Thursday, December 24, 2015

Book chapter excerpt: Smartphone calendaring and special needs

For the book. Comments welcome …

Calendar management is one of the most powerful smartphone tools for independent living. Knowing what to do when takes a lot of memory stress away. The Calendar is where healthy and helpful habits are maintained. It can be very hard for spectrum Explorers to initiate new work, scheduling it on a calendar can be a good launch step. Special Hockey games, doctor’s appointments, work schedules, study schedules, screen break times, family outings, dates, holidays — it all starts with the Calendar.

That was true in the days of the family wall calendar, but the smartphone Calendar is a big improvement. It’s always at hand, appointments have reminders, and, best of all, it’s easy for one or more Guides to manage an Explorer’s Calendar.

Calendars are powerful but relatively easy to use. Every Explorer able to read at a 3rd grade level will be able to use a smartphone Calendar app. The key is to practice and reward Calendar use. The “Guide’s Toolbox” chapter described a general approach, with the Calendar there are some simple specific techniques. One is to respond to most “when” questions by asking your Explorer to access and review their smartphone Calendar.  Another is to reward routine daily review of the current and next day’s Calendar. Some Explorers may be stressed by the imposed structure of formal Calendar, in this case you will need the usual mixture of patience, reward, pressure, support, persistence, strategic retreat, reframing, empowering and more persistence. Just like everything else that’s new and important.

Of course this assumes that you are also using a Calendar effectively! Actions and examples always mean more than words alone. You’ll want to be comfortable with your own Calendar use before you introduce Calendaring to your Explorer.


Apple and Google take similar approaches to Calendaring, but there are some important unique advantages for each one. 

Both Google and Apple have Calendar apps that work well with your smartphone. Both allow a Guide to remotely manage and review the Calendar from a web browser, including adding new items remotely. Both Google and Apple support invitations to Events, Event locations with integrated maps, and calendar overlays. Calendar overlays are pretty useful, they let users see several people’s color-coded events in a single integrated calendar. 

On the smartphone both Google and Apple are building “intelligent agents”, like Siri and Google Now, that use Calendar information to create reminders and suggestions.

Apple’s Calendar solutions have an advantage of simplicity — as long as you stick strictly to “iCloud” and don’t try to subscribe to any “Calendar feeds”. In my experience few people use Calendar Feeds, so as much as I personally love them this may not be a great problem. Apple’s Calendar solutions also work well even when an iPhone doesn’t have data services.

Google’s Calendar solutions are more powerful and far better at working with Calendar Feeds, not least because many schools, businesses and organizations use Google Calendars…

See also: Autism and interest depletion - leveraging routines, calendars and checklists.

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