What’s the time Mr Wolf?

This week we’ve been trying to teach the concept of time. A tricky concept at best but Dylans ABA consultant has a handle on it!

We’ve brought Dylan a watch. Not digital but with hands. Specification was with a large face, clear of pictures or decoration. Oh and no second hand.

We found a watch. It has a second hand but otherwise meeting spec. Now to see if Dylan will tolerate wearing it.

Right. It’s on 🙂

Dylan had a programme learning the time about a year ago which has been maintained and reviewed since it was originally taught. It was pictures of clock faces and the written words for ‘o’clock’ ‘quarter-past’ ‘half past’ and ‘quarter to’ for Dylan to match to the clock faces. Dylan found this difficult as a matching programme so we took the steps back further by using a real clock with no batteries so that Dylan could see the hands moving to make the different hand positions more obvious. This was also difficult so we stripped the skill back even further by removing the second hand and just having the hour and minute hand. Totally distraction free. Only then was Dylan able to report the correct time on the clock face. From there we built onto the skill, layer by layer. Slowly replacing the second hand and giving more choice options for Dylan to answer from. The ehole porcrss from initially introducing the paper clock faces to mastering the 4 time matches took about 7 months in total.

But this is different. This is the concept of time.

Dylans day typically appears to run from mealtime to mealtime. Once he has eaten his breakfast he is asking for lunch.

Dylan requires reassuring countless times throughout the morning about what he will have for his lunch. Then (at lunchtime) he finally eats his lunch before he is then bang on it planning his dinner and so on. This appears to be Dylans current model of time. So to open up Dylans concept of time to a less anxious routine we are throughout the week- every hour through the waking day, approx 7am through to 6pm, having an alarm going  off every hour on the hour and we ask Dylan

‘What time is it? What are you doing?’

Dylan then verbally approximates the time (which is difficult but not impossible to understand) and then with his Ipad he selects an activity or statement for what he is currently doing. Dylan then copies the text from the Ipad to a purpose made paper schedule for him to record his day. The idea is that he develops awareness of sections of time in the day.

Here are a selection of his diary sheets.



It’s an interesting programme and Dylan is certainly developing the habit of checking the time when prompted. However, for us it’s a long day when you’re governed every hour by an alarm.

And Dylan still asks for lunch at 9.30am

Still, it’s work in progress 🙂

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