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Concept of Time

Help! My child does not understand the concept of time!

“My child can read a clock, so why is he always late?”

Being able to read a digital clock is a basic skill that requires little more than the ability to read numbers. To truly understand time, you have to dig deeper. We hear these examples from parents all the time. They tell their children “We’re leaving in 5 minutes” but their child is never ready, “You have to start on your homework in 1 hour”, but the child never starts. Even though they can read the clock, the child does not understand how long 1 minute, 5 minutes, or an hour actually is. Your child may have time blindness.

Time blindness refers to a condition where an individual has difficulty perceiving the passing of time accurately. People experiencing time blindness might struggle to estimate how much time has elapsed or how long it will take to complete a task. This concept is often associated with certain conditions like ADHD and autism spectrum disorders, although it can affect individuals without these conditions as well.

Time blindness can manifest as a challenge in gauging the passing of time, leading to issues with punctuality, time management, and planning. People affected by time blindness may underestimate or overestimate how long tasks or activities will take, leading to difficulties in organizing their schedules and meeting deadlines. 

Strategies like using timers, alarms, schedules, and visual cues are often recommended to help individuals manage time blindness more effectively. These tools can assist in creating a structured environment and aiding in time perception and task management. Additionally, understanding time is a skill that can be mastered with practice and direct instruction.  


  • Use visual timers like the one below to show the passage of time.
  • Set timers for various activities so your child can feel how long 5 minutes actually is.
    • “We are going to set the timer and brush our teeth for 2 minutes.”
    • “I am setting the timer for 30 minutes. In 30 minutes we will eat dinner.”
    • “We need to leave for school in 10 minutes. I have set the timer.”
  • A checklist is great, but we need to take it a step further. Have your child visualize what it will look like completing the items on the checklist from start to finish.  
  • Make sure you are not over-supporting and over-prompting. Model your own self-talk when it comes to your daily routine. Kids with time blindness are not great planners. They need to hear and see how we manage everyday life.
    • “I have a lot to do today. I need to put a load of laundry in before I go to the grocery store. When I come back, I can put it in the dryer. I will start dinner after I pick you up from school. Let me take a minute and write this down”

Do you need help teaching these skills and integrating these skills into your child’s routine? New Agenda is here to help. Click here to get started!

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