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...
Toys We Love

Toys We Love

I know not all special needs children will want or need the types of toys Chloe loves, but I have been excited about a couple recent finds and wanted to share! This “Mirror Chimeabout” is Chloe’s latest favorite toy! It is reflective, noisy, and easy to spin. She loves to take beads or a keychain and use them to put it in motion and/or make noise. It was pretty expensive for a toy, but for us, it is worth it! This inflatable sensory tray is another hit at our house! I put anything sensory on it and let Chloe go to town. She especially loves things that make a giant mess like water, shaving cream, and rice. The edges come up just enough to keep things from spilling too much and the material doesn’t bother Chloe’s skin. And the price! You cannot beat this price. If you’ve looked up trays like this before, you will flip over the price this is on Amazon. Worth every penny! Another recent hit is this LED animated light show fan. I got this for Chloe to have for entertainment at a recent hospital visit and I was so glad we had it! At night, I’d turn the lights off, clip this on the bed rail, turn it on, and Chloe would go wild. We’ve also used this on evening walks and in her bedroom. It is always a hit! If your child likes visual sensory input, you can’t beat this toy for the price! Chloe fell in love with a bell carousel at a physical therapy session so I ran home to find it...
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...
Service Monkeys

Service Monkeys

Recently, I saw a man with a service monkey at the airport. Is your jaw on the ground? Because mine was, in amazement! I had to look it up right away and what I learned was amazing! Service Monkeys According to monkeyhelpers.org, “The most obvious difference between capuchin monkeys and other service animals is their dexterous hands and amazing fine motor skills. This enables them to perform tasks such as: turning pages scratching itches retrieving dropped objects inserting straws into bottles turning on buttons/switches for remotes, phones, computers, etc. repositioning limbs on a wheelchair Other differences include: their long life span of 30-40 years small size which allows them to cuddle in their human partner’s lap or nook of their neck monkeys have hair, like humans, which helps to alleviates problems with fur-related allergies Monkeys also have a strong sense of hierarchy which provides the motivation to care for and be cared for by their human partner. Helping Hands trainers and placement staff utilize this natural hierarchy to create a mutually beneficial and nurturing relationship between the monkey and the recipient.” Then I found this video showing a service monkey in action and helping this amazing young man. You have to watch this! Other service animals include miniature horses and pigs. And if you’re wondering, most airlines do let them on planes to serve people with disabilities....
Just Because

Just Because

Sam has recently become obsessed with this book, Just Because by Rebecca Elliott. It’s about a little blonde hair blue eyed boy whose older sister is in a wheelchair. The little boy loves to lay by his sister, laugh with her, look at books with her, be outside with her, pretend with her, and dream with her. The boy doesn’t know why his sister is in a wheelchair and doesn’t talk and has curly hair….just because. Sam makes me read it to him at least 10 times a day. I recently found him sitting on the couch hugging it…..just because. Chloe also loves the book and gets excited when the brother and sister pretend the wheelchair is a rocket and go up into space! Rebecca Elliott has another book about the same siblings and hospital visits the sister has to make, Sometimes. It is also a very sweet book and both of my kids like it a lot. I think these books will become more and more important as Sam matures and understands the many things that make his sister different and can see pictures that look a lot like his life in a fun, happy book. I’m grateful he already understands it enough that reading the books is important and special to him. I can’t recommend these books...