A structured work system is a primary component of the Structured Teaching framework, which was developed by the University of North Carolina, Division TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication Handicapped Children). A structured work system is a systematic means of presenting information in a way that is received and understood by the individual. The goal of a structured work system is to promote independence by providing the individual information on what to do in a designated work area. In structured work systems tasks and activities are organized in a way that are understandable to students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
- What work? What type of visual cue will label each task, container or folder?
- How much work? Sequence in which cues or tasks are presented.
- When is task finished? How will student mark progress through the work system and know when he is finished?
- What comes next? What type of visual cue is used to communicate what’s next/choice?
When an individual with ASD is using a structured work system, he or she is in a designated work space with work activities in a specific area. Another area in the work space is designated for finished work. The individual uses visual clues to determine how much and what work he or she is to do, where it is to go when it is finished, and what he or she is to do when the work is complete.
Video Demonstration Strategy
Credits: Amanda Arnold Elementary, Manhattan KS
How To Use
Work systems can take many forms. No matter what type of work system is developed, it must be individualized to match the ability level and skills of the person using it. Before implementing a structured work system, the individual using it must receive direct instruction on how to use the system in a one-on- one setting. After the system has been taught, the system is moved to an independent work setting. The goal is for the system to be generalized to other settings such as general education classes, the home, the community, a jobsite, etc.
When an individual is using a structured work system, he or she would do the following in the designated work space:
- Look at the tasks or activities to be completed
- Begin working on the specified tasks in the designated work area
- Complete each work task or activity
- Place completed work in the finished area
- Move on to the next activity, according to his or her individual schedule
When To Use
Does your child/student experience:
- Difficulty knowing where to be when it is time to work?
- Difficulty knowing what work or activities to complete?
- Difficulty knowing how much work he or she needs to complete or how long the activity will last?
- Difficulty understanding when he or she is finished working?
- Difficulty understanding what comes after work completion?
- Difficulty with completing work due to distractions in the environment?
Structured Work Systems can help provide the information for all of these situations.
Structured Work systems can be used in any setting with all ages of individuals who have ASD’s and can be created by parents, family members, employers, or educators. These types of systems not only promote independence, but also facilitate participation in school, social, and community activities.
The goal of a structured work system is to promote independence by providing the individual information on what to do in a designated work area. In structured work systems tasks and activities are organized in a way that are understandable to students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)