What’s a Structured Work System?
Structured work systems are probably best known as “TEACCH Tasks” or “Tasks Galore” or simply “tasks”, and they’re a component of the structured teaching approach developed by TEAACH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication handicapped CHhildren).
In structured teaching, tasks and activities that are set up so that the child knows exactly what they are supposed to do, how much they are supposed to do, and what happens after they are finished. Visual prompts and cues are used to help the child understand what is expected.
And yes, structured work systems are evidence-based! Wahoo! Check out this overview on The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder’s website.
Last week, I spent a day putting together structured work systems, or tasks, for a child on one of my teams. It started with a trip to the dollar store, a couple of hours of putting things together on my living room floor, and voila! Here are a couple of the tasks that I put together:
Tips for Creating Structured Work Systems
When creating tasks, consider a few things:
- Where is the child at? What tasks will the child be able to do?
- What tasks will be meaningful and functional for the child?
- Be creative! Think beyond colour/number/alphabet sorting and matching.
- Tasks don’t have to be fancy or expensive. Tasks can be created from everyday materials you have at home or in the class, using containers and materials you would normally put in recycling and dollar store items.
- Create tasks that serve multiple functions, and can be easily transformed into new tasks. I like to put all of my materials into ziplock bags and keep the containers separate for easy storage (rather than having hundreds of shoe boxes or containers all stacked up!).
- Have a plan to fade the work systems or containers themselves so that the child will be able to do the tasks in the natural environment (because doing a task in shoe box or container is okay initially, but not really helpful in the long run).
Need some task inspiration? Check out the Tasks Galore series – you can order them online, or check them out at the Autism Calgary library here in Calgary (they have the whole set!). Also, there are literally hundreds of ideas and pictures on Pinterest.