5 Tips to Organizing Information in your Brain for Autism and ADHD

Too much information often leads to overwhelm. If your room is somewhat messy, it's easier to clean, but if it gets too cluttered, you are more apt to avoid cleaning it because it's just too much. The information in our brain kind of operates the same way. It's really easy for autism to absorb too much information with the heightened senses that it makes it difficult to relax, decipher useful information for life living, and communicate effectively.

5 Tips to Organizing Information in Your Head | Autism | ADHD | Avoiding Overwhelm | Social Skills | Communication Skills

To help you better organize information in your brain, here's some helpful tips I've found... 

Look for Repeats

Information that is most important is often repeated through the piles of details. Look for that information, and focus on it.

This tip came from Psychology Today

Dump it First and Then Revisit

This is something I have been doing frequently for the last 20 years, and it's very helpful, especially in high-emotional situations like arguing with my sister, but it's more for written, planned communication, and it's very time consuming for the amount of information in the mind of someone with autism. Sometimes, it's just as overwhelming to see the information on a computer screen as it is in your head. 

But the way it helps is to just write all the crap in your mind down. It's no big deal if it's organized, or in any order, or even makes sense at all. Just dump all your thoughts out. 

Then do one of two things:
  • If info overwhelm... Delete it. If you go back to it later for that "good idea," you'll be overwhelmed when you remember all those details. Delete it, and then rethink what was most important. 
  • If emotional overwhelm... Reread, and highlight all the positive stuff and cross out all the negative stuff. Then reread the positive only without the negative. 

Work Backwards

Try to frequently ask yourself what it is you are truly trying to achieve. Are you talking with someone and want them to feel happy after talking to you? Or maybe you want them to be angry. Maybe you are just thinking about life and want to feel better. Whatever it is, think of the end result and work backwards. 

Eliminate any information that stands in the way of your goal. Include information that will help you achieve your goal. 

Outline the Big Picture and Wrap it Up

Try to make a brief outline with one word to small phrases for each line. This is the big picture, so you want, think English Class, a beginning, middle and an end. 

The end part is usually the most complicated for autism. It truly is an art to learn how to end a message. For purposes of yourself, you are probably seeking closure, but for purposes of communication, think about that English Paper's Conclusion. 

You don't want to add new information to the last thing you say. That requires more self-control than forethought. But what you want to do is summarize all you just said in a nutshell because more than likely, the person you are talking to tuned you out a minute ago, and this is the sentence they are listening to in order to formulate a response. 

Also, you want to make sure you answer, "So what? Why should we give a f...?" Some people might call that "relevancy." But telling someone what you just said is one thing as it does help them realize what should have been obvious, but if you really want the information to resonate with them, you have to flat out tell them why it's important to them. 

So basically, the last thing you should say in a conversation is what you consider so obvious it should go without being said. 

Use Proper Paragraph Form

Think in paragraphs. Use basic English class's "Main Idea" and then "Supporting Details." 

It's very common for autism to think of details first and then come up with the main idea from that. That's fine. But most people don't base their main ideas from supporting details and facts. Most people (according to studies) base their opinions and main ideas on emotions, feelings, self-identity, and social things (tribal mentality and herding instinct), and then from there, they find details that support their hypothesis generally ignoring all details that say otherwise. Autism usually does the exact opposite, and it's better that way. Your main ideas are generally more accurate as a result. BUT people don't think like that, so the most effective way to organize that information is to do it the way they think. 

Two reasons that last point is true...
  1. For purposes of communication, you want to display the information the way the person you are talking to thinks
  2. For purposes of self organization, this is a road that is already paved for a reason. It is more comfortable to think like that. If you can translate your cluster of details into a main idea and supporting details, it will be less overwhelming. 
Organizing information in your brain doesn't have to be overwhelming if you clear out the clutter once in a while. Thinking about English Class really helps a lot, but the most important thing to do is to consider your ultimate objective and try to work to achieve that (eliminating anything that gets in the way). 

More info for ADHD

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5 Tips to Organizing Information in Your Head | Autism | ADHD | Avoiding Overwhelm | Social Skills | Communication Skills

Michelle Grewe

Humor and Spiritual Writer and Graphic Artist, Michelle Grewe is an Air Force Veteran, mother, and a human jungle gym. Published in 7 Books, Michelle’s art is featured in her coloring book designed for spirituality and mental health, From Dust to Essence. Websites who have featured her work include Popsugar Moms, Mamalode, and Blunt Moms. Her nonsense actually does make sense if you drink enough vodka and pray. Find her on

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