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Time Management Tools for People with Autism are Important for Daily Activities

Posted by Christen Barbercheck on

Visual timers can ease challenges related to distractions and time management 

Every individual diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is unique in regard to their abilities and differences. Each has their own strengths and challenges, and not everyone with autism has difficulty with the same executive function skills. And of course, varying degrees of autism diagnoses exist, including Asperger’s syndrome. In short, there is no one “profile” of a person with autism. 

Yet, a common struggle faced by many autistic children and adults is the concept of time management. There are a range of time management tools and strategies designed to help those with autism proceed through daily routines as smoothly as possible. Visual timers are one such tool that can help lessen the stress of managing everyday tasks and goals, or support planning skills needed to arrive at work or appointments on time. 

More specifically, some autistic people struggle with the concept of tracking and managing periods of passing time or segments. Though many people with autism exhibit a rigid approach to routines and daily expectations, including keeping minute-to-minute schedules, others operate on a loose schedule seemingly not tied to any structure or time of day. 

Also common in many autistic people is a less developed ability to understand how passing time “feels”. While most neurotypical adults generally understand what reading for 15 minutes may feel like, or how long it feels to brush your teeth for two minutes, many autistic individuals do not. 

We live in a time when so many resources exist for people living with ASD and many other developmental, learning, and sensory processing disorders. And when it comes to the common challenge of time management for people with autism, adding Time Timer to your daily routine is a great start! In fact, Time Timer is clinically proven to increase appropriate waiting behavior in children with developmental disabilities. 


My child is autistic and has difficulty feeling overwhelmed by school assignments. Is there a timer that will help her with this process? 

A visual timer is a unique, but incredibly simple, tool that is easy to use and truly can make a difference for differently-abled students. Because people with autism may have a tendency to become easily overwhelmed by complex tasks or multiple demands, it’s best to essentially break everything up into “pieces”. Instead of looking at a fairly complex school assignment as a whole (and perhaps becoming overwhelmed), consider each step in the process individually. 

If the assignment is writing a summary of a chapter or passage in a book, encourage the student to look at in three steps:  read the passage, note a few major highlights of the chapter/passage (i.e., bullet points on paper), then create a nice summary of that passage based on the structure of the bullet points. 

It’s important to establish a realistic and adequate time frame for each step. Not too brief or overwhelming a time period. A visual timer may be used for each step in the process. Not only will this help break up a larger task into literal steps, it also will create “preset” times for each step, which provides structure and helps the student understand how long certain periods of time “feel”. 


We need support with time blocking throughout the day for managing schedule expectations and transitions. Can a visual timer help with this? 

Yes, absolutely! Creating visual schedules for people with autism and other developmental challenges can be particularly useful. The inherent design of a visual timer can be especially valuable because it represents diminishing timeframes of up to 60-minutes. This is different from a traditional clock face (or digital clock) that represents the passage of time in unending fashion. Time Timer visual timer's disappearing red disk is a perfect, easy-to-understand indicator of remaining time left for an established task, time frame, or schedule shift. This can be a particularly effective approach to time blocking for people with autism.      


Time Timer is for everyone! 

It’s true that Time Timer visual timers are an amazing resource that can be a great support tool for people with autism, ADHD, and learning disorders. Yet, Time Timer visual timers are for absolutely everyone! Whether you’re at home or in the office, there’s a million ways to use this awesome visual timer. 


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