Last night I was watching The A Word, the BBC drama centred around a family of Joe, an autistic little boy. As my daughter is autistic lots of the struggles Joe faces are familiar to me and my family. This got me thinking to today’s blog. You may wonder what this all has to do with decluttering and organisation? Well, in my eyes our home being decluttered and organised has really helped me and my daughter in our everyday lives. Obviously with autism being a spectrum each person is different, so what helps one person may not help another, but to be honest these tips can be broadened out to help anyone, regardless of whether they are autistic or not, but someone with autism may find them more helpful than most.
I never realised how much paperwork was involved having a child on the spectrum. So much paperwork! Numerous hospital and educational reports, CAHMS, MAST, ECHP’s, DLA the list goes on. Having a filing system is really important or otherwise it can quickly snowball into a huge mess.
Structure – knowing what happens next
This is a really important thing for my daughter. Keeping on top of paperwork and having a family calendar means important dates are highlighted and my daughter knows when things are going to happen. She has her own diary too, so not only can she keep track of important events she can write about her day which she finds easier than talking about it. With everything having a place, she can find exactly what she wants easily and without stress.
My daughter likes that she is in control of what is in her room. She decides when clothes no longer fit or are no longer comfortable. She is in control of tidying her room. Now we have decluttered and she knows how to store her clothes (folded upright) she doesn’t get overwhelmed by tidying her room. She has a noticecboard for her school art work and certificates of achievements. She is in charge of putting her artwork up and deciding what to remove. This not only means I don’t have to deal with hundreds of bits of ‘art’ but she gets to enjoy and display her work but it is contained! Win/Win!
Decluttering has meant that we have more room to play, make a mess and she bumps into less things as there are less obstacles around the home (she has poor spacial awareness). She has room to play with her toys. I don’t mind her making a fort out of blankets in the living room as I know things are quickly and easily tidied away. This is great as she struggles with imaginative play so anything like that I try to encourage. As we have more clear space her charts that she uses to communicate (bad day or good day smiley faces) are easily visible and not buried among other clutter.
Skills for the future
She has learnt how to differentiate between something worth keeping and something to discard. This is such a useful skill to have and I think has minimised many meltdowns, as previously she used to get so attached to random (and in my eyes rubbish!) objects. I used to try and humour her with them but now I don’t need to as after the initial excitement about something, she is now able to realise that this item isn’t worth keeping for very long. Items that she now cherishes are appropriate to her age and interests.
I hope by sharing how decluttering and organising has helped me and my daughter this can help you too. If you wish to find out more please ask!