Research on use of visual schedules and checklists has been found to improve independence in completing work tasks and self-care skills for individuals with autism and cognitive disabilities (Koyama, Wang 2011). Use of visual schedules on PDA have also shown significant benefits to individuals with autism. Identifying appropriate visual schedule apps and the appropriate device require evaluation of the specific needs of the user, supports and environment. Numerous visual schedule apps are available for mobile devices, each requiring match of the app features, user skills, task, environment and available and/or appropriate device for the tasks being completed.
A wide variety of apps including many visual schedule apps currently exist for both iOS and Android devices. Despite having trialed and recommended visual apps for clients, a recent evaluation required additional options for a visual schedule/visual checklist apps. This client who has been using a paper copy checklist but also benefited from text and images. At appeared that identifying a basic checklist app with images, text and audio recording capabilities would be best and slightly different from previously used app for other clients with an intellectual disability. The iOS native Notes app was trialed using the checklist/radio button options with images imported, however use of Speak Selection seemed to be a bit tedious to employ. Audio recording options within the checklist was also desired, but not available in the Notes app. Although many other choices of schedule apps exist, a visual checklist appeared to be a best a best option for the client.
Results of my search for a basic checklist style of visual schedule found Reminder, Alarm and Voice Reminders, Remind Me App developed by Sergio Licea. As the developer of Aida Reminder app, previously successfully used with a different client, I was somewhat familiar with the features of the Reminder app and comfortable with a developer who has continually updated his developed apps. Presented with many visuals and also methods of output, this app for $1.99 as an in-app purchase (for no ads) and no subscription fee or login, was a strong choice for trial.
Trial of the free version found this app matching a majority of the features needed for this client and task. Here are the main reasons and features for the app choice:
- The app has recently been updated by the developer allowing it to work on the most current iOS operating systems.
- The app will work on iPhone and iPad, depending on the best device for ease of use of the client and environment.
- The app is easy to use and features rich for the needs of an individual with an intellectual impairment.
- The app also manages customized images, text, audio and symbols.
- Its layout is easy to view in a linear manner.
- It has check boxes, just like a standard paper check off list
- Alarms, notifications, repeated or reoccurring alarms by time, day, week can be set.
Here are some images showing the features of the Reminder, Alarm and Voice Reminders, Remind Me App :
The checklist can be viewed individually or from a calendar view during use. Reminders can be turned off temporarily from an editing screen as seen in the bottom image. Editing options allow images and audio to be saved for reuse. A basic symbol library is also available within the apps image library providing a fast method of set up of picture tasks. Using a mobile device with a camera however provides an easy method of customization of the pictured tasks for the user.
One limitation is the app can not be created or editing via cloud based service. It can be backed up by email however, to manage the content if the device malfunctions.
I found this app to meet the needs of the client evaluated. As aforementioned, I believe this app is quite easy to use, however will take some set up time for a job coach, teacher, therapist or parent to develop the scheduled tasks with images, pictures and audio. Once set up however, it should be pretty easy to apply to a work situation with a fairly consistent task routine.
I will be adding this to my OT mToolkit, feature match and apps lists (hopefully soon). What are your favorite visual schedule apps?
More for your OT mToolkit!
Koyama, Takanori, and Hui-Ting Wang. “Use of Activity Schedule to Promote Independent Performance of Individuals with Autism and Other Intellectual Disabilities: A Review.” Research in Developmental Disabilities 32.6 (2011): 2235-242. Web.
Rani, Nurdalilah Mohd, Rafeah Legino, and Muhamad Fairus Kamaruzaman. “A Theoretical Study on the Influence of Visual Schedule towards Children with Autism Independent Life and Its Chances through Mobile Technology.” Recent Advances in Education and Educational Technology (n.d.): n. pag. Recent Advances in Education and Educational Technology. Web. 19 Mar. 2017. <http://www.wseas.us/e-library/conferences/2015/Malaysia/EDU/EDU-16.pdf>.