t: 07 3068 2950
t: 07 3068 1111 (general enquiries)
f: 07 3068 3909
e: qprs@health.qld.gov.au

In an emergency, always call 000.

If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Developed by the Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service, Children’s Health Queensland. Updated: October 2017. All information contained in this sheet has been supplied by qualified professionals as a guideline for care only. Seek medical advice, as appropriate, for concerns regarding your child’s health.

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