15 March, 2013

Timer Corner

Beep beep beep, it's time for...


So, if you have a disability, you might find that you need to use a timer. If you're wondering why a timer would help someone function better, congratulations! You don't have to think about some things that are a big part of my life.

(Yeah I should chill out and be nicer but sometimes I get tired of feeling like I can't talk about things like timers because they are too weird.)

I liked to use timers when I was little just because I would time myself while I was singing. My family had a classy timer with three different displays--one would count the time something was taking, one was a typical timer that counts down, and one was a clock. There wasn't really any reason for me to time myself singing but I guess even at that age I could tell that I was going to have a long love affair with timers and I liked being around them.

When I was in fifth grade I spent about half a year being pretty organized and independent about getting ready in the morning. Until then, I would always have trouble getting ready because I would start thinking, spacing out, or reading books in the middle of doing things. But in fifth grade, I decided to start getting up at a certain time and turned my morning routine into a race where I was supposed to take a certain amount of minutes to do every piece of the routine. There was a natural reward in that if I finished everything fast enough, I'd have a bunch of time to watch TV and eat before school. I did pretty well with this for the rest of fifth grade, but in middle school I had to catch the bus earlier so the motivation to work that hard wasn't there.

In the last two years of high school I started getting a bit better at these things again because I would use music and timers to do all kinds of things like getting ready for school, taking showers, and studying. At that point in my life I really didn't like to think of myself as Autistic or disabled so I didn't really think about what I was doing, and I didn't know that other disabled people used timers. When I went to college and started living in a dorm with a roommate, I stopped using timers and music as much, because I had to do so many activities of daily living with someone else in the room, and I felt self conscious about it. Obviously, I wasn't able to do things as well or quickly once I decreased my use of timers. But I never totally stopped using timers and when I would play guitar, I really enjoyed timing myself and playing my songs in 5- or 10-minute intervals.

About the time I started writing this blog, when I was 20, I started using TV shows in a similar way to the way I use timers and music. In the last two years of college, I used timers and timer equivalents more than in the first two years, and the year after college I probably used them more than I ever had since I was in high school. I wouldn't say I use any of my timers or timer equivalents as effectively as I should, but I'm continuing to develop new ways to use them and learning more about them, and so I'm going to write some timer reviews, which will take into account what something is good for and how well it fits into my life. These are the things on my list so far:

1. West Bend timers
2. Update International timers
3. online-stopwatch.com
4. alarms on my phone
5. listening to CDs
6. YouTube videos
7. TV shows
8. singing
9. trains and buses
10. people


  1. Aaah I'm so excited to learn to use new things as timers! I don't know how to use TV shows as timers, please teach me your ways

    1. haha it might not work that way though I'm just going to say how I use them and benefits/drawbacks

      the tv thing is something where you need to get something done in a certain period of time so you watch an episode of tv that is the same length of time, I guess if you're trying to be really efficient you could watch something you already know really well so you can kind of time yourself with it. that's how I started out but now I usually watch new things.

      another thing is just to help motivate yourself to do something by doing it while watching an episode of tv.

      see it's not actually that cool but it's how I do almost everything

  2. I don't think this is the same, but I'm curious about your opinion on it. Lily often is very willing to move from step to step if we use a timer to advance to the next agenda item on her schedule and very UNwilling to advance to the next step if we don't.

    Mostly I chalked it up to her needing a little warning/notice/prep time to move from something she's comfortable/happy doing on to something we WANT her to be doing (whether it's something she enjoys or not...e.g. getting coat on, going upstairs, etc.)

    She doesn't need to even observe the time frame elapse or even seem to really care how long the timer is set for, as long as there's an alarm (duck quacking on the iPhone timer in her case) that tells her it's time to do something else.

    I used to think of it as making the duck the 'bad guy' because when it quacked it would be time to go potty or eat lunch or go to school or whatever, and as long as there was that duck as the middle man, she seemed content to comply with that demand, but if it was just coming from ME...there was resistance/reluctance/defiance.

    You seem to use it more as a way of staying on task or parsing your task? I had no idea it was even common. Now off to read the next timer post...

    1. yeah I have no idea. Are you saying you tell her that you are going to set the timer and then you set it, or just that the timer goes off? I assume you don't mean the second thing because you said that it provides her with warning that there is going to be a transition?

      For me timers are sort of everything but one thing is definitely that they give me warning and I'm able to keep in mind what I'm going to do next. It's really hard for me if people ask me to do anything suddenly and expect me to be able to do it quickly and feel positive about it, no matter what it is.

      The idea of the duck being the bad guy who is bossing Lily around is really funny though.

    2. Yeah, I tell her, "Okay, Lily, in five minutes we're going to do X", where X = whatever the task/activity might be. Then I set the timer and the duck quacks. Sometimes she protests anyway, but I usually just shrug and tell her that, "The duck has spoken." and she's cool with it.

  3. I have a conventional timer purchase riding on this series. I look forward to your surely excellent explanation and review.

    I use online stopwatch sometimes too. It's pretty nice for some stuff but using my computer can mess stuff up sometimes.

    1. Don't do it, I actually have problems with both of the timers I'm going to review and I need to get a new one.

    2. That's too bad. I was trying to figure out the best way to discover a timer that meets my needs beyond this series. After some thought thought I did an internet search for "gorilla timer," but could only find this clock.

      Perhaps your series will have some input.