Toy Like Me

Toy Like Me

Have you heard of Toy Like Me? It’s a campaign for ran by parents of children with disabilities promoting change in the toy industry to better represent disabilities. And the toy industry better watch out because if there is a group of people who are patient, persistent, and willing to never stop fighting for what they want, it’s special needs parents! And what a great idea! According to an article on Upworthy, three parents came together and decided their children (one in a wheelchair, one who is deaf and visually impaired, and one who is blind) decided their children needed their assistive accessories to be represented in the toy world to make them feel comfortable and promote positive self image. They made a prototype doll with a cochlear implant, which they shared on social media. The image was shared enough that one week later, a toy company contacted them to take their idea and run with it! There are dolls and a current push for Lego to catch on to the idea. Read the full Upworthy article here. Both of my children, Chloe with special needs and Sam who has no special needs but has a sister with special needs and is exposed to special needs often, love to see pictures of children in wheelchairs in books or toys with special needs equipment (we have a teddy bear with a wheelchair), or when there are children with special needs on one of their favorite shows (Sesame Street does a pretty good job of featuring children with special needs in their episodes). Whenever there is something that reflects those unique aspects...
Special Needs Swimming Tips and Gear

Special Needs Swimming Tips and Gear

Summer’s here and the living is easy  hot! Let’s be honest, there’s just nothing better than cooling off in a pool, lake, or ocean when those temperatures creep up! And for those with special needs, swimming is also a great way to get exercise in a weightless environment as well as much-needed sensory input. So let me share a few things that work for us with Chloe’s unique needs and I’ll share a few other awesome ideas I’ve seen around the internet that might work for your needs! Use a bath chair. Since we already have a bath chair for Chloe’s bathing needs, I love this idea because it didn’t mean spending any more money! Especially since I never know for sure what will and won’t work for Chloe, anything that is cheap or free is definitely preferred! We love using her bath chair at the beach or at pools because it keeps her safe when I have to use my hands for something else, but still lets her feel the water and be included in what everyone else is doing. In a pool, I put her in her bath chair in the shallow end and other kids love to come and play around her. So even though she isn’t actually swimming, she’s participating and having fun in the pool! I also give her beaded necklaces to hold in her hand and she loves to hit those on the water and make a splash. On the beach, this is also great to let her experience the waves rolling in and out. She LOVES it (as you can see below)! I’ve also...
Know Before You Go

Know Before You Go

I recently came across an article in Costco Connection. The name of the article (found here) was Making ‘Travel Accessible For Everyone’ with a picture of a person in a wheelchair. Since I’ve recently caught the travel bug, but worry about travelling with Chloe, this really grabbed my attention. The article talks about John Williams of wheelchairdestinations.com, his mission, and how he goes about it. I was thrilled to read that he previews tourist locations with the perspective and needs of wheelchair users in mind, then shares his findings on his website and with “Know Before You Go” videos. How cool is that! He focuses in the pacific northwest. We do have a couple trips planned in that area so I was thrilled! And it got me thinking we need more of this information for everywhere we want to go! In addition to Shannon’s awesome special needs travel tips shared here, I realized how nice it would be to truly know before we go anywhere exactly what to expect in regard to wheelchair accessibility and other features at destinations that will be good to know. For example, I didn’t find out that Disneyland has a special area just off Main Street where you can take your child to nap or change their diaper. They also sell quite a few supplies. I didn’t find out about this until the last day of our third trip there with Chloe. Boy do I wish I would have known about it sooner! There were many times a trip there to decompress and help her climb out of sensory overload would have saved the...
3 Reasons I Don’t Mind When Young Children Point and Stare at My Child With Special Needs

3 Reasons I Don’t Mind When Young Children Point and Stare at My Child With Special Needs

I might be making several generations of special needs parents angry by saying this, but it’s true. I don’t mind when young children point and stare at my child with special needs. In fact, I like it! I’m such a rebel, I know. ‘Don’t point’ and ‘don’t stare’ are pretty basic social recommendations for people of all ages. But let me explain my deviant way of thinking by sharing two examples from the happiest place on earth…you guessed it. Disneyland! Example one. I was waiting with Chloe for the rest of our party to get off a ride that Chloe wasn’t able to go on. We were sitting on a bench and a very cute family was sitting next to us. The mom was passing out snacks and planning their next stop when one of her sons, probably 4 or 5 years old, kept looking at Chloe and/or her wheelchair. His mom noticed and told him it was not nice to stare. Then slowly but surely, he wiggled his way closer and, pointing at Chloe’s pink wheelchair, asked me, “Why is she sitting in that?” I smiled a big grin, excited to talk about how we all have differences and planned to encourage him to chat with Chloe because, well, she loves making friends! Before I got a single word out, his mom went in to panic mode. I’m sure she was thinking, ‘Oh no. He was staring, now he’s pointing and asking questions. He is breaking social protocol. What an embarrassment!’ She grabbed him and angrily told him how it is not nice to point, stare, and annoy strangers....
I Am

I Am

Music is one of the main ways I deal with the ups and downs of life – it always has been and I imagine it always will be. Playing the piano has always been an outlet for me and I always feel emotionally recharged when I’m done. I soak up lyrics like my life depends on it. So when I faced the life changing experience of special needs motherhood, I found some of my greatest comfort through playing and listening to music and finding lyrics that helped me through my journey. Chloe, probably by default, also loves music. Before we had her seizures under control, one of the only things that stopped her from screaming would be laying right by the piano while I played it. A neurologist once told me the different vibrations are probably what did it. Needless to say, I did a lot of piano playing in those early months! We also got her involved with music therapy that we still use to this day. Many different songs have helped and inspired me (and continue to do so) through a lot of different rough times. Music to me is like breathing. I don’t get tired of breathing and I don’t get tired of music. ~Ray Charles When a song comes together with awesome music and lyrics that touch on a subject close to my heart, it immediately becomes a favorite. That’s what happened with this song, I Am by Vinyl Hearts. Inclusion has conceptually been important to me since I can remember. The older Chloe gets, however, and especially the more she recognizes her differences and feels sad...