What Are Structured Work Systems?
What are structured work systems?

What are Independent Work Systems?

Independent work systems, sometimes called structured work systems, are largely used in special education classrooms, especially for students on the Autism spectrum.   It allows students to become successful, independent learners.  Independent work systems keep students engaged, help them learn to follow a schedule, generalize and maintain previously mastered skills, and also decreases negative behavior.  

I live by using independent work systems in my self-contained classroom.  I love it because it frees up an adult and even allows me to track data at a later time.  


structured work systems

Who are they for?

Independent work systems are for students with disabilities specifically those with cognitive delays and moderate to severe autism.   This is for individuals who need a visual support system paired with a structured environment.  Independent work systems allow for a child to have a systematic and organized environment to complete their tasks with 100% independence. They will be able to use the system all by themselves when they are taught how to use them appropriately.   

independent work systems

These systems provide all the pieces that the students will need to complete the tasks without any adult prompting or intervention and it teaches them to attend to  visual cues that are provided.  They are able to then work all on their own.  

These systems are versatile!

Independent work systems are versatile and can be generalized in any setting.  I am able to use them in preschool all the way up to high school settings.  We can use them in both the general education setting and special education classrooms.   We can even use them at home to create more structure and give kids a chance to be independent at home.  Parents love this! 

In addition, they can be used in the community at job sites.  For example,  if a student is working in an office setting and needs to complete a structured set of tasks, these types of work systems can be set up at the office for them to work independently and work competitively.  Students with special needs are often prompt dependent, which results in a huge lack of independence.  These students are often given a high level of adult support throughout their entire school day.

Doing things on their own!

The ability to complete tasks independently is a vital skill for them to learn.   I bet you are thinking of a specific student right now.  We all have at least one student who relies pretty heavily on adult support.  Independent work systems will change that!

Another reason we use these systems is for skill maintenance.  These systems help students practice skills that they have previously mastered.  Using these systems allows for students to have extra practice with a task that they are already good at, but at least they won't lose the skill.

For example,  if Johnny masters the four-piece peg puzzle, you can put that same puzzle in the independent work center to continue the practice. Independent work systems also builds confidence and independence skills.

using furniture to create a visual boundary

Prepares them for the future!

These types of systems prepare students for future job placement when they exit high school.  Students need to be able to complete tasks in a sequence, on their own, in a certain amount of time, all while working on a job site.  This prepares them to do just that.  The whole goal of independent work systems is to promote independence by providing students with organized information on what to do in a designated workspace. 

For independent work systems, tasks are organized in such a way that students with ASD and other cognitive disabilities really understand making sure that all our students are independent learners before they exit high school. 

If you are looking for a kit to get yourself started with Independent work systems, then look no more.  I have created this starter kit for you for free, just click HERE or the picture below.

If you are wondering what all the great benefits are to using independent work systems are, then you can head over to this post to read more about that. 

I have a free, on-demand training on how to get started with Independent Work Systems and ALL of the benefits you and your students will feel from using them! 

Sign up here!

If you would like to pin this blog post for later, just click the post below. 

I am a High School, self-contained Autism teacher from Central New York, who is passionate about individualizing student learning. I am a mommy of three, lover of all things Disney, married to my best friend and addicted to chocolate!! I hope that you find great ideas and inspiration here, so welcome!!

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