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We shouldn’t underestimate the power of timers in terms of providing support in the development of all skills – transitioning from one task/activity to another, change in routine, reward and motivation to inspire or prompt are just some of the positive outcomes of using timers as a visual support.

Knowing what time looks like can be an abstract concept – visual timers are a great way of keeping track of how much time has passed or how much time is remaining. Timers are a fabulous tool to assist in showing this concept in real time – a visual display of numbers and/or colours counting down the remainder of time.

Visual timers are a perfect tool for:

Providing a sense of certainty – when time is represented in a visual format, there are no discrepancies – it is clearly visible for both the person needing the support and others providing the support. There is less chance of someone changing the timeframe as done so with a verbal instruction.

Supporting independence – the person is not having to constantly know how much time is left or how long they would need to work on an activity etc.

Developing / understanding the concept of time – Visual timers provide a way of understanding and processing the concept of time – something that can be really difficult for a lot of people.

Visual timers come in many forms. The form that you use simply depends on what works, not how it looks. For instance, one person may need to see the red section disappear on a time timer to know exactly how much time they have left. Someone else may use a basic kitchen timer that counts down the time.

 The various timers that are available work differently in particular places, too. The following examples of timers (as pictured above) can be used in different environments depending on portability and suitability to the activity.

For example, a liquid oil timer is quite portable, effective and is unaffected by water. However, the timer needs to stand upright and the quantity of time measured can be inflexible. An app on a phone has the advantage of being portable and is very flexible. Using a phone app though, is not always applicable where phones are not allowed, particularly in the school environment.

Ultimately, it comes down to finding the timer that works best for you and your situation. It is definitely worth investing the time and money to find the most appropriate timer that can be used anywhere, anytime! 🙂

Written by Sherri Cincotta

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