Timelapse Photography as a Hobby for Those with Autism

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Although individuals with autism often have hobbies typical for their age group, they can also be drawn to more procedural, ‘making’ type activities. Time-lapse photography can serve these types of interests either as an augment or as a core activity. If you are looking for hobbies for yourself or someone else, here are some ideas that time-lapse could enhance.

Legos with time-lapse

Legos are a common interest for those with autism. The building elements and step-by-step instructions allow for the progressive development of a more grandiose product. This progress can be beautifully shown through time-lapse and can be enjoyed long after the particular set has been taken down. Not only will a time-lapse photo capture the final product, but also the journey to get there.

Making with time-lapse

Many individuals with autism are quite good at dissembling and/or building contraptions or other objects ranging from simple electronics to smaller engines. This may lead to the creation of new devices with varying capabilities such as prototypes that may work at lifting or moving and can serve as a learning or teaching tool. Time-lapse particularly serves this as it will give the opportunity to not only show the progress of a project, but it can also document the steps one has taken to disassemble an item or build one. This would not only provide a beautiful example of the tasks achieved but also provide an archive of the steps – or instructions – for future work or replication.
Jigsaw puzzle

Puzzle-solving with time-lapse

Another popular hobby among those with autism is puzzle-solving. This includes, most obviously, jigsaws, but could be any type of puzzle. It is a popular hobby common among non-verbal autistics, as well, and can be enjoyed in solo or group settings. Just as time-lapse will serve building legos and other contraptions, it will also show the steps and progress made on a puzzle in a much-accelerated timeframe. This will serve to document the work and accomplishment of the puzzle completion, long after the puzzle has been dismantled once more.

Raising and caring for animals with time-lapse

Not every individual in the spectrum loves animals, but for those that do have an affection are usually passionate. If caring for an infant or young, the hobby could be enhanced by captures that show the growth of the animal at an accelerated rate. This may come with some logistic hurdles, however, as posing the pet could be difficult, so this would serve some more easily photographed animals such as turtles or reptiles.

“…the time-lapse documenting the progress will be enriching and confidence-building”

Botany or growing indoor plants and time-lapse

A good amount of research suggests that plant cultivation is a fulfilling hobby for those with autism. Tending to a garden gives the opportunity to impart nurturing skills along with the satisfaction of visible results. These results – the growing of the plant – lend themselves well to the use of time-lapse photography. Not only will an indoor plant or garden offer the individual to explore their interests in the selection of the plants themselves, the resulting adult plant and the time-lapse documenting the progress will be enriching and confidence-building.
Person hiking in countryside

Hiking or camping as an opportunity for time-lapse

Individuals with autism may have high energy, and many enjoy the outdoors. Hiking or camping is an opportunity for a person to explore the outside world while getting exercise. These outdoor experiences provide an excellent opportunity to capture a time-lapse sequence. Whether it’s a couple hour excursion or a several night camping trip, a location can be actively sought, and once found, a time-lapse can show the changing clouds, light, or other features of the outdoors, including star cover at night for night sky time-lapse photography.

Drawing and painting revealed with time-lapse

Drawing and painting are also pastimes autistic individuals frequently enjoy. If coupled with time-lapse, the entire process can be accelerated to showcase the labor of the art. Each stroke and step will progress quickly in the resulting video, giving way to the final product with all of the splendor of the labor that created it.

Sculpture and time-lapse

Similar to these other examples, sculpture – with clay or any medium really – can be a hobby which is enhanced by the shooting of time-lapse. The sculpture will seem to build from nothing, with each step of the process visible throughout the time-lapse. This could also apply to things like carving and whittling. Again, you will see your or your loved one’s work in all of its glory compose itself before your eyes in the final time-lapse video.
Compact Camera

Photography and time-lapse

Photography and time-lapse can be a hobby in itself. Starting with developing a mastery of photography, anyone with an interest can capture it with their camera. An enthusiast or professional camera really is where you should be starting. Enthusiast cameras are usually fully featured, bodies with a metal skeleton are a good place to start and better models will even include weather-sealing. If you decide on a professional camera, they will all be built well. These cameras will have removable lenses and will work with remote shutters and intervalometers (if they are not included in the firmware), allowing the user to capture what they want in the way they want to capture it.

“The ability to shoot time-lapse will enrich any other activity that involves the progressive building or production of a piece of art”

Eventually, as an individual masters still photography and settles on a subject, they might advance further to produces time-lapses – perhaps, but not necessarily related to other hobbies. The ability to shoot time-lapse will enrich any other activity that involves the progressive building or production of a piece of art, or the growth of something. It can also be used to witness natural phenomena at accelerated rates. The hobby will encourage not only a mastery of still photography but also will lend itself to learning a whole host of creative programs in order to develop the final product. Those that are autistic are typically pretty intuitive on computer programs, and will likely be able to learn the programs associated with digital negative development and the composition of the final time-lapse. So one hobby can provide the individual with many skills.

Beginning your time-lapse journey

If you would like to learn more about time-lapse or you know someone else who might, a great starting point is our beginner’s guide to time-lapse where we introduce the basic concepts and give you the tools you’ll need to take it further.

Some other resources

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3 Responses

  1. Roxanne Fisher

    I found this article very thought provoking and eye opening. Im always glad to see new tools in treating such disorders like autism in unconventional and new ways. The article was greatly informative and has encouraged me to look into the subject further and hope treatments such as this keep being brought to my brought to my attention. Very interesting.

  2. Kelly Bundy

    As a mother of a son suffering from autism, i found this article to be a fantastic guide for parents, heathcare professionals, supporters or those dealing with this disorder themselves. This gives me new hope in improving the quality of my sons life.

    • I am very pleased this article was valuable to you. I would be very interested to hear any updates! Timelapse is an interesting hobby in itself and can provide a great enhancement to other hobbies as well. I would be fascinated to hear back. Thank you.

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