We work primarily with children who have disabilities. Some say it is a noble calling and we appreciate this designation. We certainly put our hearts and souls into it. It is a labor of love for us, because our daughter, Mary, is autistic and only communicates through the use of technology. Communication devices are important in entirely new and different ways and we want to apply for grants to get them funded. The technological revolution has given us new ways of life and has helped people like Mary in innumerable unforeseen ways.
Not all devices are high tech and super sophisticated. Some are, some are simple, depending upon their function. Take Mary’s white noise machine. Nothing could be more basic, but nothing could be more profound in effect to help her fall and stay sleep. A white noise machine emits sounds that create a background effect that blocks out other noises that might be intrusive. Many people enjoy them to help them fall asleep. Some machines have different settings so you can have the sound of crashing waves at the beach, the effects of wind whirling through the sky, or a waterfall. Water is very popular. It is kind of like counting sheep, something innocuous and boring that blanks out thoughts from entering the mind that would interfere with the ability to enter slumberland. Many people find it very hard to fall asleep and the same goes for kids. Children, like adults, are prone to alien thoughts at bedtime. It is the time when you are left to your own mental devices so to speak, and what you sometimes can’t turn off is the mind—all the thoughts of the day, the worries, preoccupations, and the like.
Getting back to humble forms of technology, one night Mary’s white noise machine broke down. I am not sure if it was the connection or the plug or the machine was worn out. We tried all the settings to no avail. She was upset and we were pretty worried as you can imagine. Even one disturbance in her routine would be detrimental to her well-being. We dread when this happens. It breaks her sense of security in effect. She isn’t equipped to think of other resources. We pondered the dilemma and considered running out to buy a new white noise machine, but the stores weren’t open. We did, however, come up with an alternative. We knew that where there is a will, there is a way. We had to be creative. We found a cooling fan that sits idly on the floor in the attic. I am not sure what made us think of it. We hadn’t used it in years. We rushed it down to her room, plugged it in, and voila! It made a whirring, humming sound that one might loosely call white noise. The fan thus came to the rescue on what could have been a troublesome night. Frankly, a cooling fan is in effect a white noise machine of a kind that also does double duty to lower the room temperature. Thank goodness we had one.