A Resource for Teachers, Clinicians, Parents, and Students by the Brain Injury Association of New York State.
Problem: The student appears to do the first thing that comes to mind; has difficulty delaying gratification; appears to act without thinking.
Cognitive/Self-Regulatory Possibility:
Organizational impairment

Step 1: Organize observations relevant to the problematic behavior/issue

  • Who is reporting the problem?
  • When does it occur? (Include time of day, activities etc).
  • Where does it occur?
  • What tends to precede the problematic behavior/issue?
  • What tends to follow the problematic behavior/issue?
  • What is the age and functioning level of the student?
  • Previous documentation/charts?

Step 2: Identify possible contributors to the problematic behavior/issue

In many cases, there are several contributors to the student’s identified problem. These contributors may interact with each other, therefore, it may be necessary to combine tests from different categories of possibilities. The existence of several interacting contributors may become obvious as you proceed through individual intervention experiments.

Organizational impairment: Some students may think and act impulsively as a result of organizational impairment. (See Tutorial on Organization.)

Relevant Observations: The student’s apparently impulsive thinking and acting may be related to weak organizational abilities. The student may make unusual associations that have the appearance of impulsive responses. For example, the student may jump from topic to topic in unusual ways in conversation. The student may have more general organizational difficulties. If a task is not routine and/or has many components to be organized, the student may have difficulty. The student may appear confused and disorganized. The student’s materials may be poorly organized. (See Tutorial on Organization.)

Useful experiments for assessment and intervention:

  1. Observe and record the frequency and/or intensity of the problem behavior when a new teaching strategy or support is being implemented versus when it is not being implemented.
  2. Possible organization-related teaching strategies or supports (See Tutorial on Organization): Maintaining other components of the task, provide the student with organizational supports. For example, help the student to remain on topic in conversation. Provide organizational supports for complex tasks (e.g., advance organizers). When giving new information, show the student how the information can be organized or elaborated to enhance memory.
  3. If the frequency and/or intensity of the targeted behavior decreases during intervention, it may be that this problem behavior is in part a result of organizational impairment. (See Tutorials on Organization; Advance Organizers; Instructional Routines)

Possible referrals: School psychologist for assessment; instructional support specialist for instructional strategies

A program of the Brain Injury Association of New York State, and funded by the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

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The Brain Injury Association of New York State
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