Visual Timer

A visual that provides students with the time remaining before a transition.

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Clear visual cue

Clear visual cue

An easy to see countdown for an activity or transition.

vissched-burkburnett 5-12-13-15 stacey jones 25 cropped
Regulate reinforcers or breaks

Regulate reinforcers or breaks

Limit time spent with reinforcers or on breaks.

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Self-management tool

Self-management tool

Use timers as a prompt to perform a target behavior.

When to use:

  • Showing the amount of time left before a transition

Tip: Keep the timer placed where the student can see, so that they can keep track of how much time is left. For some students you may need to place the timer where they can see it, but cannot reach it.

How to use:

  1. Show the student the timer. Set the timer for the desired amount of time and explain this to the student. Tell the student what will happen when the time is up.
  2. Occasionally, remind the student how much time is left and what will happen when time is up. This may sound like, “Five minutes until art is over, then we will clean up.” It may be important to provide your student more frequent warnings when there is less time left.
  3. When the time is up, say to the student, “Art is finished. It’s time to clean up.” Give the student a moment to process and/or show them a visual to support the completion of the activity.


  • Silent timers that use lights or vibrations to signal time are an alternative for students sensitive to noise or with hearing impairments.
  • Allow the student to help you set the timer to begin supporting independence when setting and using timers.


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