Teaching the concept of time to children with autism can be challenging. It’s also essential that you are able to get this concept across to your child so that they can develop into their full potential. The team at Discover Camp Worth in Texas would like to share some creative ways to teach your child about time.
Use Visual Aids
Because time is an abstract concept, it can be difficult to grasp for any child, let alone an autistic child. Visual aids along with autism therapy programs help to transform the abstract into the tangible. Here are some ideas for visual aids that may work for your child:
Wear a Wristwatch
Give your autistic child an inexpensive wristwatch to wear, ideally an analog wristwatch, so they can watch the hands move. If you teach one time, such as “4 o’clock”, every day for a week or so, you might eventually be able to teach your child how to read the time no matter what time it is.
Explore Picture Books
Picture books designed to teach children the concept of time can be very helpful. Many of them include an actual paperboard clock with movable hands. Ask your librarian for help finding books like this.
Observe an Hourglass
Hourglasses, sometimes called sand timers, can be very helpful to teach your child how time passes. For instance, you and your child could time how long it takes for the sand to pass through and measure it against a wristwatch or wall clock. Find an hourglass made with plastic instead of glass for use with children.
An Experiment with Fruit
This is a simple but effective way to show the passage of time. Leave a piece of fruit out on the counter. Every day, you and your child can note the condition of the fruit and take a picture of it or write it on a calendar. Watching the fruit age over time helps teach the concept of time. For more ideas, seek help from an autism parent training program.
Teaching the Language of Time
Children with autism may have difficulties understanding the language of time, partially because it is so abstract. In order to understand words like before and after, you have to understand the simple fact that time passes. The visual aids for teaching the passage of time will help instill the awareness that time does pass. But in addition to those visual aids, incorporate the language of time. This language includes words like:
- Before, after, now, later
- Yesterday, today, tomorrow
- Past, present, future
- Days, weeks, months, years
- A.M., P.M.
- Morning, afternoon, evening
It’s helpful to emphasize the word “time” in daily language. For example, model the correct language structure by saying statements like:
- “It’s dinnertime.”
- “It’s bedtime.”
- “It’s playtime.”
- “It’s TV time.”
- “It’s study time.”
This serves as another reminder that time exists and that certain activities take place during certain times.
Use Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Calendars
Calendars will really help your autistic child to see physically when it is time to do something. Use calendars throughout the home, in every room. Make sure you hang calendars where your child can look at them on their own time, including in the bathroom. Fill out the dates with the activities that take place on those days and times. Doing this will not only help your child grasp the concept of time; it will help them to feel safer and more in control of what is taking place in their lives.
In addition, place a wall clock next to the daily calendar. Mark the activities with a small drawing of where the clock’s hands will be at that time. If your child can look at a daily calendar and see that they are going to a recreation center at 4:00 p.m., they can connect the written time and the time on the actual wall clock.
Get Support for Teaching Your Child with Autism Today
When your child grasps the concept of time, they’ll be better able to become functioning adults, able to adhere to a schedule, hold down a job, and more. If you’d like support for your child with autism, please contact Discover Camp Worth in Texas at 855.915.2545.