Sunday, September 06, 2009

Special needs: Mobile communications and surveillance

Posting has been light over the summer. It's been a great summer for us, with all of our children, diverse and neurotypical alike, making progress on different curves.

Now things will pick up again. Our Aspie dude is more assertive about doing his own thing, which means we have to work harder to get him the things he needs but doesn't want. Our complicated guy is entering junior high, which means we have a lot less control and awareness of what's going on.

There's guaranteed turbulence ahead, which should make for more posts.

In the meantime, I've been moving forward on the mobile/messaging strategy I outlined a few months ago ...

... We are starting out with a minimal cost phone and a simple pay-as-you-go T-Mobile plan. When the money is spent the phone stops working until we 'refuel'. For now we share a single number and phone, though if Google Voice ever goes live each child will get a lifelong GV number....
Recent events showed that we made the right call on the cell phone. When our eldest ran off into a crowd of 300,000 people or so a combination of his exceptional navigation skills and the "child phone" meant we didn't need to fuss with police searches.

Now, since Google Voice has opened up, I've also gotten him a Google Voice number and email through our Google Apps family domain. Both of these are under our control -- so his voice mails get routed to both parents as do all his incoming email. I also have the ability to track his outgoing emails. He won't have access to the Google Voice or Google email credentials until he's older. The Google Voice number will be his for life.

My next question will be whether to stay with current T-mobile phone or move him to a smart phone (Android or iPhone). It would be very helpful to be able to track his movements by his phone. We can be do that through AT&T's tracking service (designed to track children) on any phone (if we move him to AT&T), through Latitude on an Android phone or Blackberry, and through MobileMe on an iPhone.

Yes, he'll be entering his teen years under close surveillance, though I'm expecting he won't know of it. This guy gives new meaning to the world 'vulnerable'. Over time I hope we all succeed enough that he migrates from surveillance to on-demand-assistance using the same infrastructure.

No comments: