Teaching time concepts

Teaching time concepts is very important as the perception of time presents challenges when it comes to social interaction and learning.  Time and weather concepts forms part of teaching “abstract concepts” and it is hard for many people with Autism to understand the difference between concrete and abstract thinking.

Let me put it into perspective for you: “A child with Autism would know their routine during the week and might not understand why they have a different routine on a weekend. One could take this further and say that the going to school routine vs. the Saturday shopping and/or the Sunday church routines are different and this is more often than not very confusing for a child on the spectrum, the time the child’s needs to wake up, what the child needs to wear and the route to the destination changes during the normal course of the week”.

Other problems could include but are not limited to aspects like:

  • Knowing “breakfast”, “lunch” and “supper” but not know which is eaten at what time of the day; or
  • Wanting to swim or play outside and not understanding that the weather does not allow for this to happen; or
  • Wanting to go to school during the school holidays; or
  • Wanting to wear their favourite jacket when there is heat wave.

Understanding time and weather perception in autism can help parents and teachers develop a better way to communicate and teach their children. It will help when managing tantrums or meltdowns and it will help you understand than not everything a child does needs to be a “behavioural” concern.

The goals when teaching time concepts and/or weather concepts would always need to include:

  1. getting a child to understand the days of the week and days of the weekend – also helping them understand what happens when and on what days
  2. getting a child to understand the months of the year
  3. getting a child to be aware of concepts such as day and night, morning evening and afternoons
  4. getting a child to understand concepts such as yesterday, today and tomorrow
  5. getting a child to understand concepts such as raining, cloudy, storming, hot or cold

Most importantly remember that our children respond better to visual cues than to spoken language so prepare your child for the change in their “routine” upfront.

Ilse Kilian-Ross

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.