Telling the Time

has anybody managed to teach an adult with learning difficulties to tell the time?

As most of you know my daughter is now in her late 30’s and has LD and is on the autistic spectrum. Her schools and college never managed to teach her and I couldn’t either. It is still causing big problems because she catches buses independently but has no idea what time it is and what time she has to get to the bus stop.

She can read on her phone what the time is, say, 10. 30 but she has no idea that if the bus comes at 11.45 how long she has to wait. She spends hours hanging around for buses!

I won’t be here forever and if she ever gets a little job she will need to know the time for getting to work and what time to leave etc. she also needs to know for GP appointments etc.

We have muddled through but I would love to get her telling the time before I pop my clogs!!

I have just been googling but really didn’t find much although people say that teaching the digital time to adults is best.

I don’t know how, but M has learned to tell the time. We started with old fashioned clock faces (we have an old chiming clock in the lounge) and he seemed to grasp that fairly well.
So he can tell me what time it is, but would be unable to tell me how long he had to wait etc.
I think priorities are morning tea, lunchtime, etc!

I love a challenge like this, Penny. Its the teacher in me. I’ll get back to you with suggestions.


People with Learning Disabilities or with autism often live in the now, with little concept of past and future, or of time passing.

Mike, my son, learnt to tell the time by the age of eight, but struggled with the concept of time passing and even now we have the problem that if he is supposed to be somewhere for an appointment, he thinks in terms of leaving home at that time. It’s become a bit of a problem for his staff lately, and we’re trying to come up with ideas…if we manage anything I’ll keep you posted!

You could try a non traditional clock.

Could some sort of routine system help if she is into routines?
for example:-
1115 - get ready for bus
1130 - go to bus stop
1145 bus
1200 no bus - it is late or cancelled
1210 no bus - go home

An alarm in the phone set for
1115 get ready to leave
1130 (or whenever) Leave for bus - this means coat and bag and leave

My phone in the clock section has the facility to set alarms with a note for what they are for.
I have alarms set for various things/reminders.

There used to be meetings or socials with the invitations 0930 for 1000 hrs or 1900 for 1930 hrs
Can you use such a concept to form a habit or routine?

thanks Breezey. She is a creature of impulse to be honest and she has a bus pass so just hops on a bus when she sees one. She lives in a small town and there is usually a bus going somewhere and thankfully never too far. She doesn’t have to be anywhere on a particular day at a certain time.

Fabulous freedom!
Unless or until you need to be on a certain bus!

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I think Penny, she needs a formula - it won’t equate to her understanding the why of it, but it will be a crude method of her getting somewhere on time.

How long does it take her to get ready on an average day and a not so good day? Also how long does it take her to get to the bus stop?


You could keep a list of bus times for example.