How many times a day do you look at your watch or the clock on your phone?  If you are like me, then you probably do it many times.

We have the concept of time.

We understand that we must manage time to function well in life


For example: We know how long it takes to get somewhere, how long it takes to get ready and we can figure out, based on the above, how soon we need to leave to arrive at an appointment on time.

But so many of our special needs children do not grasp the

They do not fully understand a half hour versus 45 minutes.

Or that you need to do something for 25 minutes then get ready to leave.

I know Elizabeth and I have had many talks about time.  But for those who have the same disorders that she does, Dyspraxia and Sensory Processing Disorder, time is simply not grasped or fully understood.  By this I mean, Elizabeth knows how to manage a schedule, she knows what she is doing each day.  She even remembers dates and events for me, which trust me, makes her smile because I “lost my focus” as she says.  But if I ask her how long she was volunteering, I may receive the answer of “about 20 minutes”…and she was there for 2 hours.

So, recognizing the needs of our special needs children is critical.  Putting supports into place to help them is critical. Teaching and reinforcing concepts of time is critical.

But how to do this?   

I started with a timer.  I started by telling Elizabeth what we were doing and for how long. I started by telling her what we would do next once the timer went off.  And we used the timer for managing time on the T.V., time until we had dinner, time that we would do homework.  

I love the visual timer because it spoke for me, it was doing its job instead of my voice being used. And if anyone was displeased, they could blame it on the inanimate time, not mom( insert smiley face here).

I have to say for those who need this kind of help, the timer I would recommend to try is the Time Timer

Back in the day, we used a kitchen timer.  You set it.  And it went off…loudly.  And then we did what was next on the schedule. Once your heart rate went back down to normal that is.  This time timer does not do that, it has a nice soft sound that signals time is up.  Which is both comforting and less anxiety producing than mine was.

Also, as opposed to the timer I used that had numbers only, this one has a red face that marks the time.  As the time ticks down, the red goes away.  So that our children know, if there is no red left, time is up.  

What a great visual schedule!   You can teach them to look at the clock for the numbers and how much red is left.

I always talk about teaching.  Because as parents and caregivers to these special needs children, you want to help them know and understand as much as they can about life and the world.  Taking the time to teach about schedules, taking the time to make the visual schedule (be it pictures or words) and taking the time to talk about the schedule after the day is done, will so help to reinforce concepts that prove hard to grasp.

This time timer will be a major sensory tool in their success to working with the concept of time.

Trust me, the time will become a very close friend of yours.  I am looking at the kitchen timer now and smiling because I can remember the words of Elizabeth “ Man, the timer went off, come on Michael, time to brush our teeth for school.”   

Yup, she may have not liked the time…but it worked.

I wish you all a good week.

Please let me know if you have any success stories you wish to share.