Using iPad timers for children with autism

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Using iPads interactively (the theme of this blog) is all very well but we often find that children are often more than happy to play with the iPad on their own without any adult interference.

I’ve ofteasd timern used iPad timer apps at school with children who have autism as they often benefit from clear visual and sound prompts to help them understand what is expected of them. It has been helpful to give a warning of when I plan to use the iPad with them and when they are allowed to use it on their own.

An iPad based signal can be more effective than any verbal or other visual warnings when a child is already focused on the iPad itself. It also works wonders when trying to encourage children to take turns sharing the iPad with each other.

timer sandMy favourites are ASD timer and Sand Timer (both free). You can set for any period of minutes/seconds and there is a noise when time is up (regardless of which app you are using at the time). Both of the apps above allow you to choose the ‘time up’ noise from a range of bleeps and tunes.

The iPad timer doesn’t just need to be a timer for iPad activities. You could also use it as a visual for other activities at home and at school e.g. ‘time for brushing teeth’ or ‘time until play has finished’.

Watching the clock hand moving round or the sand filtering down can help a child understand what is next in a concrete and visual way. This can be much more effective than saying “in 5 minutes” to a child who has difficulty understanding what that means.

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