Order…The “Missing Link” For Many

Order as opposed to disorder.

Things being in their proper place, position, and condition. This is a concept that we don’t dwell on very much, but one that allows our lives to move along in a fairly predictable, organized manner.

Individuals with learning disabilities or attention deficits often miss the order in their academics and in the world around them. This may cause their studying, thought processes, and behavior to seem erratic and disorganized.

We have found that teaching these individuals the concept of order is often the first and most critical step on the road to becoming organized and making good behavioral choices.

The concept of order can be thought of in this way: Everything has a proper place in which it belongs, a proper position in space, and a condition, or way it should be.

For example, the proper place for a cup of coffee might be on the table. The proper position for it would be upright as opposed to upside down. The proper condition would be that it has coffee in it.

Let’s look at another example: The engines on a jet airplane. The proper place for the engines is on the wings, two on the left wing and two on the right. The proper position for the engines is under the wings. The proper condition is that the engines are in good working order.

So, how does this apply?

Sam was a ten-year-old who came into our office as a bundle of energy. Without regard to what others were doing, eh would burst through the waiting room, go into the clinic rooms and find a place to hid, generally making loud, impulsive comments as he went.

We worked with Sam on the idea of order using many concrete examples. Then we began to discuss what order would look like for a fourth grade coming into the Learning Center.

What would his proper place be? (The waiting room)

What would his proper position be? (Sitting on a chair as opposed to under it)

What would his proper condition be? (Sitting on his bottom as opposed to on his back, feet in the air, and using a quiet voice).

As Sam began to understand the concept of order, he began to “see” his world in a more organized fashion. He began to notice how he fit-in and affected other people. He began to understand the idea of making good choices. We analyzed order in many, many things in Sam’s life and schoolwork. Sam began to work hard at making good choices and felt very proud of himself for the choices he was able to make.

Tina was a hard-working student who was never a “behavior problem” in class. However, she was very disorganized in her written work and with her papers. She often lost her papers or forgot to turn them in.

We worked with Tina on the concept of order using concrete examples. Then we began to explore order with her schoolwork.

What would her name and date look like on the page if they were in order as opposed to disorder? How would they look if they were in disorder? (An awareness of order is dependent on also recognizing disorder).

We explored many other pieces of organization on the page in relation to order and proper place, position, and condition. Where should sentences start? Where should they end? How much space is needed between letters, word, sentences, and paragraphs? How do math problems look on the page? How much space is needed? What is the proper place, position, and condition for each number in various types of problems.

Tina also needed to think about what to do with her work when she was finished with it. What was the proper place for an English paper, for example. (in her notebook). What was the proper position? (On the binder rings in the English section). What is the proper condition? (Finished and unwrinkled).

As simple as all of this sounds, individuals who do not naturally see the order all around them may have a very difficult time with organization. As Tina began to understand order, as opposed to disorder, she began to monitor and develop her own organizational skills.

The concept of Order being this in their proper places, positions, and conditions, is taken directly from the work of Ron Davis of the Reading Research Council in Burlingame, CA. More information about this concept and techniques for teaching it, can be found in The Gift of Dyslexia by Ron Davis, Ability Workshop Press, 1994.