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Reduce Transition Trouble with Time Timer Visual Timers

Posted by Christen Barbercheck on

 

As a proud neurodivergent-affirming therapist and educator I celebrate Autistic Awareness Month by taking every opportunity possible to share my favorite strategies, tools, and accommodations that aid in removing barriers for those who are neurodivergent. Therefore, I was so excited when Time Timer asked me to be a guest writer for their blog this month. When I was exploring topics for Autism Awareness Month, it didn’t take me long to come up with the topic of transitions. 

As a therapist and educational consultant 9 out of 10 times when I am asked to observe a struggling student or a parent comes to me for parenting guidance the subject of transitions comes up. Transitioning from activity to activity and especially transitioning from a preferred activity ie. screen time to a non-preferred activity, ie getting dressed and ready for school, can be a challenge for any child. However, those with Autism may struggle even more to find the motivation to complete mundane everyday tasks. Many Autistic kids and teens struggle with executive functioning, including time management, or have a dual diagnosis of ADHD. Therefore having tools ready to go for transitions at school and home is essential. 

Here are just a few of my favorite ways to use Time Timer visual timers to ease transition troubles with Autistic kids and teens. 

 

Morning Madness: 

Time blindness is common for those with Autism or Audhd (Autism & ADHD). Those with Autism tend to have intense special interests. While being passionate about a hobby or activity is a positive in many ways it can create increased difficulty with transitions especially when the next task is far less exciting to that child. As we all know getting into a power struggle with your child while trying to rush them out the door is no fun for anyone. I often tell parents I work with to replace their verbal reminders with a Time Timer visual timer and let their child be mad at the timer instead of them when it’s time to do homework! If you are raising an autistic teen letting the timer do the nagging can really help to protect your relationship. As our kids get older we want them to be able to “accommodate themselves.” Therefore, introducing a Time Timer visual timer now, showing them how and when they can use it, will help them build those vital independent skills they will need as they approach adolescence and young adulthood. 

 

In my home, I often model this tool and continually share with my kids, two high schoolers and a middle schooler, how I use visual timers to manage my own tasks. 

See my Time Timer blog about using visual timers when I work from home! 

 

Teaching Time Management Skills:  

Time Timer visual timers are also a great classroom tool to teach time management skills. 

When I was a new classroom teacher I would tell my students verbally exactly how long they had to finish a task and include several warnings letting them know when they had 15, 10, and 5 minutes left. Strangely, or perhaps not so strangely, whenever I told them time was up, many of the students would groan and argue with me about how much time had passed. Time is such an abstract concept and many of my neurodivergent students didn’t instinctually “feel” the passage of time. Five minutes felt like just seconds! When a savvy colleague of mine showed me how to use the large Time Timer in front of the classroom in order to “show” my students the amount of time they had left instead of “tell” them, it was a game changer. 

I taught my students to check the visual timer from time to time so that they could quickly SEE how much time they had left. With this visual tool that showed them the passage of time, I was able to work with my elementary schoolers over that school year on budgeting their time appropriately. 

 

Break Time:  

Many Autistic students not only benefit from but truly require breaks throughout their school day or homework time. Having a short break from the demands of schoolwork can rejuvenate them and give them a much-needed energy boost to continue those challenging academic tasks. 

Often busy teachers find it challenging to manage these breaks while balancing the needs of an entire classroom. Parents may also struggle to facilitate these breaks while caring for their other children. Ensuring that the child doesn’t get “stuck” in break mode and fail to get back to the task at hand is vital. Transitioning back to “work mode” when a 10-minute break- turns into a 45-minute break can be an even bigger challenge. Therefore I always recommend that teachers and caregivers use a Time Timer instead of putting the responsibility on the adult to give warnings and alert the child when the break is over. 

One of my favorite strategies is to pair the Time Timer Dry Erase Board that my Time Timer MOD fits in. I write a brief and clear direction on the whiteboard telling the child or teen exactly what they should start doing when the timer goes off. Having the whiteboard connected to the timer, means that anytime they look at the timer and the written direction is right in their line of sight. Therefore even if I’m not immediately available to help the child transition from their break to the next task they have a visual reminder right there on the whiteboard. 

 

These are just a few of the many, many opportunities I find daily to use Time Timer visual timers to reduce and even eliminate “transition trouble.” 

Remember visual timers can be used to START a task, ie. “when the timer goes off it’s time to start your homework.” 

OR 

Visual timers can be used to STOP a task, ie “when the timer goes off free play is over.”  

How do you incorporate timers into your everyday routines? 

 

 

Enjoy these tips? Franki shares more time management, executive functioning, and behavior tips for parents, educators, and neurodivergent adults on her substack blog: 

https://frankibagdademedllmsw.substack.com/ 

And social media: 

www.facebook.com/faabfranki www.instagram.com/frankibagdade https://www.frankibagdade.com 

 

About the Author

Franki Bagdade is an educator, a mental health therapist, disability inclusion advocate, a speaker, an author, and a mom of 3! She is the owner of FAAB Consulting & Franki Bagdade Therapy. Her first book, "I Love My Kids But I Don't Always Like Them!" was published in 2021. Franki enjoys laughing at her own jokes, writing, reading, and drinking good coffee with good people. She lives in West Bloomfield Michigan with her husband of almost 20 years, her 3 children, and her dog and faithful sidekick Rocky. 

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