Technology in The Home to Help Cerebral Palsy 

Cerebral palsy has an impact on my life. Probably best describe as impacting me between mildly and moderately. Much of it depending on the physical task attempting to be accomplished. I have been fortunate to handle many tasks independently. With the ability to live in an unmodified home without roommate assistance. While, I see my ability to live on my own as an accomplishment. I have been blessed to have lived with roommates on and off, through the years. Recent times, have provided some interesting ideas for making a living space operate easier. One of those ideas has been with the use of technology. So, a company came out to give a consultation on ways of making the home more technologically advanced. With the idea that doing so might present ways of helping me better manage my disability. Making the little things, the things we might not often think about, easier. It could make my overall living experience simpler. Since so much time is spent using our phones in today’s world. Running physical tasks in the home through my phone, might be positive. The company came out to the house and found some ideas. A couple of switches were changed to run through a phone. But, one of the most significant ideas was changing the front door lock. The action took away a challenge that has been difficult throughout my life. They provided me the ability to stop using one more key. The accomplishment was made by placing a key-pad lock on the door. 

Think about the variety of objects we use to initiate the power of items. All the switches, levers, or buttons we come across daily. These are installed with the general population in mind. Making it as simple as possible for someone typically developed to operate the world. For me, the differences in all the switches and levels just gets complex. I have found in my life, the best way for me to do something physical has been to practice. Work on doing a specific task over and over again. Finding ways to modify the physical task to make it accomplishable. Many times, it might mean coming at it from a different angle. Positioning my hands and body differently from someone typically developed, in order to accomplish the task. With each type of switch or lever, the same kind of process insures. Never truly finding a way to become proficient enough at one. The best I could do was get proficient enough with all the different unlocking mechanism. Over the years, the process has been a taxing part of my life. Each time I come across a switch or level that is new, I wonder about my ability to make it operate. The positive aspect of moving in a smart home direct would be consolidation. The ability to take away all the different switches inside of the home. Placing more of the operations for the home into my phone. 

The smart phone hasn’t always been the easiest to use. Each time I get a new phone, my process begins anew. Getting used to the size of the phone, how easy or challenging it might be to balance in my hands. The best way to stabilize the phone and operate the functions. But, things with the iPhone have become pretty unified through the years. Once things fully moved to touch screens. The opportunity to get used to touching the screen for operations was there. So, I could practice over and over again, using a phone that hasn’t changed too much. What at first might have been hard, through operating phone after phone, has become doable. Something I will never be proficient at, as I watch others quickly move through screens. I continue to improve with functions that don’t change much with each phone. Helping me get better at tapping the right button, or using my thumb to navigate the different screens. With all of my practice using the iPhone, being able to do more with a device I was familiar seemed a good idea. Taking away different switched to manage in the home and having it operate from a phone I’m used to operating. So, the company came in to look at some of the things we could operate wirelessly. The most impactful was changing out the lock on the front door. But, they also made a couple sets of the lights operational with the phone. The lock on the front door became a key pad. 

A couple months ago I wrote about my challenges with using a standard key. How we can look at some of the progressions away from the old standard key. The first I remember was unlocking a hotel room. Where we went from the key, to inserting a key-card into a slot in the door. From there, moving to what many hotels have today, which has become the magnetized key-card. Where we hold the card up to a circle on the door and the room door unlatches. The advance of the magnetized key-card really took pressure off my disability. Then, there have been similar advances in car keys. From the alarm fob to save us from unlocking the car door with a standard key. To the key-fob, allowing us to operate the entire car with our hands. From unlocking the doors to starting the engine. Again, helping make the process much easier for someone with physical challenges to operate. The smart home company did the same thing with the lock on the front door. They took away the requirement for me to use a standard key. Even better, placing a standard key pad on the door to use for entry. Enabling me to type a code in by pushing buttons. Not dissimilar to tapping the buttons on the screen of my phone. I can rest my fingers on the side of the keypad lip, for hand stability. Using my thumb to punch in the code and release the lock. Making it much more simplistic for my sometimes-shaky hands.

The company set up a couple more things to make life easier. They placed the front lights and the garage door on smart switches. Providing the ability to control both through my iPhone. Removing the challenging of variety in my physical life. Now, I used my thumb on the screen of my phone. Allowing me to open and close the garage door from anywhere. The ability to operate the outdoor house lights is the same, using my phone. The consolidation of house functions helps me concentrate more fully on one idea. The concept of getting better at working with my phone. So, I’m not walking around and navigating different switches in my daily life. The advancement of technology has often left me feeling anxious. New equipment to operate can often be challenging. Learning how to make things work with the challenge of my disability. It took me a long time to open myself up to trying a tablet. I thought the screen would be too big for me to use my thumb, while stabilizing my hand on something. But, I found ways to make the adjustment, knowing I struggle trying to simply use my pointer finger to push any kind of button. My hand usually needs to be anchored against something. Thankfully, today the physical structure of our devices doesn’t vary much. Giving the chance to learn how to best use them through the years. Making it much better to use these apps on my phone, as controls to my physical life. Technology has made life with cerebral palsy easier to navigate. 

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