Training for Special Needs Adults: 6 Effective Time Management & Organization Strategies

Organization and time management are some of the most important skills in obtaining and keeping a job. They can also be particularly challenging for people with autism, intellectual disabilities and similar conditions. Job training for special needs adults needs to include ways in which individuals can better manage their lives to be successful in the workplace.

1. Lists

To-do lists are one of the most valuable organizational tools. Make a point-by-point breakdown of necessary tasks in a simple, easy-to-follow format and rank by priority. Then, tasks can be checked off when completed to ensure their status is easy to see. Not only do lists help to keep track of what an individual is doing, but being able to cross something off the list is an achievement that may bring a great deal of satisfaction. Lists can be handwritten or electronic.

2. Color coding

Adding a visual element can make organization and time management easier, and color coding is one of the simplest ways to do that. Using the right color can make a schedule easier to read and can act as a form of shorthand to tell which tasks are most important. Other visual methods to make information easier to process and remember include adding images and diagrams into schedules, instructions and other text.

3. Electronic reminders/timers

Computers can also help in making time management easier. You can program your digital calendar to alert you when an important task or event approaches. Visual and audio alarms can ensure you are aware of what is coming and can even be scheduled to repeat so they cannot just be switched off and ignored. An alert sent to a phone is accessible from anywhere and does not have to be obtrusive.

4. Use of breaks

No one can concentrate fully all the time. Be aware of how long someone can normally focus before their attention wanes and their schedule breaks in line with that. Ensure they have time away from the desk or screen, that they stay hydrated, and that they

have something to eat to keep them energized. Working towards a specific goal, like break time, can help with focus and avoiding distraction.

5. Avoid distractions in training for adults with autism

Many people with autism or other forms of neurodivergence are particularly sensitive to bright lights, loud noises and other stimuli. They may need a particularly quiet space to work, together with a comfortable chair and consistent lighting. Others may need additional stimulation to help them concentrate instead. Tailoring the surroundings will help to improve concentration and stay on schedule.

6. Communication in job training for special needs adults

Clear communication is important when managing an employee with autism or intellectual disability. Knowing what their strengths are and in which areas they may need extra support is also essential for good communication. Recognizing and celebrating achievements is vital. It’s equally important to offer straightforward guidance and constructive feedback. This approach helps in clearly outlining their responsibilities and schedules, ensuring they understand and can excel in their roles.


These are just six of the ways in which job training for adults with autism; intellectual disabilities and similar can help individuals improve their skills in organization and time management. Given that each person has their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses, adopting a flexible approach remains essential.

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