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Blog: Organizing For Special Needs
The Brain and Memory Support

... or "I don't have a brain injury, but I sure as heck can't remember those people's names either."

A common result of brain injuries is memory loss.

We can have memory loss from brain injuries, strokes, serious illnesses, or stressful events.

Many people complain about their memory.

Our ability to recall things can fluctuate depending on our natural abilities, our health, and what is going on in our life at any given time.

How does forgetting things impact your life?

1) You are embarrassed
2) People don't trust that you can be counted on (an important part of relationships with others)
3) You feel stressed out
4) You have to re-schedule and try to remember all over again
5) You don't succeed at what you were trying to do
6) You are inefficient, and everything takes much longer than it could

The # 1 Key to Making your life easier is developing CONSISTENCY (find what works and stick to it), STRUCTURE (figure out what works for you), and ROUTINE (repeat what works so that it becomes automatic).

Consistency, Structure, and Routine will help all of us.

When life gets hectic is when we need our skills the most.
When you have a brain injury life can easily seem hectic.
Where do we find the support we need?

As my favorite yoga teacher, Molly Lannon Kenny says,

"Learn in the straight- away, what you'll use in the curves."

I like to use this example about habits when working with kids with brain injuries,

" I make a habit of NEVER setting any flammable item on my stove-top; not napkins, not a dishrag, not bills. I never know if I may be distracted someday, or even have mild dementia when I am older.
If I develop good habits now, I won't have to worry about catching my kitchen on fire later.
Even if I did leave a burner on, there is nothing nearby to ignite."

If you do something enough times it becomes automatic. This is very helpful if you have a brain injury, or even just a full life.

"MAKE A HABIT" that will benefit your life.


Find a calendar that works for you. The only way a calendar will work is if you use it. Consider computer based, hard copy, or both.
There are large magnetic calendars that stick right onto your refrigerator. These are great because most people in the family are going there at least once a day.
I prefer the month view calendars. I think this is the best style because you can see what is going to happen for the rest of the month, every time you add something to your calendar.

You can write in different colors to make things stand out.

I use the monthly calendar on my Mac computer(which is very user friendly), and I tend to write things that are family oriented on the fridge.

Use your calendar margins and write the information you need ON their calendar.
If you have a doctor's appointment, write down the doctors phone number, so if you need to cancel you don't have to hunt for the number. If you need to buy a birthday gift for a party, write that in the margin too. You can use the margins for a simple to do list.

You can print blank calendar pages from your computer, staple a few together, and carry them paper clipped to a notebook. Graph paper notebooks are great for making lists, and helping to keep handwriting neat.

Check online for popular free calendar programs.
There is one called hipcal (with a cute hippo logo), that looks very good.


Everyone who wants some control of their life needs a TO DO list. This is another case of
making a habit now, so that you will have the skills you need when things get hectic

Right now I am struggling because I am buried by paperwork to get my daughter's college applications and financial aid taken care of. I keep writing my "To Do" lists on different pieces of paper and putting them on different stacks.

I know better, and it is making me absolutely crazy.

Examine your struggles without judgement to find your solution. I see now that what I need is an online list to go with my online calendar. Within minutes I have noticed my calendar has a "to do" list, and I'm sure I will like it, once it becomes part of my routine.

Get satisfaction by crossing things off your list.
If you are using graph paper, or a computer program it is easy to make check boxes.
There are many programs on line to help with list making.
A popular one is www.tadalist.com, but there are many others.

How does getting your schedule organized impact your life?

1) You are proud of yourself
2) Your life is simpler
3) You don't worry as much
4) People have faith that you can and will do what you say you will do
5) You succeed at what you set out to do

Doesn't everyone deserve a little success? Take the time to pave the way to a better life.

Make it a habit, and it will be automatic (which means we no longer have to think about it,
it becomes part of our long term memory).

Next week....Time Management

Lisa Alishio

Clarity Home Consulting

Live Well in Your Home

posted on: 2/13/2008 12:30:00 PM by Lisa Alishio
category: Special Populations

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Organizing For Special Needs

by Lisa Alishio

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About Lisa:

Lisa Alishio, COTA/L, is a professional organizer with a background in pediatric and adult occupational therapy. Her intention is to help people of all ages and abilities to "Live Well in their Home".

Lisa's Website:


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