Encourage sensory kids, even preverbal or nonverbal ones, to work with To Do lists!

Many people are able to organize their day and prioritize their activities without having to refer to a To Do list. Others enjoy the satisfaction of checking off each task on the list as they complete it. Kids with sensory issues often have difficulty with organization and should be encouraged to create and work with To Do lists for chores, homework, and appointments. Having visual evidence that there's a lot to be done before the television goes on will help them stay focused on the tasks they need to complete.

Visual or picture To Do lists, which use stick figures, simple line drawings, or photographs to illustrate what's on the agenda, can be very helpful for a child who is unable to read. A To Do list provides clarity about what the future holds and helps build the child's ability to sequence tasks. One child may do fine with a morning routine To Do list that has line drawings for eating breakfast, washing up, brushing his teeth, taking his vitamins, getting dressed, brushing his hair, putting on his backpack, and walking with a parent to the bus stop. Another child might need to have a particular activity broken down into steps: for washing hands, her To Do list might have a sequence of drawings that illustrate turning on the tap, wetting the hands, using soap, rinsing the hands, turning off the faucet, and drying the hands.

In addition to using visual To Do lists during the course of an average day, you can make a unique list of the tasks to be completed while you and your child are out and about. If your child sees that photograph of the bank and then the photo of the grocery store, she will feel a sense of control as she is taken from one environment to the next. You might even ask her to "read" what's next on the list.

To Do lists in school are helpful, too, for everyday activities and special events such as field trips. Encourage kids to check the agenda throughout the day and cross off completed tasks.

Copyright © 2010 Nancy Peske

Author's Bio: 

Nancy Peske is an author and editor and the parent of a child who at age 2 was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder and multiple developmental delays. Coauthor of the award-winning Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues, available from Penguin Books, Nancy offers information and support on her blog and website at http://www.sensorysmartparent.com She has been active in the SPD community since 2002.