Structuring the HOME for Children with Special Needs

By: Cindy Golden,

Research has shown us that children with special needs thrive in settings that are not only organized and predictable but also brimming with visual supports and visual schedules.   Children with special needs are typically accommodated with a great deal of structure in their school environments but what about the home?  We will discuss ways that you can provide that structure in the home setting. 


Let’s begin with the child’s bedroom.  Below are four practical ideas for creating structure and promoting independence in the child’s home environment:


1.      Visual Schedules are vital.  Create schedules for bedroom chores:

·         making bed,

·         putting up clothing,

·         cleaning up room

·         doing homework

·         getting up in the morning

·         going to bed at night


Create visuals for each schedule.  Laminate and post them in the different areas of the room (i.e.; mirrors, bedside the bed). Stage the child doing each of the steps and take digital photos to create the schedule.  


2.      Label the environment with picture symbols.  Take photos of items that are in the clothing drawers and post on the front.


3.      Organize the environment so that everything has a home.  Use small baskets in drawers; section off the closet for pants, shirts; and have a desk with bins and organizers for all school materials.  It is better to have lots of sub-compartments than one large drawer for storing everything.  


4.      Try to use color coding to help with organization. Try color coding drawers for clothing; hampers for clean/dirty clothing; and in/out basket for homework to do.


5.       Don’t forget to involve the child in the organization.  We do not want to do everything for them but to teach them to organizational skills as your go.  They will become adults some day and we want them to have the skills needed to organize their own environment.

Email:  [email protected]


2 Responses to Structuring the HOME for Children with Special Needs