The timer is one of everyone’s favorite tools for structuring time and activities for children with autism. It can be incorporated into all parts of daily living.
It was once explained to me that a parent could blame the timer for everything that has to do with transitions.
“I know you want to stay in the playground but the timer said it’s time to go home.” Or perhaps, “The timer thinks you might have to go to the potty again.” My favorite at Christmas is, “The timer will tell you when you can open another present.” At our house, the timer was the higher authority. The timer is a fair arbitrator. It didn’t respond to whining or behaviors and it very coolly and serenely had to be obeyed.
It works! You just have to remember to put it in place and use it before you enter the big struggle of wills.
It’s just a simple kitchen timer….BUT we needed one that could count down and count up, it had to have a magnet so it could be easily found on the refrigerator and a clip/stand so one of us could wear it or place it close to us at the table if we were working.
Along the way, we found the Time Timer, invented by a mom of mainstream kids who needed a visual for transitions to stop her kids from asking, “Are we there yet?” The Time Timer is a visual depiction of time elapsing. Kids on the spectrum have a tangible way to see time passing as the red dial disappears.
There are all kinds of timers, and implementing them into any aspect of the day can significantly help in cutting back problem behaviors and anxiety over what is happening next.
– Julie Azuma