By Melanie Renault As any parent with a non-verbal child can tell you, they would give anything to hear their child speak and be able to know their exact needs and what they love. There are other ways to communicate of course, but it would be so nice to hear the sound. As any parent who watches their child fight day after day to learn the social skills they need to interact with peers will tell you, they would wish for anything, sacrifice anything, to trade places with their child so they do not have to see them struggle. We would graciously and lovingly take the pain they feel when they are not accepted, not invited, not understood. We would bear it all if it meant they could have a sense of belonging. I live on both sides of the struggle. I have lived it, learning and remembering to make eye contact at just the right times but not for too long so it is uncomfortable. This is not a reaction that comes naturally for me. I have lived it, not knowing how to correctly socialize and allowing people to believe I prefer it this way because I do not know how to be a proper friend. I have come to the point in my life where I have perfected my skills so well that most people would not realize my discomfort in social situations or I believe they would not. Being social is such an abstract thought process for me, robotic motions I have worked with to hide my true self. I have exposed myself just enough to make a temporary fit when necessary. I like to say I am socially challenged. In this great technological age we live in, we have so many resources, so many forms of communication that we are able to do things we would not have been able to do not that many years ago. It has provided so much opportunity for resources and support systems and growth. The convenience of being able to communicate without words when necessary has become an automatic response to most. Yet I wonder if it is all a good thing. I have seen people on dates and they are texting continuously. I will assume it is not to each other. I have watched parents ignore their children at the park and at swimming in order to respond to the written words of someone they could contact later. I watch groups of friends send texts to each other when they are in the same room because it is easier than speaking. In this age of social media are we losing our true social abilities? The skills I fight so hard for, that many children and adults do not come by naturally are slowly fading for others who have them on demand. As I watch people becoming “Socially Autistic” it makes me question how many people take their natural abilities for granted? Technology is a wonderful thing and this blog is a fine example of that… Just do not forget that nothing can replace the spoken words of a friend, the eye contact of someone you care about or the precious moments with the people you love. You can never get those moments back once they are gone. You can always go back to your gadgets. Or, if you want to really keep it old school, give them a call later.