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Using Thinking Tools to Address Organizational Issues: Strategies from Learning the R.O.P.E.S. Presented By: Patty Schetter, MA Autism and Behavior Training Associates 2011 CARS + Convention 1

Goals For This Training: 1. Explain Executive Dysfunction and how it is observed in children with various learning and neuro-biologocal disabilities 2. Provide a framework for addressing issues related to executive function that is user friendly 3. Illustrate how simple graphic organizers commonly used in education can be expanded to address many organizational issues for students with executive impairments

Think of Students You Work With Who Struggle With Being Organized…. • Common Deficient Skills

• Common Problematic Behaviors

Impaired Executive Functioning: an inability to engage in goal-directed, future-oriented behaviors including: planning, flexibility, organized search, self-monitoring, and use of working memory.

I direct all of the activities in the brain!

Problems With Working Memory Why did I come in here?

• Aspect of cognition which operates on data held in short-term memory • May be thought of as the RAM for working memory's CPU processes • Involved in the interim integration, processing, disposal, and retrieval of information and active monitoring or manipulation of information or behaviors

Shifting Attention • Allows us to redirect attention to aspects of the environment we want to focus on subsequently process

Say the Font Color

Green Blue Bird Red Yellow Cat

Black Dog Purple Pink Boy Red

What is GOOD Executive Functioning? • When all of the “Instruments” work well together • Each is: – In tune with others – Knows when and how to enter and exit – Can anticipate what is coming and adjust


What is Responsible for Executive Dysfunction? Appears to be under-activation in the prefrontal cortex

Who Is Impacted by Impaired EF • • • •

ADD/ADHD Autism Spectrum Disorders Tourette’s Syndrome Other Learning Disabilities including Nonverbal Learning Disabilities • People experiencing PTSD • MANY learners that are not formally diagnosed….

Back to Your List…. • Common Deficient Skills

• Common Problematic Behaviors

We Know They Have These Differences‌.. Now What????

Types of Organization • Physical – Systems in the environment – How you organize space and materials

• Cerebral – Meta-cognitive systems – How you organize thoughts, experiences, memories, information – Required to develop physical organizational systems

EF Interventions Should Include: • Accommodations – Including physical organization systems and routines • Teaching and Reinforcing Compensatory Skills – Skill set required to make use of the accommodations and organizational systems • Remediation of Underlying “Executive” Skills – Learning to use cerebral organization strategies – Most Important = SELF ADVOCACY!

Accommodations for Executive Dysfunction • • • •

Schedules and calendars Checklists and to do lists Timers and visual reminders Homework and materials management systems • Structured and predictable environments and activities

Whole Class Schedules

Simple Written Schedule for an Older Student

School Day Schedule Done (7:50 - 8:00)

Ready for the day routine

(8:05 - 8:50)


(8:55 - 9:40)


(9:45 - 10:30)


(10:35 - 11:20)


(11:25 - 12:05)


(12:10 - 12:55)


(1:00 - 1:45)

Computer Science

(1:50 - 2:35)


(2:35 - 2:45)

Ready to go home routine


Catch the bus

Reviewed By:

ABTA 2010


Icon Schedule with Mini-Schedule

Sample Homework Summary Page Subject





Pgs 21-22 odd problems

Tues. Jan 22

Math book


Study for test

Fri. Jan 25

Spelling list & flashcards

Fri. Feb 25

Card board, paper machet, red paint, brown paint


Volcano Project for Science Fair

Sample “Action Plans” Task Specific

Routine Checklist

Feed the Dog Done

Night-tim e Routine Checklist

Go to pantry

Take off clothes

Take 1 scoop of food

Put in hamper

Take to dog dish


Put scoop of food in dish

Get nighttime routine box

Walk back to pantry

Brush teeth

Put scoop back in dog food bag

Put on P.J.s

Close pantry door

Set alarm clock

Reviewed By:

Reviewed By:


Alarms and Timers Time-Timer Watch Minder

Technology • Application for scheduling, homework management, to do lists, etc….. • Ethan using his ITOUCH Video

Thinking Tools = Remediation • Three simple Graphic Organizers used to teach and remediate many organizational thinking issues • From Learning the R.O.P.E.S. for Improved Executive Functioning (Schetter, 2004) – Recalling - Organizing - Prioritizing -Evaluating - Self Management

1. Venn Diagram Used to teach student to make comparisons and draw from prior knowledge – Between people (interests, ideas, likes, dislikes, needs, etc). – Between activities (rules, procedures, amount of time needed, etc) – Between terms, vocabulary and language

Typical Use of Venn in Education: Compare-Contrast Two of the Main Characters Charlotte














Thinking Tool: What Do We Have In Common? About Patty

About Ethan

Girl CSI Horses Scrabble

Boy Blue KFC Football

Andy Griffith Show Parrots Plunks Pond

Thinking Tool for “Guesstimating” Previous Activity

Researc hed playstation “Cheats Took 15 minutes per Cheat

New Activity

Used computer & search engine Had a specific topic to research Printed results to use later

Researching industry in the state of Idaho Guesstimate: take same amount of time 15 minutes per topic

Homophones Sale


Spelling: Sale

Spelling: Sail

Meaning: available for purchase, at a discount

Meaning: to boat, using wind to power

Sounds the same

Thinking Tool for Compromise

I want to play 2 square

We both want to play tether ball

I want to play wall ball

2. Cluster Used to teach student to see parts and how they fit into a whole – Breaking tasks down into parts – Identifying needed materials – Chunking similar information – Integrating new information with old – Breaking down complex conversation questions

Thinking Tool: Breaking it Down Make Bed

Mom Said: Clean My Room



Identify Needed Materials • After breaking a skill into “chunks” the student will need to identify materials for the task • Practice this skill using the cluster organizer • Once student has identified the needed materials, he should develop a materials list and use it to gather materials in advance (into a task box if appropriate)

Thinking Tool: ID Materials Make Bed

Mom Said: Clean My Room

Vacuum Cleaner


Dust Mitt



Materials Checklist Materials Needed Dust mitt Pledge Vacuum


Ordering Steps • Steps or “chunks” need to be put into a logical order • Ordering involves sequential thinking – Teach student to utilize a sequential organizer or checklist to complete the process of putting the steps in order – Then use the checklist as the “Action Plan” for completing the task

Putting Chunks in Sequential Order Physically moving the chunks into a logical order helps them understand sequencing‌

First: Make Bed

Second: Dust

Third: Vacuum

They have made their own checklist!!!

Break it Down…

How Can You Use Cluster to Chunk The Following: • An end of the school day routine?

• Information from text?

• Doing a state report?

• Getting in to college?

Visual Notes from Reading: Identifying Main Characters Wilbur

Main Characters Charlotte

Fern ABTA 2009


Extension: Attributes of Characters Friendly







Main Characters

Helpful Charlotte

Fern ABTA 2009


Graphic Organizers: Visual Notes Template Did What:

Signed Declaration of Independence


1776 Topic: American Independence

ď ‹ Who: Where:

George Washington and founding fathers


ABTA 2009


Highlighter Key • • • •

Yellow: Important people Green: Important dates Blue: Important Locations Orange: Important facts or statistics

ABTA 2009


3. Sequential Used to teach students the logical sequence or order of steps/chunks – Problem solving – Prediction – Inference and Perspective Taking – Goal Setting

We must correct problems with sequential thinking Everything happens to me‌‌ Actions



The Basic Thinking Tool Used For “Daily Pat On The Back” Situation: Teacher assigned list of 20 words Test was Scheduled for 1 week later.


I made flashcards and practiced them every night for 10 minutes.


I earned “A” on the test. Mom let me rent a video.

“What If” Prediction Action:

Teacher assigned list of 20 words Test was Scheduled for 1 week later.

I made flashcards and practiced them every night for 10 minutes.

I play Nintendo and watch my favorite TV show


I earned an “A”

Bad grade, no video or TV for week

“Thinking Tool� Incorporating Perspective Situation:

I was walking down the hall and saw you coming



You looked up, but did not say a thing and walked away


He must be mad at me.

Walking down the hall and see someone you know

Look up and don’t say anything

Look up, smile and say “Hi”

He must be mad at me

He is such a nice boy

Thinking Tool: Problem Solving

Also Use for Problem Solving These Situations….. • Evaluating problematic behavior and coming up with an alternative • Flexibility in problem solving – looking at many options and choosing the best • Preparing for novel situation by drawing on prior experiences • AND MANY MORE!!!!!!!

With a lot of practice and guidance using Visual and Rehearsed strategies, look what starts to happen!!!

I get it!!!!


Goal Setting: I want to accomplish the following outcome:


Then Begin Integrating “Action Plans” To achieve my desired outcome, I must: Action Plan: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.


Goal Setting: Reading

Final Thoughts‌.. EF Skills are critical to address!

Hope alone will not Improve EF!

Many kids have EF impairments‌

The earlier the better! They are Life Skills which affect all domains!

Remediation is possible!

For More on Learning the R.O.P.E.S. for Improved Executive Functioning

Visit our Authors Table at the CARS + Conference to receive your discount !!!!!



Presented By: Patty Schetter, MA Autism and Behavior Training Associates 2011 CARS + Convention 1

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