Liquid Timers

The Hughes Brothers admit that our thinking about this product may be clouded by the fact that three of us fell asleep watching the LT perform, and the other four forgot their state capitals. Such is the lulling, completely lulling nature of this visual engagement. Here’s a device just perfect for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, although we’ve encountered so many other folks who have made good use of the Liquid Timer in all sorts of applications: in classrooms, with church groups and other social gatherings, and on family outings.

The timer is simplicity itself, made of thick acrylic plastic in a display shaped like an hourglass, only to be turned upside down for the colors to begin again. Two rows of soft circles in assorted colors float down to the bottom, but also with complementary colors that fall at a somewhat more accelerated pace – about a minute after the get-go. The timer could not be more visually oriented, and we all know that kids with ASD relate well to pictures and pretty objects.

We must tell you that the actual time to be measured here lies a bit beyond nebulous. Dave Hughes insists that the fall-time to completion requires thirty minutes. Chris Hughes, the youngest of our brothers, insists that time is relative, and so, while we love him, Chris has been kicked out of this review.

To our knowledge almost all children with autism gravitate toward the floating colors, some mesmerized for a half-hour and more, others taking somewhat less interest but calmed and quieted thereby nonetheless. Some kids enjoy actually holding the timer as the show unfolds. And we’ve encountered countless comments from family members – moms, dads, siblings – who find in the Liquid Timer a respite, an enjoyable time apart from the daily grind. Some brothers and sisters take the LT to school, to be used as a means of concentration, as a soothe to a fidgety second-grader.

Now, the Cascade S Timer Review

The principal structural, and therefore sensory, difference between the Light Timer comes in the Cascade S’s display: small colored balls gently glide down a winding slope. And then appears a second row of winding balls, all conspiring to produce a magical visual sensation. A gentle S configuration speaks of calmness, relaxation, and escape from a child’s emotional overload.

As with the Liquid Timer, a quick inversion repeats the Technicolor process. Because the entire top-to-bottom float, the staggered plane of it all, happens in about three minutes, the Cascade S should work well when only a brief time-out, a short withdrawal from the day and the hour seems needed. Like the LT, the Cascade arrives in the smallest of packages (5”x3”), ready to slide unobtrusively into a purse or a backpack, ready for a welcome distraction for children with autism on those occasions when the heeby-jeebs trouble your little one.

A caveat: please don’t expose the Cascade S to extreme temperatures high or low, and do not allow its exposure to direct sunlight. In these cases, the colored drops do fade. Also, we’re not sure why, but the manufacturer recommends the Cascade’s use only for teenagers, fourteen and on up.

That said, we encountered a report of a little seven-year-old guy with sensory modulation disorder, and he just loved to zone on out and watch those balls move down, on down that comforting, the soothing S-curve at the heart of this near-miraculous device. Further, the Hughes Brothers know of instances when a little one becomes just overwhelmed, angry at the world, and then the Cascade S immediately stops the crying and screaming.

All nice and quiet now. Nice. And quiet.