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Higher level strategies to support planning and organisation skills

Planning and organising involves using language ‘internally’ through self-talk to:

  • talk through the steps, for example, ‘first … then… last…’
  • work out what is needed for the day or week using conditional language, for example, ‘if it’s Monday then I need my PE kit’
  • understand time related vocabulary, for example, ‘tomorrow’, ‘this afternoon’, ‘next week’, ‘next month’

It also involves an understanding of time related concepts such as how much time it takes to get ready for school.

Therefore many young people with communication difficulties have difficulty planning and organising on a day to day basis. These young people will benefit from support to learn how to use planning tools that many adults use.

Planning and organisation strategies

  • Practice with the young person – the more chance they have to practice with an adult the more likely they will be able to do the task independently.
  • Explicitly teach the young person their key personal information, for example, address, date of birth, contact number, bank details, emergency contact details, national insurance number.
  • Explicitly teach the young person their medical information or diagnoses such as autism, language disorder, Down syndrome and what this means for them, for example, things they find easy, things they need help with, and what support they need.
  • Ask the young person about the best time format for them to use as some may only understand 12 hour formats (for example 3:00pm), and not 24 hour formats (for example 15:00).
  • Use easy read formats for any written information.

Visual support

Adults should explicitly teach how to use the tools below, and should support the young person to create their own visual support tools such as taking photos of key ‘landmarks’ to look out for on a travel route and writing lists.

For young people with lower literacy and reading levels it will be best to use visual tools with symbols (see below for examples).

  • Visual checklists

For example:

  • Morning and evening routine

morning routineevening routine

  • Getting dressed

getting dressed



  • Packing bag

packing bag

  • Self-hygiene, such as running a bath, brushing teeth, menstruation

brushing teeth

menstruation visual support


symbol supported timetable

symbol supported timetable



For more information please contact the Speech and Language Therapy Service at Flockton House on 0114 226 2333.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: SL248

Resource Type: Article

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