Autism Warning: Timers Don't Always Work

by Penny Woodin Rogers


When I was new to the autism parenting world, I read many articles and blog posts. Time and time again people would say how timers and visual timers saved the day. Timers help children on the autism spectrum with transitions, they said. So I tried it.


Eager to smooth transitions and cut down on meltdowns, I started setting the microwave timer. “You have 15 minutes to pick up your toys,” I would say. Or, “There are ten minutes until the bus comes. Time to get ready.” And the meltdown happened anyway. My young child spent most of the fifteen minutes on the floor crying and exclaiming, still overwhelmed.


Huh? Where was the supposed magic? What about the happy child, moving forward with a task? I was stumped.


One day, God reached down in His mercy and gave me a thought. “Folks with autism like control. It helps them feel better. Put him in control of the timer.”


What a brilliant idea! I was so hopeful.


I pulled the kitchen stool over in front of the microwave. I taught my son how to set a timer. I showed him the button to push to start it. And I let him set the time and start the timer.


Guess what? It worked! The simple tweak of putting my son in control of the timer took away the overwhelm of the timer. He would set the timer and get to work.


(Now, it wasn’t all rainbows and roses. If I gave him a task that was too large, he’d still freeze up. But at least we found a way to use a timer successfully most of the time. Just chalk it up to one more thing I learned as an autism parent.)


So, taking this concept of giving our kids with autism control to ease some of their anxiety, what else could we do? Here are some more ideas:


  • Struggling to get multiple tasks done? Let your child choose which one to do first.
  • Often choices are too overwhelming for our children on the autism spectrum. Offer two or three acceptable choices, then let your child decide. This eases overwhelm and also allows control. For example, “Do you want to wear your soft sweatshirt or your Minecraft hoodie today?”
  • Is your child having a rough day? Ask him if he would like to participate in an activity or take a break. Then respect his decision.
  • Invite your daughter to choose a meal for dinner and help cook it.
  •  Present a few games for family fun time and let your child decide which one to play.


Next time your child continues to have meltdowns after you’ve tried to help, stop and think. Is there a way you can let your child have more control over the situation? Though not foolproof (Is anything in the autism world?), this strategy can help minimize the meltdown frequency. If you’d like more practical tips you can put to use right away, grab your free copy of Superhero’s Guide to Special Needs Parenting: Quick Tips to Help You and Your Child Soar.


Used by Permission: Originally published at


Penny, has two children, Logan who has autism and Madison who is pursuing a dance career. Based on her own personal and often difficult experiences with autism, she hopes to educate families of children with autism on how to navigate their world from pre diagnosis to adulthood.





Please Don't Ask About My Child

By Carol Barnier


You run into an old friend at your homeschool support group you haven’t seen in quite some time. You do a bit of catch-up, the chit chat goes on for a while, and then, here it comes—the question you’ve been dreading—“So, how’s that daughter [or son] of yours doing?”


Paste on that smile. Take in a quick breath, but inside, die . . . just a bit.


Of course, you know precisely which child she’s talking about—the one who surprised you all by turning her back on God, then the family, then doing a 180 from all that you value, finally stepping solidly into the world and away from faith. Yeah. That kid.

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Learning Styles Simplified for the Homeschool Mom

by Kay


Biology taught me how much learning styles can effect a student’s ability to memorize vocabulary. Not because I was studying biology, though. Because my son was.


My oldest son took Biology through a co-op class during his freshman year of high school. For the tests they were required to know at least twenty vocabulary definitions per unit, so I told him to study the words and I would quiz him. Unfortunately, when I quizzed him he didn’t remember very many. It was as if he hadn’t even seen the words before.


So we tried something else. This time I said the definition to him and he would repeat it back to me, back and forth, until he had them down. Why couldn’t he just read the definitions over and over instead of sayingthem over and over to learn them? My friend’s son was in the same class and could study the book, memorize the words quickly, and be ready for the test without saying them aloud. Why the difference?


Perhaps one of the biggest factors, besides interest in the subject, was a matter of learning styles. You see, my son is primarily an auditory learner. From the time he was a toddler he loved listening to audio books and wanted me to read aloud to him. Even as a college student today, he tends to forget to take notes in class because it distracts him from listening to the lecture.


There are many excellent books and resources on this topic (for example, The Way They Learn [affiliate link]by Cynthia Tobias) If you look up learning styles on the Internet, you’ll soon find there are multiple labels and theories about them. But my goal in this post is to give you a simple overview so you can consider what your own children’s learning styles are, and to help you in choosing resources and curriculum to meet their needs.

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Stop Overextendng Yourself: 9 Effective Tips

by Ashley Drake


There are times when we find ourselves taking on more than we can handle, whether it’s projects at work, chores at home, activities with the family, or arrangements with other people. Soon, we experience the signs and effects of spreading ourselves thin: sleep deprived, eating on the go, getting anxious about time, and generally feeling frazzled.


If this sounds familiar to you, pause for a moment. Consider what acclaimed playwright Raymond Hull once said: “He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away.”


Before any whittling away happens, take a step back and try these nine effective ways to stop overextending yourself.


Acknowledge The Problem

There’s a normal level of busy, then there’s a frantic, more-than-you-can-chew busy. When you start to feel like you’ve reached that latter point, don’t allow it to stay that way. An unhealthily hectic lifestyle is not something you should get used to, even if you believe you have to keep carrying so many responsibilities. Acknowledge that there is too much on your plate and that you need to make adjustments now.


Identify What Can Wait

The first step to adjusting your lifestyle is prioritizing, and this means setting aside the things that are not urgent. We sometimes see things as crucial even when they are not: extra-curricular activities, social calls, even the mere expectations of other people. When you examine your to-do list, you’ll likely find that many of the items there can wait.


Lifestyle author Rebecca A. Watson offers this three-step advice:


1.    Identify three things on your list that are important and have to be done the        soonest.

2.    Identify three things that are important but can be done after the previous          three.

3.    Look at the rest of your list; confirm that they are not as crucial and can            wait.

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Starting Back to School When You Feel Like a Homeschool Failure

by Melanie Young


Does thinking about the new school year make you feel kind of sick? Or sad? Are you putting off ordering curriculum because you really don’t want to face how behind you feel? Do you just dread the whole thing because you just haven’t done what you’d hoped you would last year?


Yep. Been there, done that.


We’ve homeschooled for over two decades. I’ve been that mom who was strutting with pride over my children and my homeschooling. I’ve also been that mom that hated to even think about homeschooling because it was so laden with sadness and guilt for me. How can that be?


Well, we’ve been through a lot. We had a newborn with a dangerous illness who spent weeks in ICU…and we wrote and marketed a book…and three children had surgery…and we found out Hal had cancer. All. In. One. Year. We were in survival mode permanently and honestly, school took a back seat.


So, what do you do when it’s time to get ready for the next year and you feel like a homeschool failure?


Remember that God’s curriculum for your child may different than your own. When I look back on those times when we were just surviving in homeschooling and everything possible went out the window, I realize that so much of what our kids learned weren’t part of my lesson plans. They learned how to respond to trials like a Christian, even the possibility of death. They learned how important family is in a crisis. They learned how to support, comfort, and care for people in need. They learned to be responsible for more than they dreamed they could. They learned what the Lord wanted them to learn.


Remember that our God is longsuffering. His mercies are “new every morning.” (Lamentations 2:22-23) There is forgiveness with him. (Psalm 130:40) “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” (1 John 1;9) If you haven’t been as faithful as you should have been to get school done, if you’ve been distracted by social media, or doctor visits, or goofing off, or illness–whether a little bit guilty or a lot, confess all that is on your heart to your Savior and just ask for forgiveness. His blood covers this, too, sweet friends! Whether your fault is little or much, forgiveness is there! Trust in Christ. Repent and accept His forgiveness because of what Jesus did on the cross.

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