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Visual Timer for Autistic Children

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The Time Tracker Helps Children on the Autistic Spectrum Cope with Transitions

Many children on the Autistic Spectrum can have difficulty coping with transitions from one activity to another. They find it hard to stop what they are doing without a bit of help and a lot of advance warning. Failing to take this into consideration can lead to the child refusing to stop, or at their worst can lead to angry outbursts, adding to the cumulative stress which can sometimes be present for both child and parent.

One product I have found that works particularly well with my own children is the Time Tracker. This handy device can count down any length of time, changes colours from green to amber to red to let the child know time is running out. It and can even give an audible signal, handy for my sons who might not notice the device's light has changed from green to amber, or amber to red.

It has helped immensely with my sons in our home.

It can also help in yours.

Time Tracker

Time Tracker

Using the Time Tracker

Where I have gotten the most use from this tool is with computer time. My son LOVES playing on the computer. He would spend hours playing games on it if I let him.

Trouble is, if he is is allowed on the computer for too long he becomes over stimulated and becomes very agitated and angry. So I have to limit him to 30 minutes each day.

Before using the Time Tracker, this meant setting a kitchen timer or watching the clock then letting him know when he needed to end play. Invariably, he'd get to the end of 30 minutes and "Just let me finish my level!" Five minutes more would turn into ten. Ten would turn into 20. Next thing I knew, he'd be off on an aggressive outburst.

By using the Time Tracker, my son gets warning 5 minutes before his time on the computer runs out. We can easily set the device to allow for any transition span we want, from a few seconds to several minutes.

Time Tracker Device

The Time Tracker is sold by Learning Resources, an award-winning company that produces toys and learning aids for children from age 2 - 12 years. It is a brand trusted by teachers and parents alike.

Time tracker helps with music practice

Time tracker helps with music practice


Colour Changing System

The traffic lights change from green to amber to red as time run downs. When you start the Time Tracker, it goes green. During the transition phase when the child is preparing to change activities, it turns amber. When time runs out, the light turns red. The tracker can be set to remain green for any length of time as well. These visual cues are ideal for those children who do not react well to sudden noises and also for those who would not be able to hear an audible warning.

The use of transitional cue combining with awareness of what will happen at the end of the time limit, helps to minimise over-reactions to change.

Audible Warnings

As well as visual cues, the Time Tracker can also give audible cues. It comes with 6 sound effects to indicate time is running out. This is especially handy for those children who either do not look up from their activities, or who would not be able to see a visual warning.

In the Classroom

The Time Tracker has been used successfully in the classroom with both ASD and other students. The Time Trackers can be used for timed exams and for aiding students in changing from one classroom activity to another.

Most methods and devices, such as this one and visual time tables used in classrooms to aid children with special leaning needs, are also successfully utilised by those students who do not have special learning needs.

What Do You Think of the Time Tracker

encourage sharing and turn taking with time tracker

encourage sharing and turn taking with time tracker

On the computer

On the computer

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Reasons to Use the Time Tracker

Use it in the classroom:

  • Study sessions
  • Exams
  • Practice tests
  • Projects
  • Presentations
  • Free play sessions

Use it at home

  • Time out
  • LImiting time on computer, TV, or other device
  • Study periods
  • Countdown to bed
  • Countdown to meals
  • Bath time
  • Teaching children to take turns

Do You Have a Question or Comment?

JEMArtistry on March 17, 2012:

This looks like a transitional aid! Thanks for sharing this. I'm adding a link to this link on mine. :)

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on August 12, 2011:

I can see why you recommend this and even parents without a special needs child would find this beneficial. I know the computer time issue comes up with most children. You've explained it quite well.

Blessed by a squid angel and featured on You've Been Blessed.

SofiaMann on November 07, 2010:

Very good idea. A helpful resource for all people. Nice lens. Congratulations.

KarenTBTEN on November 07, 2010:

That does look like it could be helpful -- not just for children on the autistic spectrum, but for others with hyperfocus or time management issues.

nukemdomis lm on September 15, 2010:

What a great device to get the kids thinking about time management at an early age.

anonymous on August 13, 2010:

@julieannbrady: I agree this product is great for children. If you are looking for a personal time tracker, look into Tempo- its a web based method of organizing yourself. If you're interested, check out:

julieannbrady on June 05, 2010:

OMG! This is something I think I personally would like to use with myself to balance me out and balance the amount of time spent on any one task.

Robin S from USA on June 03, 2010:

This is new to me. What a great gadget!

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on June 01, 2010:

I've seen this before and really like it. Thanks for the review!

Robert T Gasperson from South Carolina on June 01, 2010:

That is an Awesome idea. It might even help with children who are not autistic. Just a way to set solid boundaries that they can see. I like it. Great work.

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