Breaking Ground 92 - Enabling Technology: A parent’s perspective

by Bonnie Micheli, Partners Graduate and Parent Advocate for Nicole Micheli
a lovely, happy photo of author Bonnie with her daughter Nicole and her husband Brian. It is an outdoor shot and all three family members have big smiles on their faces

Many states have already brought technology into the day-to-day lives of those with intellectual disabilities as a tool to allow maximum independence yet still have the assistance needed by the supported individuals. Now the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities is bringing technology to providers to create more independence in a safe environment for the people they serve. 

Imagine a home with a monitor to remind you to shut off the stove after you’re finished using it. Or a medication dispenser that alerts you when it’s time to take your medications, dispenses the correct pills, and alerts you if you miss a dose. Or sensors that monitor when you get out of bed at night and go to the bathroom – and notice if you are in there longer than normal. Maybe a two-way camera with audio to discuss the weather and clothing choices with a remote-staff member before leaving for work in the morning. These are real examples of how technology can play a role in caring for our supported family members, so they can live a more independent life.

It sounds a lot like how I live each day. I have apps on my phone that can remind me when it’s time to do an activity; my computer allows me to Skype with anyone around the world with a click of a button; and I daily ask Amazon’s Alexa to buy my Prime purchases and Google Home what the weather is, so I know what to wear before I leave the house.

This is 2018. We embrace new technology every day to make our lives easier and our days fuller. The introduction of technology as a tool that providers and those supported can choose to add into their daily plan is long overdue. I dream of the day that my daughter’s provider will be able to set up her home, so she can use her communication device to control her surroundings independently.