How to tidy my asd'ers bedroom?

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salt2011
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12 Jan 2011, 11:03 pm

Hi everyone,

I've afraid of the inevitable fallout organising my 7 year old sons' extreme chaos would cause... he'd find it devastating, and would really pay me back..!

I've been avoiding having his school mates over for fear of ridicule, which really doesn't help build his social life..

I want this to be the year of the play date, and the only way I can see myself opening up our house to others is if it's at least reasonably tidy.

I have C.H.A.O.S. of my own, which I've been dealing with. For those who don't know the condition, it's Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome- partially straight messiness and partly avoidant social phobia, I think?!

Does anyone have any tips??

Thanks for any opinions.



buryuntime
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12 Jan 2011, 11:06 pm

I've been to people's houses before and lots of people have complete messes of things piled up everywhere and things dirty. I think a lot of people are too concerned with how things look.

Is his room just untidy or is there actual dirt in there, like leftover food and trash?



misstippy
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12 Jan 2011, 11:43 pm

Do 7 year olds really care about what another kid's room is like? If you can get it organized, then great, but if not, don't hold back having friends over. I lived in the most tidy and clean house on the planet, but I still had friends who had insanely messy houses (comparatively speaking). I still went over there because when I was a kid, I just didn't care!

Clean up the main areas of the house if you can and invite some kids over. Have some games for them to play if things aren't going all that well and stock up on exciting snacks. Kids love going to houses with good snacks! :)

just do it!! It'll be fine!



DandelionFireworks
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13 Jan 2011, 12:55 am

Is it causing him pain? Is he embarrassed? If not, just leave it.


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13 Jan 2011, 3:05 am

At 7, I honestly wouldn't have cared if any of my playmates (not that I had many) or anyone else for that matter, had a messy bedroom.

Anyway though, it's not unreasonable to organize your kid's room now and then. I suggest though, you make him part of the process, and do a lot of compromising. It has to be done in a way he approves of.

When I was 7, we had one of the earlier video game systems and a little TV, and one of the pretenses of cleaning my room was that we had to make room for the video game system.



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13 Jan 2011, 12:57 pm

We use the method Chronos mentions often: before Christmas and his birthday, DS has to get rid of toys to make room for the new ones.

What worked for my son was a labeling system: I went through his room, we made categories of each kind of thing, and I labeled each shelf and bin with what was supposed to go there. We did it together, now he's responsible for maintaining it (he needs his room to be clean, even though he hates cleaning it.) This has the added advantage of giving his friends no excuses at the end of a playdate; they can read the labels, so they have to clean up before they leave, too.

As for general messiness - when DS was little and stuff was everywhere, I would keep laundry baskets around the house. Categories of things would get whisked into laundry baskets (or the trash) and set in a room we weren't using until the guests left. The key to this system: bring the laundry baskets back and deal with them! (Otherwise, you're likely to have a room filled with laundry baskets of mislaid bills, etc.) So, for instance, one basket would have all the paper and mail I hadn't gone through, another all the shoes and clothes, another all the toys, etc. It takes about 5 minutes to swipe stuff into three baskets and pack it off somewhere.



azurecrayon
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13 Jan 2011, 1:12 pm

whether kids care about messes or not isnt the issue. kids are kids, 99% of them dont want to clean their room, but that doesnt mean they get to live however they want to. if that was the case, most of them would live in messy rooms never brushing their teeth, never going to school, and eating nothing but candy.

i would definitely get him involved in the organization process. it has to be something he participates in, unless you plan to be the one cleaning his room all the time. let him help you plan out where things will be.

once you get it organized, keep it that way. you can schedule clean up time into the day, say between brushing teeth and bedtime, or for 15 minutes after dinner, etc. but keep it scheduled and keep on top of it daily so it doesnt become a large project to clean it. make it part of his routine so that he gets used to doing it.

i found it helpful to spend a few cleaning sessions in my sons' rooms directing the cleanup and giving tips on where to start, what order to do things in, etc. we start with pillows/blankets, then make sure all the bins are in their place. we split the room up into zones, and then do one zone at a time. some kids, especially if they have executive function issues, really need the help in figuring out HOW to clean a room, and may need that help repeatedly. they may also take a very long time to clean up, which makes the daily clean especially important. if it gets too messy, they will simply be unable to even start.

i myself grew up in an extremely messy/dirty house, along the lines of a hoarder's house. it was a very shameful thing for me, i never had anyone over. i think it also had something to do with the ocd/ocpd tendencies i developed as a young adult. when i moved out on my own, i developed issues with repeated hand/foot washing, extreme anal tidiness to the point i would lie awake unable to sleep until i got up to make sure the doily on my coffee table was positioned exactly in the center, compulsive tendencies, etc. this faded somewhat over time, but i still struggle with tendencies towards exactness, having things placed just so, certain types of perfectionism, etc. i also still struggle with keeping my home tidy, and my desk is often a lost cause.

i am not saying your son is going to be crazy like me from having a messy room, but our experiences as a child can carry over into our adult lives and can affect how we live our lives and our very psyche. what we learn as a child affects who we become.


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13 Jan 2011, 4:14 pm

I don't know, azurecrayon - I grew up in a house with an OCD mom who would rearrange my room to her specifications after I'd cleaned it, piling everything that was "wrong" onto my bed to be put away again, sometimes three or four times after my initial "cleaning." That stays with me as an adult, too. (Annoyingly, my mother is also a hoarder. It's all behind closet and cabinet doors, though.)

I think, as a parent, especially one dealing with autism, you have to pick your battles - a messy room (depending, of course, on how messy, and what kind of mess) is something many people decide isn't worth fighting with your kids over. I thought I was going to be that Mom, until I found that DS needed a clean room (in which case, he needs to be the one to clean it.) We have a "no food in the room" rule, and a laundry-day rule that would have covered most of the sanitary issues - and I'd have been OK with him spot-vacuuming around all his stuff.

Yes, cleaning is an important life skill - but as long as your child isn't endangering his or her health, I think it's important to be aware that there are some things you can let go of.



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13 Jan 2011, 10:08 pm

momsparky wrote:
We use the method Chronos mentions often: before Christmas and his birthday, DS has to get rid of toys to make room for the new ones.

Gee, that'll put him in a happy mood for the celebration. Best way to tidy an ASD'er's room is not at all. Aspie children have attachments to things in their room that NT adults (or even AS adults) may think are worthless. I lost count of how many times I sat on the floor crying my eyes out, while my parents ransacked my desk, destroying and trashing anything that wasn't nailed down or didn't look valuable, all with a stone-cold look on their faces, completely ignoring my cries. I'm tempted to go into a rant about power, but given how unpopular they were in the past, I'll keep quiet. But if you're going put your child through getting rid of his toys, at least have the mercy not to make him do it around what are supposed to be the happiest times of the year. I still don't think you should make your child get rid of his toys, maybe put them into storage or give them away to your parents, so he can retrieve them after he grows up. A toy that you get rid of is gone forever, never to return.



azurecrayon
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13 Jan 2011, 10:12 pm

oh i am not advocating obsessive cleanliness, not by any means. there is no need to be fastidious. find a happy medium, extremes are usually no good no matter which end you are at.

what i find is that my little kids need their room tidy. when it gets messy, they dont want to be in there and dont spend any time in their own room. i can only imagine that K, who is pretty rule bound and likes his life structured, feels chaotic inside when surrounded by the chaos of a messy room. heck, when my living room is messy, *I* dont want to be in there. there are times i hate coming home from work because i know what a wreck the house is, or times when my SO and i are out and we dont want to come home. when N, who has severe executive function problems, lets his room get messy, he loses all ability to keep track of anything. its hard enough for him to keep track of things, if his room gets out of control, we end up with a lot more frustration from him not being able to find things, and me running his homework to school every week because it got misplaced in the mess and didnt make it into his backpack.

i am all for picking battles. heaven knows, with the number of autistics in my household, i am constantly choosing what battle is worth it. we have to be careful tho that we dont just avoid the battle because its a long and hard one. we have to weigh the benefit of the outcomes, too, on both sides. its one thing to let my child eat cereal for dinner, its still fairly nutritious and wont hurt them in the long run, but its another to not teach them to keep a clean house because i dont want to spend the hours organizing and teaching them how to keep it that way (and with 3 sons, those hours i am sure add up to weeks by now, and ive barely started with the youngest). yes it may be a long battle, but my goal is to instill it now while they are young, so its not a battle they are still fighting with themselves when they are my age. its not their physical health i worry about at all when it comes to teaching them to keep a clean house, its the mental health aspect.

things we learn as kids stick with us. i WISH my mother had instilled certain things in me when i was growing up. my sister is 10 1/2 years older than me and we had very different upbringing, and the things we were taught are still very much in each of us. its not just a simple matter of whether the child or their friends are going to care about the mess, its about teaching them how to take care of themselves.


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C - 8 yrs NT
N - 15 yrs school dx AS


momsparky
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14 Jan 2011, 6:13 am

Aspie1 wrote:
momsparky wrote:
We use the method Chronos mentions often: before Christmas and his birthday, DS has to get rid of toys to make room for the new ones.

Gee, that'll put him in a happy mood for the celebration. Best way to tidy an ASD'er's room is not at all. Aspie children have attachments to things in their room that NT adults (or even AS adults) may think are worthless. I lost count of how many times I sat on the floor crying my eyes out, while my parents ransacked my desk, destroying and trashing anything that wasn't nailed down or didn't look valuable, all with a stone-cold look on their faces, completely ignoring my cries. I'm tempted to go into a rant about power, but given how unpopular they were in the past, I'll keep quiet. But if you're going put your child through getting rid of his toys, at least have the mercy not to make him do it around what are supposed to be the happiest times of the year. I still don't think you should make your child get rid of his toys, maybe put them into storage or give them away to your parents, so he can retrieve them after he grows up. A toy that you get rid of is gone forever, never to return.


Aspie1, we have put a lot of thought into this system and came up with it after carefully considering my son's attachment to his things. That being said, stuff has to go; we live in a very small house, and it's either stuff going or no new stuff - his choice. I realize this is hard for my son, and we don't take his stuff without his permission, but if he wants new things, he has to make choices about what he has; we have extremely limited storage space ourselves. Having a structured time to do it that comes with a reward at the end has worked better for than blindsiding him in the middle of the year.

I understand that there are a lot of things that seem ordinary for NTs that are particularly difficult for Aspies, but loss and change are something he needs to learn about. We are doing our best to make this process as reasonable as possible, but I believe in it because getting rid of unused or rarely-used things is a life skill that everyone needs to develop (we have much the same rule for ourselves.)



misstippy
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14 Jan 2011, 10:08 am

momsparky wrote:
Aspie1 wrote:
momsparky wrote:
I believe in it because getting rid of unused or rarely-used things is a life skill that everyone needs to develop (we have much the same rule for ourselves.)


Tell me about it! I'm still learning how to do this! I have to watch an episode of hoarders every once in a while to get me motivated. I've been very fortunate that my son doesn't seem to get so attached to items. It's always ME having the hard time deciding what to get rid of!



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19 Jan 2011, 10:24 am

My kiddo loves a clean room, but makes messes with his Legos and all other tiny little part type toys...he doesn't seem too interested in anything that is not a thousand little parts...hmmm...For the last 6 mos it has driven me crazy as it goes from the playroom...then there's no space to play there...to his bedroom...then there's no place to play there...to going into my room...I tell him NO WAY...or the living room...

I finally got sick and tired of it. Yes, most kids don't care about a messy room. However, it's rather impossible to clean a room if its a mess. We track in dirt in our shoes, germs from outside, blah, blah...A few weeks ago I said "NO MORE" and literally spent ALL DAY organizing and cleaning his room and the gameroom...everyday I wake up before he does. I pick up the gameroom before he gets up unless there is only one toy on the floor...THEN I wake him up...then I pick up his room. Of course I will also tell him to help me once he is awake...and during the day if I see him take more than 2 toys out (sometimes he combines them to play) I will tell him he needs to pick up one before continuing...

I do believe that it's not healthy to live in a mess or dirty place. Not because I want a clean house or to impress others...but a messy house does make you feel "overwhelmed"...at least it does me...it does my son as well, although he's not great at cleaning up. I can tell a huge difference in his behavior when he house is nice, orderly and clean...

PS all the little odds and ends that they seem to want to collect, at least mine...I have a nice fabric box in is game room and I throw in there if it can't be put anywhere else...I do not just throw away his things, even little pieces of paper...unless it's broken, etc...and I will ask him.

Also, my mom was a clean freak although she hardly really made US clean the house. I don't always make my son clean it either. I am a very tidy, organized and clean person. I think that if you LIVE in a place that is tidy/clean, even if you are not specifically taught to do it, when you grow up you are accustomed to living a certain way and will also clean up to ensure you live in the same way...



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19 Jan 2011, 2:16 pm

I agree that the OP's son's playdates are not likely to be surprised or turned off by the son's messy room. Clean up the main areas of the house, and then don't worry about it. If his room is particularly bad or if he doesn't want friends in his room (my sons hate having anyone in their rooms including friends), agree on some toys to bring out to a common area (which presumably the parent has already tidied) before the playdate.

None of us are particularly tidy in this house, but I can't stand a colossal mess/dangerous conditions re germs, allergens etc. My husband and I keep the untidiness to what is a comfy medium for us in the main parts of the house (as in clean, but not spotless and nobody being constantly harassed to pick up), with a few chores contributed by the boys here and there. They are responsible for their own rooms. They don't have to make their beds, and we don't force them to pick up daily (how can you work on a complex project if you have to clean it all up and start from scratch everyday?!). Once a week they are responsible for cleaning their room well enough for it to be swept, dusted etc. for the sake of their health and allergies. Their allowance is dependent on this. We don't fight over it. Some weeks they earn allowance and some they don't, it's all up to them. This system works for us because my sons are motivated to earn allowance right now to buy lego and video games, otherwise we'd have to choose a different motivator. A few times a year we work together to do a deep clean, and get rid of the stuff we aren't using. We don't pressure them to get rid of things they want to keep.



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20 Jan 2011, 2:07 pm

My daughter is the opposite - complete neat freak. To the point of cleaning EVERYTHING in the house and liking things orderly.

She wasn't always like that - her room was like a tornado zone. She absolutely went nuts when I'd try to go in an clean it up. BUT once it was orderly - she was okay with it.

Chaos is over stimulating. There is too much going on. Finding things becomes overwhelming. CLEANING IT UP is even more overwhelming because you have to pay attention to the chaos and deal with it. I think a lot of people know what it's like to have a big job in front of them and not even know where to begin. It's stressful.

We found that clearing her room of a lot of the stuff and letting her decide WHAT she wanted in it and WHERE she wanted it was helpful. The things that she wanted - but choose not to keep in her room were put in the 'kids area' in the house. That area is kept pretty neat and organized but 'relaxed'.

Her room became her 'sanctuary' because it was free of the clutter and I think she realized that the organization and relative starkness of the room was a place for her to go to 'decompress'. Now - she doesn't like ANYONE in her room. Not even friends - she will show them her room - but she doesn't like to 'hang out' with them there. She chooses the area of the house where it's more relaxed. I have to laugh because when she's gone to a friend's house she's mentioned (to the parent there) that her friend's room is a mess and she can't stay over because she just won't be able to 'relax'.

This didn't happen over night - but it did work and I think it's really been beneficial for my daughter.