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My View: Smartphones make these lives better

By Vickie Rubin

FaceTime: What a great name – and all we needed to be able to communicate with our daughter when we are not face to face.

I was born in 1957, my husband 1956 and the idea of computers, cell phones, FaceTime and other inventions were from "The Jetsons," a 1960s cartoon about the future. This wasn’t real life and was unimaginable. Many people say that in the year 2018, it has gotten out of hand. In fact, my husband of 38 years is one of the biggest advocates for getting “your face out of the phone and spending more time in nature.”

Ok, I see his point and yes, I often use the phone too much, and by the way so does he, but that disagreement is for another article. This is the story of communication and technology and seeing our daughter’s face.

I have written about our daughter, Jessica, who has significant disabilities and needs total assistance with all daily life skills. Everything you and I may take for granted as a daily routine, Jessica needs support to complete. Jessica is also non-verbal. It has always been hard to chat with Jess when we are out of town. Jess communicates with her whole face – her smile is broad and her eyes twinkle. How do you relay this over a standard phone?

If I was out of town and wanted to talk to Jess and was not face to face, an aide or friend would put a phone near Jessica’s ear and I would sing and chat away, never sure if she was listening or enjoying my endless banter. The same with family members who tried to talk with Jess using a traditional phone. I confess that I sometimes made goofy faces while they were talking to Jess so that she would giggle, and they would hear what they thought was a response to their voice. We wanted Jess to have the connection with out of town loved ones, so we continued our charade for years.

This year Jess got her first iPhone. Why would we get an iPhone for Jess when she was unable to speak, unable to go online or use many of the features? The miracle of FaceTime is the answer.

Jessica is a whiz at FaceTime. Let me put this in perspective. I call Jessica’s house to let them know that I am going to call on Jessica’s iPhone and they will hold the phone for Jess. Once she sees my face, it is almost like we are together. She beams! She laughs! She hums tunes to me! Her smile is broad and her eyes twinkle! Jessica loves Facetime!

This week, I had to go out of town to be with family and Jess became ill while I was away. It’s always frightening for us when Jess becomes ill because she is unable to speak about her symptoms or how she is feeling; she is also at risk for seizures with a high fever. My son, Alex, became the captain of Team Jess and was an amazing support to Jess and us. The first night he visited Jess we FaceTimed and Jess brightened up when she saw us, so I was a bit relieved; however, I was able to see that she had a fever. Mother’s intuition from afar was accurate and they immediately gave Jess medicine to bring down her temperature.

Jess recovered, and I am home now and can get real time hugs and love from Jess, but FaceTime is truly the next best thing. So, amidst all the negativity of people tuned into their phones too much and tuning out the world around them, I wanted to tell a story of how phones can help a person tune in.

Vickie Rubin has seen loving proof of technology's benefits.

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