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Parents of Children With Disabilities Get Help From Technology

Amy Williams, Contributing Editor

The moment you hear you are going to be a parent is a life changing moment. The anticipation and birth of a child is a celebration. A time filled with great joy. BUT sometimes life throws in an extra chromosome or an impairment that catches us off guard. Like all children, our babies with special needs are still cherished and present unique challenges for a new parent.

Dealing with an infant who is born with a disability might be overwhelming in the beginning, but with a little love and guidance it is possible to enjoy this childhood stage. Thankfully, in the last couple of decades, modern technology has advanced and allowed a myriad of opportunities for parental empowerment when it comes to raising a child with disabilities.

Empowered Parenting With Technology

The glow of the screens, fast paced games, and easy finger swiping actions make technology a fun toy. However, in the hands of a skilled parent, technology can be used for a variety of ways to improve our child’s quality of life.

Listed below are six ways we can use technology to make the best of our child’s disability:

To know that you are not alone. Social media has connected us in ways that were once unimaginable. Not too long ago, families with kids who had disabilities might have felt isolated and alone. Today, it’s possible to form friendships with parents around the world that are experiencing similar situations to develop valuable support systems.

Technology allows children to communicate easier with parents and caregivers. Some children with disabilities often experience delayed speech or communication skills. Today’s technology’s portability and ease of use can open a world of language to families. Today, we can access countless apps and programs to aid a variety of disabilities communicate needs and wants effectively.

New advances in monitoring devices help us stay on top of our child’s health. Parents of children with disabilities can rest a little easier when it comes to a child’s physical well-being. From keeping tabs on a child’s blood sugar levels or monitoring seizures, technology can easily alert parents to a problem before there are visible symptoms. For newborns, you can buy monitors that measure respiratory rhythms or allow you to view your child on your Smartphone.

The Internet and social media is raising awareness about children with special needs. One of the unsung benefits to a wired and social media driven world is the access to our diverse world. Our sons and daughters can access books, media, and resources featuring children they can relate to on a personal level. This connectivity is banishing stereotypes and celebrating people from all walks of life- even those who have a disability.

Parents have information at their fingertips to research and understand a child’s condition. We no longer live in the dark ages where we had to rely only on our local family doctor to keep our family well. Today, we can access new research, therapies, and devices to benefit our child’s quality of life.

Technology allows young children to engage in “creative play, mastery learning, problem solving, and conversation” where they control the speed and interaction. While most experts don’t recommend using screens to entertain infants and toddlers, they do acknowledge there are educational benefits when used correctly. Almost all kids, even children with disabilities, find computers compelling and interesting. This allows our children to experiment and repeat the process as needed. It can also help fine tune a child’s abilities while providing parents with an opportunity to see into a child’s world and inner workings. Technology is a great tool in a parent’s arsenal to assess a child’s development while encouraging diversity and creativity.

Looking Forward

A new baby is a joyous occasion, but the realization that our child will have disabilities can be devastating. While it’s natural to grieve the loss of a childhood full of unlimited potential, it’s important to consider how technology can be used to overcome this adversity. Today, children with disabilities are able to enjoy beautiful, purposeful, and satisfying lives.

We need to challenge ourselves to look for the blessings in our child’s life and look beyond their diagnosis. How do you use technology for to empower your family or child?

Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like the challenges of parenting children with special needs.