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Don’t Tell Me I Ruined My Child

I am growing very weary of the current onslaught of hysterical, anti-technology rhetoric. If I were to buy in to all the hype I've been reading lately, I'd be convinced I'd ruined my child.

Instead, I recognize there are exceptions to every rule. I know from firsthand experience there are benefits to today's technology. And above all, I trust my own instincts about my child and in my ability to make decisions that are best for her.

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My daughter has Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). She was nonverbal until well after 3 years old and was only able to speak after several years of intensive speech therapy. When we first took her to a speech-language pathologist, she was 22 months old. It was recommended we work on sign language in order to give her an immediate way to communicate.

After reading about the benefits, I began signing with her when she was around 4 months old. She first signed back at around 10 months, but it had all been very basic. We needed to ramp up her vocabulary — and ours — fast.

I exposed my child to screens before she was 2, something many would consider to be a cardinal sin.

So I went to our local library and found a series of "Signing Time" DVDs. They had children her age singing and dancing and signing. My daughter and I would watch them together. She loved them. We also found apps that had signing flash cards and games, and used them on my phone and tablet.

I exposed my child to screens before she was 2, something many would consider to be a cardinal sin. It was not the first time, but it did result in a significant increase in her exposure.

Sign language was a godsend. Finally my daughter had a way to communicate. By the time she was 3, she had a signing vocabulary of over 300 words, and I was trying desperately to keep up. At her wellness visit that year, her pediatrician referred to her as, "bilingual." (Her comprehension of spoken language was advanced for her age, even though she could not speak.)

Shortly after she turned 5, my daughter "graduated" from speech therapy. Today she is thriving. We are considering entering her in the gifted program at her school because she is performing a grade level above her age. She is happy, healthy and well adjusted.

She does not match the picture many articles have painted of a child who had early exposure to technology. I'm not saying recent research is flawed or current concerns aren't valid, but I do believe it is an issue that requires careful consideration. I also feel there are too many knee-jerk reactions and fear-mongering taking place. And I don't think it helps parents or children.

My husband and I thoroughly consider and closely monitor our daughter's use of technology. We limit how much time she spends in front of a screen at home each day and regularly assess what she is or is not getting from her interactions with electronic devices in any form, making adjustments as we feel they are needed.

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Our view is that technology is part of the world our child is growing up in, and it behooves us to work to find the most responsible ways to incorporate it into her life and help her use it wisely.

As a parent, there are decisions to be made at every stage that have the potential to impact your child long term. It can be daunting. But using technology to help my daughter is not something I have ever doubted.

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