Our first experience with modern technology was our oldest son’s first computer. He had profound disabilities. His world opened up with that first computer. It was the tool that gave him his voice. He was able to let us know his wants and needs for the first time. Every few months brought better and better technological upgrades.
Over the years, we’ve seen devices changing and creating possibilities. We went from landline phones to mobile phones that are far more advanced than first-generation word processors.
Our family has many devices in our home that we use for communication. Between the three of us, we own three computers, three iPhones and an iPad. With all this technology you might think the level of communication in our household would be stellar, but it is not. As technology has progressed, our ability to communicate effectively seems to have diminished.
Instead of talking face-to-face, we seem to rely more on gadgets to share thoughts and feelings. Texting has its place, but it isn’t the best way to communicate. So much meaning can be lost when we aren’t communicating face-to-face. I read somewhere that words account for only about 10% of our communication, so that means we are missing 90% of what needs to be communicated.
Before cell phones, our family spent time sharing meals and talking. Dinner table talk started with “three good things about today.” It gave us a glimpse into each other’s lives. Most of the time we talked about simple things.
We went out and spent time shooting baskets. We had a family game night. We knew each other well. Things are different now. Rather than walking into the next room to ask a question, we are more likely to send a text. “Where are you,” “come here,” and “dinner’s ready.” Our house isn’t even that big! Everyone in the family texts.
Our youngest son, who has autism, seems to be losing his hard-earned communication skills. Texting allows him to stay in touch at some level, but it’s getting harder for him to have a conversation, at least with us. He answers “yes” and “no” questions but seems out of practice with give-and-take conversations. There is work to be done.
As technology continues to advance, it brings both exciting possibilities and inevitable challenges. We’ll proceed with caution and encourage our younger generation to put aside their devices from time to time.
Despite the challenges, technology can make it easier to find community and connect with other parents.
Over the years, parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs have told us many stories about dealing with bias, unfairness, racism, ableism or discrimination against their child.
Categories: Family Support
As the parent of a child with mild Cerebral Palsy, I learned that the word “hurry” doesn’t apply to my son, Jason. With motor planning difficulties, hurrying just wasn’t something he could do. I learned to adapt and accommodate our schedule to allow extra time. However, when I found myself in the situation of caring for elderly parents & parents-in-law, and our son, I struggled to find the patience I once had with Jason.
Categories: Family Support