my son is 5, has autism, and attends a mainstream school. One of his difficulties is that I find he cannot wait for anything. If he asks for something, and I tell him ‘in five minutes’ he will often cry and shout it takes too long. I have tried linking with our routine ‘eg after your toast’ or ‘after we have lunch’ but he will still get upset I darent mention his birthday as he will cry on occasion saying it’s too long away!! He needs to has what he wants immediately... even when making cupcakes he gets upset about the 12 minute baking time. Why is it he struggles with ‘time’ and how can I help him not get upset... he doesn’t seem to learn that in life, we have to wait for things, especially good things!! I just want to understand how he sees things
I suspect your son is asking for precision. Get a big clock with hands and tell him visually when the right time for something will be. You may be accidentally adding to his problem by giving vague answers that are, in his eyes, arbitrary.
Interesting. It took me a long long time to learn to tell the time .
Doesn't need to be able to tell the time - just undertand that "when the big hand points here, it's time for......."
Thanks so much, will give the clock a go!
Sand timers for 5/10 minutes may help for more immediate things :)
Hello.. I don't know if this will help but I will try to explain.. when I was a youngster a minute was literally like an hour.. I used to sit counting the seconds.. 60 seconds in a minute, I would count 1, 2,3 and all I could think was how am I ever going to make it to 60.. it's so long and so far away.. when I got to 60 I couldn't comprehend that there was another 60 coming along.. total autistic focus.. total fixation.. I'm now a lot older and still have time issues.. I have to be very precise..
These days if I say 6 o click I mean 6 o'clock 1 minute late, that eternity of a minute will literally seem like an hour so I have learnt to occupy my mind so I can try to pretend it dosent exist..
My advice would be to firstly see if this is the same and try to understand that this is a really big thing.. secondly try not to focus on the time infact i wouldnt mention it myself at all but try to occupy his mind so he dosent start focusing on time.. I guess it would be like a dripping tap.. once you know it's there that's all you can hear.. yes he has to learn how to tell the time and manage time as he grows but if he is like I was.. actally reading this back has made me think it might have been anticipation of what it was counting down to.. as again still to today I can not under any circumstances deal with anticipation.. anyway please don't think I'm in anyway qualified to give advice on this matter it's really just my experience..
Hi - I’m so glad you’ve posted this (and I’ve read the fantastic replies) - my son is the same age and has always been preoccupied with time. He loves timers, counting down and knowing when things happen.More recently, he’s been asking ‘... in how many minutes?’ for most things, throughout the day - so many tines.
These responses have helped me understand a little more x
My daughter is very precise with time if you say in a minute she expects to wait a minute no longer, she will get very angry when people don't stick to timing, like at the Dr's her appointment was at 9.20 the booking system said that they were running 26 mins late so she expected to be seen at 9.46, when she was called at 9 57 she shouted at the Dr and gave her a lecture! Dr explained that she had been helping another patient but my daughter did not understand and still had a go at her. Funnily enough Dr consented to sending her referral letter after that!
We have to be careful with wording we use "in a while" or a time frame to give a bit of flexibility.
One of the biggest causes of stress and meltdowns is the inability to deal with unpredictability and chaos. As children get older, their world gets bigger and the exposure to chaos makes it difficult to understand the world. The more things you can fix and make predictable, the less stress. Most people are incredibly random (from an autistic view) and their life seems to be an ongoing calamity of errors that magically seem to gel together to get through their day. If you can build a nice, simple, predictable schedule for home life, it will make everyone's lives easier. Things like meal times, bed times, including space for the need for decompressing and processing the day's activities, clothes storage, bath times etc. - and stick to it.
Knowing life at home is guaranteed safe and stress free will make an auties life calmer. As a parent, you need to be precise, straight and honest. "because I say so" is random and without any possible way to understand the decision. All rules need to be able to be logically measured as sensible and fair - and they will be accepted. Personal frustration needs to be controlled to build trust in the system.
The decompressing part may be them sitting in their room alone or playing video games (converting out of control events into controllable events) until the day's randomness and frustration fades to a manageable level.
Thank you all for your very helpful replies- I find it always helps to hear other’s experiences, including from people who have autism themselves- thank you for sharing! I just want to know how he might think as he’s not able to tell me himself.