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Ilana Danneman
BY Ilana Danneman

10 Tips to Get Your Child with Special Needs More Organized

Why are some people more organized than others? Why do organizational skills come easily to some kids and others seem like they can’t find their own two feet? There are plenty of studies but after spending some time with a cognitive analyst (brain testerJ), I found the following quite interesting.

The Amigdula and Fight or Flight Response

Deep down inside the center of the brain is a tiny organ called the Amigdula. It is responsible for our fight or flight responses. In normal circumstances it sets off a series of responses, when necessary, to protect us: being chased by a buffalo, house on fire, administering CPR; but sometimes after a trauma or for a variety of reasons it can get set off persistently when not really necessary.

This can cause a lot of anxiety, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity and so on. The forefront of the brain is responsible for goal setting, organizing, planning and higher order thinking. By activating this part of the brain, the amygdala can actually relax (under normal circumstances). So, one way to keep the amygdala in check is by activating the forefront of our brain.

I’m going to suggest 10 activities that implore the frontal lobe and with practice can keep the amygdala in check. Be sure to choose activities that fit your child’s age and interest. You may need to break the activity down for them in the beginning so they can tackle parts of it until they master it.

1. Card games

Cards are terrific for engaging the brain and they can be super hands on activities. Games like Kings Corner, Solitaire, Gin and so on are perfect for sorting, thinking, processing and planning. Card tricks are fun too!

2. Brain games

Check out sites like Lumosity or Brain Games for a variety of on line games that use memory, visual perception and thinking skills. You can also use the standard hands-on memory card games as well. In the same mindset, board games in general are super front lobe builders.

3. Plan Something

It can be a trip, a party, and a day out. Get out paper and pencil and create the experience you want to have.

4. Body/brain Games

Simon Says, Red Light/Green Light, Mother May I are all great body/brain games. But you can come up with your own. You can even do a scavenger hunt with a surprise at the end.

5. Writers Workshop

Write a story, a poem, a letter or your goals for the next week, month or year. Writing uses the forefront of the brain as it involves higher order thinking and planning.

6. Puzzles

Puzzles require attention and visual skills. You can do board puzzles, on line puzzles or crossword puzzles, mazes and word finds too.

7. Art

You don’t have to be a budding artist, but a little music with paper and markers can get your frontal lobe rocking and acting like Picasso.

8. Maid Brigade

Go find a messy drawer or closet and….reorganize it! This is one of my favorite Amygdala tamers.

9. Heavy Work

Take out the garbage, build a deck, cut the grass, do the laundry, fix a broken handle. Use those muscles to get moving while thinking.

10. Exercise

Yoga, gymnastics, soccer, rock climbing, biking and many more activities that make you think and move!

So, get moving, organizing, planning and thinking and your brains will be focused, calm and attentive!

Ilana Danneman

Written on March 27, 2014 by:

Ilana Danneman is a pediatric physical therapist with over 25 years experience in the special needs field developing 100's of products, blogging, providing customer education, and catalog direction. She has worked for both School Specialty and Fun and Function and currently is a contract blogger and product developer as well as home health pediatric and geriatric physical therapist. She is currently the owner of the idea therapist and can be reached at [email protected]