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4 Individual work systems

What factors would you need to consider when organising a
work system for a 5 year old child?

Click for video of child at workstation

Work system
click on controls to play video (1.29mb


This is a systematic way for the child to receive and understand information.
By following the work system the child is able to work independently.

The individual work system answers four questions for the child.


1                   What work?

2                   How much work?

3                   How do I know when I am finished?

4                   What happens next?

A       Types of work Systems 


1                    Left to right – Finished box

2                    Matching (Colour, Shape, Alphabet or Numbers)

3                    Written System

         The work system clarifies the meaning of finished and the staff’s expection.



Not all children with autism will need work systems. 
However you may encounter the child who will do the same jig-saw over and over.  He/she cannot put an end to the activity because they do not understand start and finished. 
They may need direction to move to another puzzle.
The following is an example of a simple work system to help achieve independence at this task and to add to the number of puzzles completed.

3 baskets containing work to be lined up at a work station 

Three baskets are on the child’s left. Finished work on child' right (off picture)


The baskets hold the number of tasks you want him/her to do. The finished trays are then placed independently on the right hand table.

Child removes velcro card from front of first basket and places it on matching coloured car.  Then he/she completes the task  moves the tray to the right and moves on to next task. This system develops the idea of "finish".

Many children would only need to be shown this system once or twice before it would make sense to them.  A similar system could be used for many other activities   eg formal written work

Work Station (725kb

The child works from left to right. Matches the symbol on his table to the correct basket. Starts working from that basket.





Child takes basket, completes task and sets finished work on right. Then he goes back to check his schedule



Work systems make the concept of "finished" concrete and meaningful.


For more information on Structured Teaching go to 
Division TEACCH
University of North Carolina