Our take: The news often highlights the hazards associated with the digital age from eroding communication skills to gaming addictions. The American Psychiatric Association even added "Internet Use Disorder" to its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders recently. But, new technologies also provide amazing opportunities. In this article from the L.A. Times, a mother discusses how technology allowed her to communicate with her disabled daughter for the first time.
It occurred to me the other day that it is becoming less and less necessary to speak. Why talk when you can text, tweet or email? Why pick up the telephone when Facebook brings you up to date with every detail of your friends' lives? It feels like the human voice is becoming irrelevant, and I'm thrilled about it. You see, I have a daughter who can't speak.
When Eva, who is now in her late 20s, was 6 months old, we received the official diagnosis of cerebral palsy. It wasn't a surprise. Her birth had become suddenly difficult, then dangerous a rapidly falling heartbeat, a baby in severe distress, an emergency Cesarean. After watching over her anxiously for the three weeks she spent in the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, we were told to take our daughter home and "see how she develops." We'd know soon enough what damage the lack of oxygen had wrought.
During those early, desperate months, my mind was preoccupied with disastrous scenarios. Would she ever sit up? Yes, it turned out. Would she walk, dress herself, eat by herself? No, none of those things, we realized as she grew.
It took me awhile to realize that I had left off my list of questions the most profound one: Would my beautiful baby ever be able to talk? It was impossible to imagine what kind of life she would have if she couldn't. To me, no speech meant no communication. No communication meant no human connection. No human connection meant a life without joy. But I was wrong.