5 Tips To Organize Your Child With Special Needs Room

This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs over at AutismWonderland.

Ever since my son, Norrin, started with early intervention services and therapists started coming into our home, I wanted to keep his room in order. Every few months, I take an afternoon to reorganize Norrin’s room. It gives me the opportunity to throw away broken toys or donate toys that he’s outgrown. I pull everything out of bins and containers put it in the middle of the room and get to work. Now that he’s seven, I have to do it when he’s not home otherwise it’s too distracting and he just gets in my way.

Here are 5 tips that help keep Norrin’s room neat and organized:

Keep Board Games Out of Reach. We use board games during therapy sessions for social interaction and turn taking skills. However, since many have small pieces that can get easily lost – I keep them on a top shelf in the closet. If I get rid of the boxes, I use zip lock bags to hold all the pieces. If you do nothing else, do this. Leaving board games out is too tempting and pieces can get so easily lost. Nothing frustrates me more than wanting to play a game and have pieces missing.

Rotate Toys. I try to do this as much as possible so that Norrin doesn’t get bored. Pulling out a toy that hasn’t been used in a few months, brings new life into something old. And it’s also a good way to measure progress. I just reintroduced an 70 piece puzzle to Norrin. It was in a bin and I forgot all about it. When I first purchased it (almost two years ago), Norrin had no interest in doing it. It was difficult and after a few attempts, he became frustrated and stopped. I pulled it out again but didn’t think Norrin would want to do it. Well…he did. It took him about 30 minutes, but he sat and finished.

Set Toys Aside. Norrin has toys that he can play with whenever he likes and toys that he only uses during therapy sessions. The toys for therapy sessions are set aside in his closet. This is something I picked up during the ABA years. The therapist would keep her toys in our closet and she stressed that her toys only be used during therapy. She needed Norrin to be motivated – if he had access to her toys whenever he wanted, he’d be less likely to work for them and her. Five years later, we still follow this rule.

Save Space Where You Can. Norrin has a bunch of puzzles. I realized early on that boxes and boxes of puzzles take up a lot of space. I consolidated them by tossing the boxes and putting each puzzle in a zip lock. (Before tossing the box – rip out a picture of the completed puzzle and place in the bag with pieces for reference). Then I stored all of Norrin’s puzzles in one big clear box. I love using stackable bins and containers – makes for easy storage in a closet or in a corner of a room.

Make Sure Everything Has its Place. This seems so obvious but it needs to be said. I am big on zip lock bags and plastic containers and bins. Almost all of Norrin’s toys have its own container, bin or zip lock bag. (There’s a cars bin, train bin and crayon bin. A bin for his legos, a bin for his playdough, one for his puppets and one for his magnet letters. There are zip locks filled with puzzles and game pieces.) This way I know where everything is kept and it makes cleaning up easier for Norrin. He understands where all of his things go. And when he wants something, he always knows exactly where to find it.  I even organize Norrin’s books by author or category. Which really helps at bedtime when it’s time to read a story.

How do you keep your kid’s toys and books organized?

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  1. [...] Out the Toy Bins. A new year is upon us and I say: out with the old and in with the new. This is a great time to clean out bins and closets and reorganize your child’s room. Get your child involved in the task if you can. Make three piles: toss, keep and donate. I love [...]