The Concept of Time

Understanding the concept of time is important for developing organisational skills. Some teenagers with autism have trouble processing the passage of time and may sometimes demonstrate a delayed response to certain stimuli (e.g. It may take a while for some teenagers with autism to understand words spoken to them before they respond and some teenagers with autism may exhibit an ability to focus on an object or activity for hours with unusual intensity, seemingly unaware of how much time has passed). In order to improve understanding of the concept of time, try these strategies:

Do not be tempted to rephrase or interrupt, allow the teenager with autism time (this can sometimes be longer than you expect!)

  • Learning sessions should be free of distractions and follow a structure with short, concise instructions and visual supports .e.g. First and Then.
  • It may be easiest to use times of day (morning, afternoon or evening) or days of the week or event titles (e.g. maths time) to help plan and organise tasks, social activities and other events.
  • Sequence cards, games, timers (download iOS app) and clocks help some teenagers with autism to understand the concept of time and sequences. Materials like this can be adapted and used in different places, for example at home and at school.

Read previous: ← Sensory Demands