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Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Though Halloween is still several weeks away, chances are your children are eagerly anticipating the holiday, planning their costumes, and thinking about parties and trick-or-treating. If your child has special needs, Halloween can present some extra challenges. But none of these challenges are insurmountable. Check out these tips for a Happy Halloween!
Find the perfect costume
What child doesn’t love playing dress-up? Costumes provide children with the opportunity to pretend, fantasize and express their interests and creativity. If your child uses a wheelchair, incorporating the chair into her costume is a great way to go. Does he love NASCAR? Create a race-car from the wheelchair. Does she dream of being a princess? Turn her wheelchair into a coach. Check out Enabling Devices’ Halloween post from last year for more terrific ideas.
If your child has sensory issues, take care to choose a costume that fits comfortably and isn’t made of scratchy fabric that could spoil your child’s fun. That may mean avoiding store-bought costumes, masks, hats, face paint or other accessories that can irritate sensitive skin.
Prepare for the big day or night
Halloween is tons of fun, but it can also be kind of scary. If your child tends to become fearful or anxious, consider trick-or-treating during the day instead of at night, read books, sing songs and have discussions about what to expect during Halloween.
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. So, this week’s blogpost pays tribute to people with Down Syndrome who are accomplishing amazing things, as well as their families, teachers and therapists.
Here are some facts:According to the National Down Syndrome Society, “Trisomy 21 (nondisjunction) Down syndrome is usually caused by an error in cell division called "nondisjunction." Nondisjunction results in an embryo with three copies of chromosome 21 instead of the usual two. Prior to or at conception, a pair of 21st chromosomes in either the sperm or the egg fails to separate.”
People with Down syndrome share certain physical characteristics including eyes that slant upwards, low muscle tone, a deep crease across their palms, and short stature. Though all people with Down syndrome experience some degree of cognitive delays, it is now understood, that they are capable of learning, have diverse interests, talents and strengths just like their typically developing peers.
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Like so many girls her age, Melissa Shang of Westborough, Massachusetts, loves American Girl dolls and the accompanying books that tell the dolls’ stories. The company’s BeForever line includes dolls and stories that teach children ages 8-13 about American history, with characters including Kaya, a Native American girl living in the mid-late 1700s, Felicity, whose story takes place at the beginning of the American Revolution, Josefina, a Mexican-American girl living in the early 1800s and Molly, who resides in Illinois during World War II. Beginning in the early 2000s, the company launched its Girl of the Year line, featuring contemporary heroines of different races, religions and ethnicities dealing with a variety of challenges.
Melissa enjoyed playing with the dolls and learning about their stories, but as a girl with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a type of muscular dystrophy, she longed for an American Girl doll who like her, had a disability. With the support of her older sister Eva, in 2014 Melissa initiated an online petition asking the creators of American Girl dolls to add a Girl of the Year doll with a disability. Though the petition went viral, was signed by more than 140,000 people and garnered significant media attention, the company has not committed to produce a doll with a disability.
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
With new apps being developed all the time, it’s hard to keep up. Here’s a run-down on some new and coming soon apps likely to benefit people with disabilities.
Beam Smart Presence System
Remote shopping is nothing new, but this app, currently being tested by American Eagle Outfitters, a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based clothing retailer, promises to make remote shopping a more personal, interactive experience. “The Beam Smart Presence System” will help people with mobility challenges that prevent them from traveling to a brick and mortar store to “beam” into an American Eagle location from a computer or tablet. When users “beam in” they can communicate with a sales clerk, who speaks to them through a tablet at the store. Using a second tablet, the shopper can remotely follow the clerk up and down the store aisles as the clerk shows the shopper store merchandise.
Monday, September 11, 2017
The first weeks of a new school year typically bring excitement, exhaustion and for some children — especially those with special needs — a fair amount of anxiety. Certain products available through Enabling Devices can help take the edge off that anxiety, helping students to calm down, focus and attend to their classwork. In turn, these products can decrease the likelihood of disruptive behaviors, and increase the likelihood of positive social interactions. Here are some suggestions for products that encourage success in school. Some are sold in classroom kits while others can be purchased individually.
According to Occupational Therapy for Children, “Fidget toys are often used to provide sensory input in a less distracting way. They can help improve concentration and attention to tasks by allowing the brain to filter out the extra sensory information (e.g. listening to a lesson in the classroom, paying attention to a book during circle time). By having a fidget toy, a child may be able to better ‘filter out’ excess sensory information in their surroundings and their own body, which is causing distraction, and encouraging this sensory information to be focused on a toy in the hands.”
Enabling Devices’ fidget kit comes with 13 different small and discrete fidget toys that help students become calm, focus and regulate their nervous systems. Students can choose from fidget toys including our Desk Buddy Sensory Bars, finger squash its, gel bead balls, pencil finger fidgets and many more.
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
When a catastrophe such as Hurricane Harvey strikes, the consequences are disastrous for everyone impacted. For people with physical, psychological and developmental disabilities, the situation can be even more dire. Just imagine: trying to maneuver a wheelchair through five feet of water; being blind and having to climb a ladder to safety; having autism and losing your home and the prized possessions that make you feel secure. These are just some of the challenges that people with disabilities are facing in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Amidst the devastation in Texas, nonprofits that advocate for people with disabilities are doing their best to ensure that they aren’t left behind. Here are some that are doing good work or collecting money for people with disabilities. You may wish to support them at this critically important time.
Portlight and its partner, The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies has been working on behalf of people with disabilities “to promote inclusiveness in disaster preparedness and response plans and to demand provisions for transportation and shelter accessibility,” since 1997. During Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the organization worked with disabled hurricane survivors for 18 months, helping them to replace lost medical equipment, rebuild ramping, and more. Portlight provided similar support for disabled victims of flooding in Louisiana in 2016. Portlight also runs a program called Getting It Right which offers workshops and conferences on issues related to inclusive disaster preparedness and advocates for accessibility in housing and transportation.