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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

GBE2 Challenge: Time

Different ways of telling time in a special needs household:

First this then that.

Five more minutes until we leave.

Blue visual sand timer.

It isn't time for that. We do that on Wednesday. Today is Monday.

Four more minutes until we leave.

Time to brush your teeth.

Snack time is ALL DONE!

Yellow visual sand timer.

Three more minutes until we leave.

Yes, it is time for Daddy to be home, but Daddy is late. (Okay, that one just applies to my house. lol)

YOU GO TO THE TIME OUT CORNER RIGHT NOW FOR TWO MINUTES! Stay put. Nope. Time is not up. Stay put. Nope. Not yet. Okay, now it's time. Don't do it again.

Two more minutes until we leave.

Green visual sand timer.

It is time for you to give me a turn with your favorite toy.

It will be time to move in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 seconds.

Medicine time.

Bed time.

It's night time. You should be sleeping. Why aren't you sleeping?

One more minute until we leave.

In three minutes, we will start your homework.

Five minutes on task and two minutes for a break.

Time to leave. I don't want to hear it. You had pleaty of notice.'s time to put on your boots...

...and jacket...

...and gloves...

...and hat.

I spend my life counting time. I count it down. I give it up as notice. I try to offer it as rerence in the day as to what is expected at certain hours. I use it to teach social norms. It is a source of both fear and predictability for our children. It can be my greatest tool.

I own sand timers, picture symbols and miniature clocks. Just about all of our bags have digital timers good for counting down time in tough transitions. With enough notice to timing of an event, transitions can be so much easier. With a visual of the time, expectations can be right out front in plain view.

Because kids think we adults lie, you know.

Picture schedules can be your friend and can be tailored to fit the child. We even have vacuum pictures for ours to make sure our older son knows he will be afforded his "down" time in the afternoon. :)

I feared timekeeping tools in the early days. I didn't want our kids to be ruled by time. But, then, I realized that they already are. We all are ruled by time. It's just that, our kids with autism view time in a different way. I just needed to accept that and work with it.

This morning as I was rushing the boys out of the house to meet their buses, I was attempting to get some gloves onto the hand of our nose-obsessed older son. Nose cleaning in the morning is very important to him. Tissues aren't. That's okay--you don't have to visit my house. I understand.

The gloves I wanted to place on his hands were fingerless with an attachment that could go over the fingers to create a mitten.

"Nope! No nose. It's time for gloves," I commanded. Nose picking continued.

"Nose is ALL DONE!" I said again. "It's time for gloves." That didn't work either.

"Look, buddy!" I tried more forcefully. "It's time for gloves. You can pick your nose later!"

He stopped and looked at me.

"First gloves. Then nose," I said. "Gloves first. Then nose"

Life is all about priorities and timing in this house. Yep. I've got this down to a science.


  1. A science? I'd say you're a genius! :)

  2. Lol! Good thing the topic this week isn't manners.

  3. Um, Jo, I was attempting to reply to you. On this iPad and still failing at typing. Hahahaha!

  4. Got a laugh out of your post. My Aspergers grandson has allergies, therefore a stuffy nose every morning when he gets up. This results in sneezes that clean it out perhaps too efficiently. Can we convince him to carry a hankie? Of course not. So I arm myself with those little packets of tissues in my purse, in my pocket, in the pocket on the back of the seat in the car. You get the idea. And you can see why I might be a little amused by your struggle to get mittens on your son. Especially as I once again realize why the important things are so different for families with any child, but especially for families with special children.

  5. This has reminded me of when my kids were little, and when it was always 'time' for something!

  6. When do you find time for mommy?

  7. I admire your system, and especially the good nature and sense of humor you have in dealing with all these challenges. Your kids are so lucky to have you!

  8. Great post, and great tools! I work with many kids with varying needs, and having a strict schedule, with visual cues is SO helpful!

  9. One thing is certain: motherhood ain't for sissies. ;O)

  10. Thanks to you all for the replies. Autism has been a challenge for me in our household the past two weeks, so my blogging and replies have been scarce--and THAT'S my mommy time! :( You guys make me smile.

    This stuff isn't hard once you get used to it. Like anything, it's a way of life, and, boy, predictability sure can help the day go smoother for a lot of our kids!! I'll even pull some of these out in the middle of a difficult time to help diffuse the situation. Great tools.

    "Time" is a difficult and important concept for our kids!

  11. Loved this post, Amy, especially the little scenario at the end. You write so clearly that I could see it as if standing next to you. And hey, a little nose picking ain't gonna keep me away if I pass by yours one day *hugs to all*

  12. o cripe.....its time ......for......where is the red one; time for MERLOT dang wash the salty taste down....oh no thats right....we don't eat them!!!! How about some STACY chips and Pine Nut HUMMUS..comein up with a bottle of JOSH!

    ((hugs)) another chapter completed!!!!!!!!!!! woot woot

  13. I love your timers! What a great way to help your kids keep track.

    I don't think it's so much that kids think that adults lie, per se, as that time for children passes so differently. I could have sworn it was DECADES between my fifth and sixth birthdays. (And the time between after dinner and bedtime was only three minutes.) Having something external that they can check is a great idea.