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Staying on Track in the New Year: Resources for Students with Autism and LD

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There is often a sense of excitement when something new begins with the coming of the new year; whether that be a job, a relationship, or an academic semester. It is important to take advantage of this excitement to harness that new motivation, because, for many, this is a limited window of opportunity.

Here at CIP, our students are focusing on strengthening their progress toward independence and developing their individual successes.

Here are a few areas to highlight as your student begins 2017:


Health & Wellness

1. Eat a Healthy Breakfast

  • When we skip our first meal of the day, our body has no fuel to draw on, including energy to get our metabolism started. We also tend to get hungry later in the evening, which means snacking right before bed.
  • To ensure the day begins on a good note, stock the fridge with breakfast foods that are easy to prepare, like whole-grain toast and peanut butter, yogurt, fruit, hard-boiled eggs, oatmeal, and low-sugar granola. If cold cereal is your breakfast of choice, try adding fresh berries to the mix.

2. Go Outside

  • The attraction of television, phones, and computer games, and the intimidation of winter and other uncomfortable weather, makes staying inside an easy choice.
  • Give yourself reasons to get up and out, like offering to walk a friend to school or walking to a cafe or library to study. Your mood, immune system, and vitamin D receptors will be very grateful, but don’t forget to bundle up if you live somewhere cold!

3. Surround Yourself with Good People

  • Choosing the right friends is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Surround yourself with people who inspire you to be yourself. Notice if you are around people who are asking you to be someone you are not. Are your relationships balanced? Do you receive appreciation and affection as much as you give it? Let your friends be an important gift you give to yourself.

4. Be Happy

  • Above all, make sure you are happy. Everything on this resolution list should contribute to that. Laugh often. Be passionate and courageous. Life is very much a trial-and-error process. Through this process, find out what is most important to you, then go out and do it.

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Financial Awareness

1. Track Day-to-Day Spending

  • The only way you will be able to start setting sensible financial goals is to look at your current expenses and find out where your money is going. You can use a simple spending log and include everything you purchase – whether with cash, debit card, check or credit card. It is the small day-to-day purchases that add up the most!

2. Create a Monthly Spending Budget

  • After you have figured out where your money is going on a day-to-day basis, you will then be able to develop a monthly budget. It is important to create a monthly budget because it will help you balance your expenses with your income, and it will ensure that you have enough money to pay rent, bills, and other necessities. You can use a simple website/app like Mint to keep track of your accounts.

3. Be Careful with Your Charge Cards

  • It can be very tempting to charge items to your credit card(s) because many credit cards offer great sign up bonuses and discounts, but be cautious when doing so. Many people can fall into the bad habit of “I will charge it today and pay it back later”. This can be a very dangerous habit to develop because if you do not pay your bills in full and on time, you run the risk of just paying the interest rates alone and not touching the full balance. A good tip to keep in mind is: if you can’t pay for it at the end of the billing cycle, then it does not get charged to your card. You will thank yourself in the end!

4. Learning to Live Well and Spend Less

  • Try not to get too distracted by social media or billboards that advertise those luxurious products you just have to have otherwise you will live a “miserable” life without them. As tempting as it might be to have the latest new iPhone or those hot new shoes, ask yourself “will all this stuff really make me happy in the end?” Chances are — No! Believe it or not, the best things in life are free. Take the challenge and learn how to live well, be happy, and spend less!

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Executive Functions

Executive Functions describe a set of cognitive abilities that control and regulate behavior. Executive Functioning ability is necessary for goal-directed behavior and includes being able to initiate and stop actions, to monitor and change behaviors as needed, and to plan future behaviors when faced with novel tasks and situations.

Executive Functions allow you to anticipate outcomes and adapt to changing situations. As you start a new semester, managing your space and keeping track of time are two skills you need to master in order to succeed in school and live independently.

1. My filing system is all messed up!

From your brain’s point of view, life is a staggering blast of completely disorganized stuff. Impressions, feelings, images, smells, etc., are being fire-hosed into your brain through your eyes, ears, nose, and skin every waking hour. It’s confusing, never-ending, and hopelessly chaotic. At least it would be, if your brain didn’t create an internal filing system to organize it.

2. Managing Space and Material

  • Create a dedicated work space.
  • Organize work space.
    • Color-coded bins.
    • Sections in backpack.
  • Minimize clutter.
  • Schedule cleaning and organizing at least once per week.
  • Employ master notebook system.
    • Accordion file or 3-ring file with sections

3. Managing Time

  • Segment large tasks into chunks.
  • Use calendars/day planners to keep of long term assignments, due dates, and deadlines.
  • Reminders on computers and smart phones.
  • Organize – daily, weekly, monthly to-do lists.
  • Time estimation worksheet with estimated vs. actual time tasks table.
  • Use prompts to guestimate the approximate time and develop a better internal system for keeping time.


Shopping for a Program Checklist

If you’re shopping for a postsecondary college or career program for your autism spectrum or learning differenced student, consult this comprehensive list to make sure you are asking the right questions.

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CIP's full-year postsecondary programs offer individualized college academic, social, career and life skills support for young adults with Autism, ADHD and other Learning Differences. Learn more...

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