A frequent autism communication question I receive is about how to store and organize your visual tools. It’s an important question.
Starting a new year is a perfect time to organize or re-organize.
Once you really become a “believer” of using visual supports, you’ll very naturally begin developing more visual tools to use for the many communication needs in the life of your child or students.
The question that surfaces pretty quickly is, “How do you store them?” You need to be able to find the visual tool you need when you need it.
How do you organize your tools for autism communication? Important question. Unfortunately, there’s not a simple answer. It’s really very personalized to match your own personal organization style. But I made a discovery this week that may provide part of a very workable answer.
My journey started when I went to one of my local office supply stores looking for a rolling file cart. The one I have now is quickly “dying.” It wobbles and won’t roll and just plain needs replacing. The sales person steered me to a cart that “would work.” Of course they were out of stock, so she offered to have it shipped. Fine.
When the box arrived, I discovered that the cart I purchased was broken down into about 50 pieces. It looked more like an erector set than a file cart.
My non-mechanical brain envisioned hours of frustration assembling it, so I quickly packed it back up to return it to the store. (I couldn’t even get all the pieces back in the box! Has that ever happened to you???)
After a little more searching, I found a perfect replacement rolling file cart.
First, it was easy to assemble. I didn’t need to hire an engineer to do it! Took less than 10 minutes.
This rolling file cart will roll easily where I need it and it will hold plenty of files. It’s low enough to store under a table or a shelf. It’s much more sturdy than the one I’m replacing, and best of all, it looks good. Aesthetics always help.
My favorite box bottom-closed side file folders work well with the cart. I love the ones with a box bottom and closed sides. Box bottoms work really well to hold several items or for more bulky visual tools. The closed sides keep pictures from falling out of the folders.
While I was shopping for my rolling file cart and file folders, (with storage options on my mind), I found one more awesome storage cart with drawers that could work really well for some people.
This cute cart has lots of drawers which can help keep visual tools organized. You can label one drawer for each student. Another option is to designate one drawer to hold visual tools for each activity or time of day.
There’s even a 15 drawer storage cart with wheels.
Organization is a very personal thing. These carts and folders are options that will work really well for me. Your style of organization may be different from mine. That’s OK. It’s critical to organize in a way that matches how you personally function.
What is most important is to find places to keep those visual tools. They need a “home.” Then you’ll be able to find them when you need them. If you can do that, your efforts to support communication with visual tools will be more successful.
Another option, this cart can hold all those materials and supplies that you use to create your visual tools.
Here’s a simple tool to store your visuals. It’s a hanging jewelry organizer but it can hold multiple copies of your visual schedule cards and other visuals for classroom organization. It actually has pockets on both sides so it will store lots of pictures. The clear pockets make it easy to find exactly what you are looking for.
I’ll share more organizing tips in another blog. There are even more answers to the question “Where do you store your visual tools for autism communication?”
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