Tuesday, June 19, 2012

An open letter to Apple

An Open Letter to Apple

Dear Apple,

          I am the proud father of a daughter with Autism. Her name is Abbey (short for Abigail), she is 2 ½ years old, and was diagnosed this past fall.  In case you aren’t aware: “Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors “  (taken from AutisnSpeaks.org, article title What is Autism?). Since then, we have been working hard with our local school district and other outside agencies to help, and she has made substantial progress over the past several months.
          Through various social media outlets, as well as from my daughter’s teachers, I had heard that the iPad had a number of apps specifically designed for children/people with Autism, helping to teach them basic life skills (language development, potty training, even using it as a communication tool for those who are more severe cases).  After a bit of investigating, and seeing her teachers use it with her during their home visits, my wife and I finally decided to buy one for her, to continue to work with her over the coming summer months.  Obviously, the price was a hurdle that we had to conquer, but we finally went out to our local Wal-Mart and made the purchase.
          We have only had our iPad for about a month or so, but in that short time, I have seen my daughter learn new words, discover new animals and their sounds , made substantial progress in the area of potty training (something my wife and I have been dreading for months), been able to watch Sesame Street episodes (which helped greatly on a recent 6 hour road trip), and have fun in the process.  While I am indebted to the individual developers of those apps specifically, I am indebted to you for your development of this technology, because without it, none of these things would have been possible.  I am excited to see how much more we will be able to teach her in the future, and am hopeful that someday, she will be able to function normally and contribute to society in profound ways in the future. In short, thank you.


Nick Scutari

Daughters, Guitars, God & Autism

Well, since the semester is (finally) over, I have had time over the last number of days to do those things that I never had time for while still in the midst of spring classes. Things like play my guitar, play more with my daughters, make banana bread, and do some reading that isn't seminary-related.  The one that I enjoy the most has to be playing my guitar.  For one thing, I've been playing since I was a teenager, and it's just something I enjoy doing.  For another, it puts my older, 2 1/2 year old daughter in a good mood.  When I get the guitar out of the closet, she starts screaming "MUSIC!! MUSIC!!"and her excitement continues from there. (More than once, I've used it as a re-direct tool when she starts acting out because of her Autism).  My almost 6-month old daughter Zoe either stares at me or the guitar as I play, or it puts her to sleep (haha).
One song in particular that I play is John Mayer's "Daughters."  I've been playing the guitar part for years, but only recently was able to pick up the lyrics and play it all together.  What struck me about this song, though is its message. The obvious meaning to the song is that the guy is in love with a girl who was hurt/abused/abandoned by her father, and now he's gotta figure it out.  But it seems like every time my own life circumstance changes, I find myself coming to see it with a new meaning.
In college, I heard it as a love song to my then fiancee, now wife. Not that she carries any kind of baggage from her father, but as I would listen to it, I really did feel like she was "the girl who put the color inside of my world."
As time went on, and we had our first daughter, Abbey, I heard it in a new way from the perspective of a new father, whose daughter I knew was going to change my life in substantial ways.  Then she was diagnosed with Autism.  I got upset, I cried, I got angry, I yelled at God. I asked "why?" and said "it's not fair." And then I accepted it.  Now, as I hear (and play) it to her now, I hear it in a new way once again. The "girl who puts the color inside of my world," is still my daughter, but she does that because of her different perspective and experience of life.  It has pushed me to appreciate life in a new way.
As I was playing for her yesterday, I played and sang the song once again, but this time, became overly aware of how much influence I have over my daughters, and reminded me of the responsibilities I have to them as a parent, beyond the day to day stuff.

So there it is. Keep looking up everyone.

Much love,