We have a four-year-old staying in our home (with her mother from Washington the state). I kept her this afternoon while her mother attended the Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the first time.
Little Anna is deaf. She has implants on her head to allow her to obtain some hearing. She signs and talks. She is going to school all day four days a week to develop both her ASL skills and her speaking skills.
What a miracle for her. It was not too long ago that deaf people were considered morons. They were at the fringe of society unless someone taught them. The story of Helen Keller who was deaf and blind and rescued by her determined teacher to fulfill a brilliant potential is well known.
Now this lovely child can learn to communicate in the hearing community as well as in the deaf community. In fact, the deaf community sometimes discourages teaching children to speak because they want the child to feel enabled, not to feel stigmatized by their inability to speak perfectly normally.
This child is charming, curious, happy, and smart. She can do puzzles and play games. I gave her a pair of child’s scissors and a newspaper section and she went to it for a long, long time, just cutting random pieces and shapes, reducing the newspaper to shreds. She behaves exactly as a normal four-year-old does, seeking independence, teasing, full of personality. Since I don’t sign, I couldn’t understand her language, but we managed. I was the moron and she was the teacher as we did our various activities. My grandchildren are all pretty grown up, so it was a real treat for me to play with Anna.
We who have lived for a long time tend to look back on the “good old days.” But medical science has enabled us to prolong life as well as enable a better quality of life for us. I have been reading something about medieval times, the filth, the blood-letting, the terrible conditions of the poor. We have bad things in this age, but indoor plumbing, hospitals, cars, weather forecasts, expectations of universal schooling, and the availability of information are treasures beyond the imagination of anyone from, say, the year 1200 AD.
Here I am writing to a number of people I care about. I have to write only one letter and to send it to about 50 addresses as well as to Word Press https://wordpress.com/stats/day/lifeetc2016.wordpress.com Everything that is an improvement costs something. Living in the age of the microwave oven changes life. The internet has at l
east as much potential for bad as for good, but we do have choices to enjoy the good if we will exercise them. I guess it comes down to the old saying, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” For better or for worse, change has to be as selectively and carefully accepted as when people found they could use the Montgomery Ward Catalogue for toilet paper. It was softer than corn husks, but you used up a major source of evening entertainment wishing for things, never guessing that someday there would be Amazon.PMA