Fact sheet on adults with Asperger's syndrome and getting your life organized


Adults on the autism spectrum can have trouble getting their lives organized. They may struggle with relationships, work and life in general, without knowing why. This often leads to anxiety and can result in obsessions with rigid routines, and severe distress can arise if routines are disrupted. It can be difficult to make plans for the future and organizing one's life when it comes sequencing tasks. Some people with Aspergers syndrome over-compensate for this by being extremely meticulous in their planning, and having extensive written or mental checklists.

Factors such as anxiety, stress, depression and multiple demands can have serious effects on organizational abilities. Important considerations for improving general well-being include:
• A balanced diet and appropriate supplements i.e. vitamins
• Sufficient restful sleep
• Regular exercise
• Relaxation and stress-reduction strategies
• Following prescribed medication guidelines and medical advice
• Avoiding alcohol, cigarettes and drugs.



Structure allows us to put most of our lives on automatic pilot and reserve creativity, memory, and novelty for more important areas. People on the autism spectrum especially need to build structure into their lives as they are usually less able to cope with surprises and disruptions to routines. It is crucial to have well defined tasks for the day or week ahead.

Set a timetable each day that will ensure the healthy lifestyle above. For example, sleep can be properly regulated by always going to sleep and waking at set times. Meal times should be at set times and never skipped. Work with family members or partner to arrange a weekly plan for visiting others, exercise and any self-improvement programs.


organize your environment

Get a daily planner, diary or electronic organizer and write things down in the order you are going to do them. Get into the habit of checking your schedule at the beginning of every day or the night before. Strategies for organizing the environment include the following:
• Using a note pad system beside the phone
• Using a large notice board and making plans
• Having a special place to keep objects which tend to go missing
• Labeling or color-coding cupboards as a reminder of where things are kept
• Tying objects to places e.g. a pen to the phone or a key to a belt.

A To-Do List is a handy tool. Get a whiteboard and put it up somewhere in your house. Write on it the things that you have to do and then erase them as you complete them. Sometimes people will list 50 projects and none of them will get done. If you have this problem, create a list of five projects that you want to do and write them on the whiteboard. Don't add another project to the list until you completed one of the five items. As you add one, you have to subtract one. You may want to limit it to only three projects if five is overwhelming.


setting goals

We all have goals we have set out to achieve, often at a subconscious level. Goals keep us focused on a purpose and help us through difficult times when many others less motivated would give up. A person who wants to get the most out of life often has a number of goals simmering at the same time.

By setting goals you can get out of negative mind sets and help yourself to gain more control over your life. It pays to set these out in writing and approach them step-by-step. It is crucial to have an accurate idea of your strengths and weaknesses. It is not uncommon to have unrealistic ideas expectations of how you may cope in different areas, so it can help to discuss your strengths and weaknesses with a trusted family member.

One way to plan and organize a goal involves designing a goal schedule which may include some of the following sections:
• Goal
• Task/steps
• Time frame
• Aim for completion
• Potential barriers
• How to overcome barriers
• Benefits of achieving the goal
• Measures of success.

It is important to realize the underlying emotions or needs behind a goal. For example, you may want to find work but find you've had problems here in the past. Why do you want to work? It may be the sense of being productive, of being part of a team and feeling esteemed by peers. In this case you could look at volunteer work for a community organization which may achieve these underlying needs.

Achieving goals is a step-by-step process. It may seem too daunting at first but families or partners can provide support and assistance in a graduated way. Dealing with issues when living on the autism spectrum is more like a marathon than a sprint. Both you and your family need patience, positive attitudes and plenty of loving support for each other.

Goals should be adjusted to fit your learning style or hobbies. If you hate reading or writing then your goals shouldn't use written exercises or reading of books. If you Don't mind writing then keeping a journal is an excellent way to record your progress, especially when you feel you aren't getting anywhere. A journal can keep track of the “three steps forward, two back” that can sometimes feature in recovery.


bringing it all together

All of these suggestions are compensatory strategies that is they compensate for skills that a non-autistic world expects you to have. The good news is that the right strategies can go a long way to meeting these demands. All it takes is commitment to getting these strategies into place and being patient with yourself!


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