So part of working with the DAS is helping those with Autism understand the concept of waiting to come back to the attraction after a specific time, same with using the Fast Pass system. Being a Parent to a child with Autism I understand what happens in these situations: “Mom is I time yet, how about now, what is the matter with this time, why can’t it go any faster?! Come on, can’t we just go? Is it time now?” Those with Autism, have a looser grasp of the concept of time. So I have listed below some highly visual Smartphone Apps to help wait on their return times.
Of course most Smartphones come with a standard timer countdown app located on my phone in the Clock App. The additional ones on this list are more visual so as to better line out a quantifiable result that is engaging and customizable to hold their attention in a positive way.
For iOS only devices, I looked for Android specific but really the only Apps I could find were for parental controls on those devices versus “visual timers”:
Kids Timer App, Free Download: This highly visual app shows a tree blooming from a winter scene to growing leaves and eventually fruit over the course of the allotted time. As well the sun in the upper left hand corner acts as a visual quantity timer and as the time passes goes from yellow to orange.
From the developer: Set the timer to any time between 1 and 60 minutes. Press start and see an apple tree grow fruits. Eventually the apples will fall off the tree. As time passes, the color of the sun changes. The sun acts like a normal clock. Once the time is up you will see the bright yellow sun blinking and hear birds chirping. Download Here
Kids’ Timer- Lickety Split, by Swirly Studios, LLC, Free Download, This app allows you again to customize the task, waiting for the Haunted Mansion return time, or Fastpass+ Reservations for a show like Fantasmic! Once the timer is up you can customize a specific song from your iTune library to play to alert your child that it is time to go. If like us you have a plethora of Disney music, this would also be good to have your child select a song they really love so they look forward to hearing it and become alerted that it is time to return to the attraction or show!
From the developer: “The Lickety Split Musical Timer turns daily tasks into a fun, beat-the-clock game. Accelerating classical music encourages dawdling kids to get going, while an animated hourglass counts down. The abstract concept of time becomes tangible for kids. The timer uses encouragement and the power of music to motivate children as they move through daily transitions. So, instead of nagging, grown-ups are free to champion their kids!” Download Here
Childrens Countdown – Visual Countdown Timer for Preschoolers, Free Download: So if your child is like mine, they really don’t care if something is meant for a child younger than they are (like Elmo, we still can’t get over Elmo’s World or Sesame Street and go through phases of retouching on that cornerstone of our past); this app is primarily intended for preschoolers and as the timed amount disappears, a photo (which you can customize from your iPhoto library, to be the attraction you are waiting for) will appear ever more fully in the background. Once it is completely visible, it’s time to go back to the attraction and ride!
From the developer: “Watch as the timer runs from green to amber to red, helping the child understand that time is running out. A fun picture is slowly revealed as the time runs down and when the time is up the child is rewarded with an exciting sound and the picture spins. Background image changes to match the time of day, so that your child is given subtle hints as to what time of day the task they are being asked relates to.”
Per the reviews there is one slight draw back in there is a gentle, yet persistent, ticking sound which you cannot turn off. You can turn off the sound on your phone, but remember to turn it back up after you use the app. Download Here
Time Globe – by TOKIMATA
This is basically an Alarm Clock, but features soothing motions and relaxing colors and photos. You can add new themes, but the ability to customize is limited somewhat to their specific themes for the app. You can set a photo from your iPhoto library as the background, and a tip is to show your child how to use the app so they can select the themes and visuals present. It is slightly interactive in that if your child taps on the phone more “drops” will appear in the background.
From the Developer: “This entertainment app is super easy to use, simply open the app and begin to tap on the time, Double tap to show menu then musical note (to turn sound on or off), question mark (for help menu), pencil (to add your own custom text), smiley face (to add your own photos), crown (to remove ads), Modes (b-bubbly, n-normal, f-flutter, s-space), Colors (c-changeable, w-white, F-fixed), and seconds for something special.” Download Here
My Video Schedule, $11.99 per download
Specs from the developer: A scheduling app made especially for kids and adults with special needs, such as autism. The app includes photo and video modeling as well as rewards for scheduled activities and behaviors. The library of photos and videos includes items such as brushing teeth, eating breakfast, getting on a school bus, going to the grocery store, and more. Parents or teachers can also add their own videos. For kids who respond well to visual cues and rewards, My Video Schedule could be an invaluable tool to help reinforce structure and necessary tasks in their daily life.
The great thing I can see on the outset for this app is you can customize it on your travels to include videos or photos and rewards. So say you are touring and your child really wants to go on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Well you can customize the photo of Big Thunder Mountain to appear when the time is up along with the customized reward for their patience! The major drawback is the price point, yowza. But if it works, I’m willing to spend roughly $12 if it saves us from a meltdown. Download Here
So there are five to get you started! Have one you know works that you would recommend? Let us know in the comments below!