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DISORGANIZATION

Organizational skills require the highest level of integration of the cognitive skills of concentration, memory, sequencing, and problem solving. If your family member has difficulties in any of these cognitive areas, he will most likely be disorganized.

Our ability to organize is an automatic function. In other words, we do not recognize that we are organizing information for daily home or work activities. Our brains automatically perform this function for us. However, when someone suffers a TBI, it becomes quite evident that this automatic process has been altered. Your family member' s previously neat home or office may now be strewn with papers, books, and household items. He may become frustrated with the amount of time it now takes him to reorganize before he can start any projects.

Your family member' s organizational difficulties will most likely never completely resolve. For that reason, an external organization may need to be used. Notebooks, checklists, and Day Timers can be quite helpful in organizing his home and work environment.

Examples

The following are examples of organizational difficulties you may observe:

1. Before the injury, your family member may have been able to remember times and details for meetings. He may have never missed an appointment or arrived at a meeting unprepared. He was naturally efficient. However, his life is now in chaos, and he is no longer ready for appointments, even though he spends a lot of time "organizing" his life.

2. Your family member may have difficulty finding things. He swears that he put his papers in his office, and they are nowhere to be found. He finally finds the papers filed in the wrong folder.

3. Your family member may master the art of note-taking. However, he can never find the notes when he needs to relocate them.

4. Your family member used to be excellent in verbal confrontations. He was always able to solve problems quickly. He is no longer able to think on his feet the way he did before. Consequently, he is not as successful in handling work-related problems.

Management Techniques

1. Establish an external organizational system for your family member. One of the commercial Day Timer calendars may be very useful. However, you can also accommodate this organization through use of a notebook and other types of calendars. Remember, the important point is to develop the external organizational system. For that system to work, he must use it daily.

2. Set up an organizational system for your family member's environment. Have a designated place for every file, pen, pencil, calculator, and envelope. Encourage him to always put items in the proper place. He will save much wasted time.

3. If you teach your family member only to take notes, you will solve only half the problem. The note-taking needs to be part of the whole system for organization.

4. Encourage your family member not to engage in verbal confrontations or attempt to problem solve on his feet. He needs to be encouraged to make decisions after he has had the time to process, organize, and problem solve, using all the information.