Create a safe-word for your phone to help deal with an autistic shutdown

As someone who is both Autistic and ADHD, I understand how overwhelming sensory overloads can be. They can strike suddenly and leave us needing immediate relief or a reliable escape plan. That’s why I’ve created a personalised shortcut on my iPhone, triggered by the phrase “daydream,” to help manage these situations. I want to share this with you, hoping it’ll be as helpful to you as it has been for me.

How to setup your iPhone shortcut to help neurodovergent shutdowns

1. Opening the Shortcuts App Firstly, find and open the ‘Shortcuts’ app on your iPhone. It’s an incredibly versatile tool for automating tasks.

2. Creating a New Shortcut Tap the ‘+’ icon within the app to begin crafting your new shortcut.

3. Adding Actions Select ‘Add Action’ to piece together what your shortcut will do.

4. Setting Up a Trigger Phrase Choose ‘Voice’ to assign a phrase that activates your shortcut. I use “daydream” as my trigger (the first song that plays is Daydreaming by Radiohead).

5. Tailoring Actions to Your Needs Now, add actions that cater to your sensory preferences:

  • Play a Playlist: Choose a calming or familiar playlist to automatically play.
  • Activate Do Not Disturb: This minimises disruptions by silencing notifications.
  • Dim the Screen: Adjust the brightness to a more comfortable level.
  • Noise Cancellation on Headphones: If your headphones support it, set them to noise cancellation mode.

6. Testing Your Shortcut Test your shortcut by saying your trigger phrase to Siri. Ensure all actions are functioning as expected.

Additional Features for Your Shortcut

  • Automated Text Message: Send a pre-set message to someone you trust, informing them you need a moment.
  • Close All Running Apps: Reduce sensory input by closing any open apps.
  • Adjust Screen Settings: Change your display to a more soothing visual theme.
  • Smart Home Device Control: If you have smart home technology, set a specific lighting scene or adjust the temperature.
  • Open a Relaxation App: Launch an app that aids in relaxation or meditation automatically.

Personalising an iPhone shortcut in this way can significantly aid in managing sudden sensory overloads. The great thing is, you can tailor this Shortcut to your needs. I hope it will offer some relief to my fellow Neurodivergents.

Oh, Android user? There’s a way!

You can do something similar using Android phones, but it may take a little more tinkering. I’m not an Android user, so I asked ChatGPT to step in with a few workaround. Over to you, hive-mind:

Guide for Android Users to Create Sensory Management Routine

1. Using Google Assistant Routines

  • Access Google Assistant: Say “Hey Google” or hold the home button to activate Google Assistant.
  • Create a New Routine: Go to Assistant settings, select “Routines”, and tap on the ‘+’ to create a new routine.
  • Set Up a Trigger Phrase: Choose a phrase like “daydream” to initiate the routine.
  • Add Actions: Include actions such as playing music, changing phone settings (like Do Not Disturb, brightness), or sending messages.

2. Using Tasker (For Advanced Customization)

  • Download Tasker: Install Tasker from the Google Play Store. It’s a powerful automation app but requires a bit of a learning curve.
  • Create a New Profile: Set up a new profile with a context (like receiving a specific notification or a voice command).
  • Define Tasks: Assign tasks such as controlling music, adjusting settings, sending SMS, etc.

3. Using IFTTT for Additional Integration

  • Download IFTTT: Get the IFTTT app from the Google Play Store.
  • Create Applets: Combine different services (like your phone settings, smart home devices, and online services) to create comprehensive applets.
  • Use Voice Activation: Integrate with Google Assistant to trigger these applets with your voice.

Additional Features for Android:

  • Automated Messaging: Set up a task to send an SMS to a trusted contact.
  • Control Smart Devices: Integrate with smart home devices to adjust lighting or temperature.
  • Launch Specific Apps: Automatically open apps that aid in relaxation or meditation.
  • Custom Notifications: Create custom notifications to remind you to take breaks or perform calming activities.
This post was written by James Kindred

Oh, hey! I’m James Kindred - a graphic designer in Suffolk, UK, and I run Fork: a creative consultancy for start-ups and scaling brands. With over 25 years of experience, I work with start-up and scale-up brands to develop their identity, collateral and brand strategy.

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