Organizing Systems for Children with Sensory Issues
Kids with sensory issues tend to be disorganized, yet the organizational systems set up for them by others often don’t work. Julie Morgenstern, author of the fantastic book Organizing from the Inside Out, has written about how organizational systems have to match up with how an individual operates. Customizing the organizing systems in your home can really help the clutter and messes from getting out of control.
Here’s an example. Your child with sensory issues might insist that she can’t find her shoes if you put them in drawers in her closet because she can’t remember they’re there if she can’t see them. Plus, it’s too much trouble to open every single drawer to find her sneakers instead of her sandals. And here you just bought what you thought was the perfect organizing structure for your child’s shoes, belts, and hats! Organizing systems for children with sensory issues will only work if your child actually uses them, so here are some tips you can use to avoid having that organizing system be a complete bust.
Customize the system for your child. If your child needs to see her shoes, can you work with that? Maybe an organizing system where she can actually see her shoes will make all the difference.
Keep it simple. You don’t want to pull open three drawers to find the one that has what you’re looking for. Transparent drawers or open shelving can work better than drawers you can’t see through. Drawers or shelves that are too deep and don’t have subsections can make your child have to dig through a bunch of items to get to what she wants. Those other items can end up on the floor. Ugh! Keep it simple by not putting too many items in one drawer or on one shelf. If she doesn't have to think too hard to get to what she’s looking for and put it back when she’s done, staying organized is easier. All of us have an easier time staying organized if we don’t have to stop and think about how to put something away or get something out that we need.
Do mini cleanups throughout the day and make it fun. If you wait until the end of a long day to tidy up, you’ll find it’s harder to stay organized. Teach your child with sensory issues to tidy up for a minute or so here and there throughout the day. As a child, I and my best friend loved to hum a little tune called the Can-Can to get into a cleaning frenzy for a minute or two. We laughed as we competed to see how fast we could clean up! Cleaning to energetic music or while singing a Clean Up Time song can be a fun way to tidy up when a room is starting to get out of control. Setting a timer for 60 seconds and trying to put as many items back in place as you can before time’s up is a fun way to keep a room or a home from getting out of control.
Put on your planning hat. Take a minute to put on your planning hat and have your child do the same as you consider an area of her room or your home that gets messy quickly. Can you two come up with a plan together? Maybe the counter by the bathroom sink always gets cluttered. Put on your planning hats together and start brainstorming ways to make it easier to keep those spaces tidy. Could everyone make a point of not leaving the bathroom until all the clutter is off the counter? How could each of you remember to do that? Could you make a game of keeping the bathroom counter tidy? Being creative together can be fun and help you find systems for keeping your living space organized and tidy.
Looking for more ways to help your disorganized child with sensory issues become and stay organized? The award-winning Raising a Sensory Smart Child is full of ideas for you and your family. Buy a copy today!