Organizational Skill Training for Students with ADHD
What is Organizational Skill Training?
Organizational Skill Training, or OST, is a fancy term for what researchers are beginning to quantify and measure through their studies. According to the NYU Child Study Center, organizational skill is a broad term that refers to one’s strength in organization, time management and planning skills, or “OTMP” skills. In addition to the NYU Child Study Center, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is also in the process of researching best practices for improving students OTMP skills.
Organizational Skills and Student Success
Overall there is a clear connection between a student’s academic success and his or her organizational skills. From remembering assignments to being able to note-take, these organizational tasks become extremely difficult for students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). According to preliminary research done by the NYU Child Study Center, “when children have problems in these areas [of organization], research suggests lowered productivity, lessened ability to pay attention, and greater family conflict over school work” (a). Students with ADHD are particularly prone to lose interest in organization due the routine, and perhaps tedious, nature of the tasks. This is why it is crucial to teach students not only the “how” of organization but also the “why.”
Best Practices for Teaching Organizational Skills to Students with ADHD
According to the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), students not only need to learn how to organize but they must also learn why it will benefit them in the future. Some of the recommended strategies for teaching organizational skills are as follows:
• Use colors and symbols as prompts for students—For example, teachers can place pictures of the necessary materials for the class at the front of the classroom as a visual cue and reminder to students to make sure they have all their materials before entering the classroom. Furthermore, color-coding files can help students organize and prioritize their assignments. (e.g.-red- do immediately, green-homework)
• Use Assignment Folders and Class Notebooks—While it is a time investment for the teacher to teach organizational skills and to assess students on their progress, using assignment folders and grading class notebooks are both ways to improve student organization.
• Time Management—using calendars to help students plan their work and assignments is an effective way to help all students become organization. “When presenting work, the teacher should:
- Introduce the assignment in an organized, consistent way.
- Help students assess the time they will need to complete the assignment.
- Include a task-specific analysis of a plan to complete the assignment.
- Schedule time to complete the work.” (b)
Students with ADHD, Self-Management and Organizational Skills
A growing field for of intervention strategies being reviewed by researchers is teaching students self-management or self-regulation skills. Organizational skills can be considered one aspect of self-management. According to research conducted by Robert Reid, Alexandra Trout and Michalla Schartz, self-regulation can “produce meaningful improvements in student on-task behavior, academic productivity and accuracy, and reduction of inappropriate or disruptive behaviors” (c).
(a) New York University Child Study Center. http://www.aboutourkids.org/aboutour/publications/csc_newsletters_monthly/2006/april.pdf. July 18, 2007.
(bCouncil for Exceptional Children. http://www.cec.sped.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&CONTENTID=7517. July 18, 2007
(c) Robert Reid, Alexandra L Trout, and Michalla Schartz. “Self-Regulation Interventions for Children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivy Disorder.”Exceptional Children. Reston: Summer 2005. Vol. 71, Iss. 4; p. 361 (17 pages)
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