Sequencing Issues & Strategies

Recognizing that a series of steps are completed in order is the basis of sequencing. From a young age, we learn signal words for this skill such as “first”, “next” and “last”. A person with a brain injury may have difficulty conceptualizing these words and may complete tasks out of order. Sequencing is best aided by visual cues and/or physical demonstration.

The challenges that are often seen in a person with a brain injury include:

  • Appearing disorganized.
  • Not knowing where or how to start a task.
  • Completes steps out of order.
  • Inability to finish a task they started.
  • Difficulty with shifting attention between tasks.
  • Unable to do more than one thing at a time.

Effective strategies include:

  • Break down larger tasks into smaller ones.
  • Map out a timeline of completing each step.
  • Verbally rehearse steps before beginning.
  • Practice visualizing the end result and then working backwards from there.
  • Write down the steps using key signal words or numbering.


Trouble sequencing can show up in lots of ways, from solving math problems to telling stories. Continued development of this skill takes external coaching and visual cues.