Visual Timers

Many IEP students need specially designed instruction (SDIs) that may include kinesthetic learning, or accommodations like visuals. A visual timer can help a child visualize time.

It’s one thing to tell a child they have 10 minutes left before it’s time to leave. Watching a big timer on the wall or watching the minutes tick down on a clock can help a child begin to feel what 10 minutes is.

A color coded visual timer is a great option for visual learners.

I actually grew up using a visual timer all the time.

See, for a long time, I was a competitive swimmer. We just called them pace clocks.

But, other than the big block of color, a pace clock is very similar to a visual timer. That’s mostly what I think of when I see students using visual timers.

What is a Visual Timer?

It’s a fancy name for a clock. Just kidding! They aren’t all necessarily clocks. I say that because that is what you may hear from your child’s IEP team.

Usually, a fancy version of a clock if it only had a second hand. Many kids need visual timers. They serve as a sensory or visual reminder of time. What goes around, comes around, right? Analog Clocks are sexy again.

A Visual Timer is a simple accommodation. You will often see them in an Autism IEP, 504 accommodation for ADHD, or anyone who needs visual reinforcement.

An app or a physical timer is used to provide both a visual reminder and an auditory alarm to keep the person aware of time.

These are often used when completing a task or doing another time-sensitive or time-restricted activity.

Types of Visual Timers

There are so many options available for students. Some of the options below for timers include sound. Again, think of the child and if they need a multi-sensory approach.

If you have a child or student who would benefit from using a Visual Timer, you can pretty much find anything to meet their needs and interests.

  • Apps, either on a phone, device, or desktop.
  • Many have a sound that can be volume-adjusted or muted.
  • Available in a variety of colors to accommodate visual needs and preferences.
  • Physical Timers (as opposed to an app) can have sand, colored oil, gel, lava-lamp-type material, and other features to meet other sensory needs.
  • Sand timers (what our grandmas used for eggs!) are small and can be transported anywhere, requiring no electricity.
  • Some are strictly visual, some are strictly auditory. Many are both.

Common Uses for Visual Timers

They’re used for just what they say–a visual reminder of the time. This might be used to indicate the end of playtime before clean-up begins. Or, if you asked a child to read or complete a task if they struggle with task paralysis.

Many dentists even send home egg timers with kids, so that they know exactly how long to brush their teeth. Some toothbrushes have light flashers that serve this same purpose.

The possibilities are endless.

If your child with autism or ADHD has a hyperfixation, a visual timer can be a good way to manage that.

Visual Timers for Autism

In addition to the 3 free Visual Timers above in the Amazon widget, here are a few more.

  1. Visual Timer on iTunes.
  2. Mr Bomb and Friends, kids love this one! Just make sure it’s not too distracting.
  3. Visual Countdown Timer on iTunes.
  4. Kids Timer on Google Play
  5. Visual Task Timer on iTunes.
  6. Children’s Countdown Timer on Google Play
  7. Visual Timers, on iTunes.
  8. Timer for Kids, on Google Play
  9. Happy Kids Timer, Google Play (I like this one because it also has chores!)

Visual Timer in your IEP

Like most other resource posts, I like to add a blurb about how to get this in your IEP. Visual timers are affordable. And, I’ve shown you several free ones. So, cost shouldn’t be an issue.

Still, it amazes me what some people will dig their heels in about and not want to add to an IEP.

I can hear it now. “Well if we let Jacob use his tablet during class for the visual timer, I’ll have to let all the kids use tablets.”

Um, no you won’t. Jacob is a child identified with a disability who needs support, services, and accommodations specific to him.

Anyway, if it’s a problem, do what we always do: Put the request in writing, follow up, and ask for a PWN. Good luck.

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