Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Gift of Music

With so many gift options, how can you determine the best choices for your loved one? Enabling Devices’ new gift guide can help. Organized by category, the guide features our most popular toys and products to make holiday gift-buying decisions a breeze. Though our sales team members are always available for individual consultations, you can also benefit from their comprehensive knowledge of our products right here.

This week, we talk with Sales Associate Robin L. Robin is a big fan of Enabling Devices’ musical toys. It’s no wonder! Data confirming the many health benefits of music as well as its capacity to bring people together is mounting every day. Below, Robin gives us a rundown on her favorite musical toys.

 Ring Around Bells (#2202)
Whether you’re buying for your own child or for use in an inclusive classroom, Robin highly recommends the updated, bestselling Ring Around Bells toy.  This toy is extremely versatile and can be used in several different ways. Colorful bells twirl around and play the musical scale when activated either by the attached switch or an independent capability switch, while the multi-colored LED lights blink; bells can be twirled by hand or can be detached and distributed so that many people can play them together. Ring Around Bells is a great toy for improving listening and grasping skills as well as eye-hand coordination. “The toy comes with a music card you can follow or you can compose your own music,” says Robin. The Ring Around Bells toy is perfect for the holidays since the bells sound like Christmas!

Young music lovers will be transfixed watching the multicolored glitter inside the twister twirl around and around. At the same time, the twister plays music. “The shiny glittery confetti has a holiday feel and is really attention-grabbing,” says Robin. In addition to being great fun, this toy also improves visual attention and listening skills!

This toy is ideal for your budding musician. This toy is more like a musical instrument. Children can ring the precision-tuned bells and play familiar songs including Twinkle, Twinkle and Mary Had a Little Lamb. They can also compose their own melodies or play along with seven additional pre-recorded songs including Old MacDonald and Row Your Boat. ”This is an amazing toy that turns your child into a live-in DJ!” says Robin. It’s also great for helping children to learn their colors and improving their listening skills.”

Great for children, teens and adults, this musical device works great as a backlight for tracing and as a light source for people with low vision. It also develops visual attention and is useful for practicing writing skills.

“I really like all of our inclusive music items if you can’t guess,” says Robin. “They teach how to follow along, they are pleasing to the ears and the eyes and most of all, they promote inclusion. They make children with disabilities feel that they are part of the group, not looking in from the outside.”

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Enabling Devices: Access for Everyone

While this blog usually focuses on topics pertaining to children with disabilities, their parents, teachers and therapists, Enabling Devices also creates, adapts and sells innovative devices for teens and adults. Now that the holiday shopping season is officially under way, you need look no further for gifts that will truly improve the quality of life for loved ones with disabilities.

Capability switches are a great choice since they open up a world of possibilities for people with disabilities. Thanks to these gadgets, even individuals with the most profound mobility and neurological challenges are able to access a range of devices including computers, communicators, toys, wheelchairs and environmental controls, independently.    
Sady Paulson a video editor with cerebral palsy was recently featured in a video shown on Apple’s new accessibility website. In a recent interview with Mashable’s Katie Dupere, Paulson said that switch technology “has been instrumental in allowing her to pursue her passion for video creation. ‘Before Switch Control, there were limitations to what I could do and how long it would take me …These were physical limitations that held me back from realizing my dreams. But I knew all along that I had the ability, the creativity and the passion. Switch Control has removed those barriers and empowered me to access my abilities and pursue my passion.’"

Monday, November 21, 2016

Eight Ways to Minimize Holiday Season Stress

It’s back!!! Thanksgiving marks the beginning of America’s holiday season—a time for family, feasting, parties, shopping, gift-giving and a break from regular routines such as work, school, and extra-curricular activities. While most of us look forward to the holiday season, there’s no question that it can be stressful. Holiday stress may be compounded for families with children with disabilities. Yet, with some careful planning, you can minimize the stress and maximize the joy of the holiday season. Here are some of the best strategies:

1. Pace yourself
Holiday season is chock full of parties, family events, school concerts, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanza and New Year’s get-togethers. While you may feel pressure to participate in all of them, resist the urge to do too much. All children, but especially those who are young or have special needs may become easily overwhelmed, over-tired and over-stimulated by large crowds of people, loud noise and blinking lights associated with holiday season, so choose family activities carefully, and approach the activities you do select planfully. 

2. Have an escape route
Be prepared in case a family outing doesn’t pan out as you had planned. One Friendship Circle blogger who is the parent of a special needs child says that she and her husband bring two cars when they go places with their kids so “one of us can leave if our child with special needs is acting up. This way our other children can remain (if they wish), and our child with special needs can go home where he feels more comfortable.” 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Research Points to Proven Therapy for Young Children with Autism

On Oct. 25, while most parents of young children were absorbed with preparing Halloween costumes, and estimating how much candy to purchase for trick-or-treaters, the Lancet Medical Journal published the results of a groundbreaking study by researchers at University of Manchester, King's College London and Newcastle University. The “Preschool Autism Communication Trial” (PACT) which was conducted over six years and included 152 families of children with severe autism, found that what some media outlets have dubbed “super parenting,” helps reduce symptoms of autism in the long-term.  The great news? Anyone can be a “super-parent”, with the right training. Parents who participated in the study watched videos of themselves interacting with their autistic children while communication experts provided coaching on how they could expand communication with their children, some of whom were non-verbal.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Paralympic Glory

This past Sunday, long-distance wheelchair racer, Tatyana McFadden, who has spina bifida “won her fifth overall New York title, earning her a fourth straight sweep of all four [New York, Chicago, Boston and London] major marathons,” reports Team The win made the 27-year-old McFadden the first woman in the history of wheelchair racing or elite running to do so. It was also a boon to McFadden, who was disappointed by her (nevertheless outstanding) performance this summer in the Rio Paralympics. McFadden’s historic marathon record got us thinking about the origins of wheelchair sports, which date back to the 1940s and Dr. Ludwig Guttmann.

Known as the “father of the Paralympics,” Guttmann, a prominent German Jewish neurosurgeon had the connections to escape Nazi Germany with his wife and children, settling in Oxford, England in 1939. Due to an influx of veterans with spinal cord injuries sustained during World War II, the British government put Dr. Guttmann in charge of a unit for veterans with paraplegia on the grounds of Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 1944.

Guttmann took up his new post with great enthusiasm. According to a history compiled by the British Paralympic Association, the doctor “fundamentally disagreed with the commonly held medical view on a paraplegic patient's future and felt it essential to restore hope and self-belief in his patients as well practical re-training so when they were well enough to leave they could once more contribute to society."

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Politicians Take Heed: People with Disabilities are a hugely important voting bloc!

Is it our imagination or are people with disabilities receiving more attention from politicians this election season? From the Republican and Democratic conventions where both parties included speakers and performers with disabilities, to more muscular efforts to make voting accessible to individuals with disabilities, at long last, politicians and those working to get them elected are finally recognizing the power and size of this important group of voters. That’s not to say that the job is done. Far from it.

The Numbers
According to RespectAbility, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded in 2013, that works “to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities … America has 56 million people with disabilities, comprising the largest minority group in America, and the only one that, due to an accident or illness, anyone can join at any time.” That’s powerful! In addition, says RespectAbility, “35.4 million people with disabilities will be eligible to vote in the November 2016 elections, representing close to one-sixth of the total electorate. That’s an increase of nearly 11 percent since 2008.”

Despite the prevalence of disability among eligible voters, statistics show that voters with disabilities have historically been less likely to vote. In a white paper she authored for the Presidential Commission on Election Administration in 2013,” Lisa Shur, J.D., Ph.D, found “that there would be 3.0 million more voters with disabilities if they voted at the same rate as otherwise-similar people without disabilities.” Obviously, the voices of too many Americans are not being heard.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Seven Tips for An Accessible and Happy Halloween

It’s the rare child who doesn’t look forward to celebrating Halloween. Children with disabilities are no exception. Depending on the issues presented by your child’s disability you may need to come up with some creative ideas to make the most of the holiday. We’ve surfed the web to find the best advice for making your Halloween fun and accessible.

1. Be creative!
Now six years old, Elena Walke, daughter of Easter Seal’s blogger, Bernhard Walke, was born with quadriplegic cerebral palsy. As a very little girl, Elena was unable to sit up on her own. That didn’t prevent her father and mother from making sure Elena celebrated Halloween in style. Since Elena needed to be held, her parents dressed up as chefs, and carried Elena, who was wearing a bright red lobster costume, around the neighborhood in a giant pot!

2. Incorporate the wheelchair
If your child uses a wheelchair, make it an important part of his costume. Cinderellas can ride door to door in beautifully decorated coaches, and Batmans’ wheelchairs can be transformed into bat-mobiles! For more great ideas on wheelchair decorating, visit Magic a nonprofit started by Ryan and Lana Weimer, parents of five children, three of whom have spinal muscular atrophy.