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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Strollers for the growing special needs / autistic child

I started this blog in October 2012. Based on where we are in telling Dovi's story, we've almost come full circle. I have only 3 or so months of material before we hit October - and nothing of note has happened since then, aside from what I've thrown out between the lines. I'm also reluctant and leery to keep this blog open as a present journal; my focus here was to help out other parents of special needs children, specifically autistic ones like Dovi, with our resources and ideas and product reviews. So while I'm not closing the blog soon nor stopping to write, I am definitely winding down with material left to tell.

But there are still two major purchases I made this year (besides for the incredible Pedicraft bed) that I would like to talk about, and after that, I will reexamine the future of the blog.

For now, I'll pick up the thread of the narrative in August of last year.

Crocs, Inc.

Ask any parent of an autistic child which time of the year causes them to quiver more than any other. Chances are the answer will be the August school intersession. In particular, Dovi falls between the cracks; there is one intersession Respite program in my area, and they continuously refuse to accept Dovi. The past two years the reason was that he was not yet age-eligible, and that made sense; their program starts at 5. But even for this coming summer, they're kind of hesitating, as Dovi is not easy to handle and they don't know if they'll be able to hire someone appropriate for him. they're asking me to find a counselor for him. Much easier said than done. It's notoriously impossible to find someone who just happens not to be working nor away at summer camp for that intersession month. But anyway, last summer, it was up to me find enough girls to take Dovi out for the majority of the day. Boy was it a job. I placed ads in circulars, interviewed dozens of girls, and with HaShem's help, I put together a pretty good roster of counselors. One incredible girl - a high school girl! took him every day from 9:30 to 12:30, then I had to figure out a way to keep Dovi occupied and out of the cabinets and closets until a day camp counselor came at 3:30 for a couple of hours. The girls kept rotating, and Dovi did not behave his greatest; he was coming off a summer of outdoor fun and had trouble getting used to the more 'locked-in' city mode. I inflated a pool for him on the porch and let him splash and have fun. It was a lot of heavy physical work though, and it was very draining. I breathed a sigh of immense relief when school finally resumed and Dovi very happily went off to TABAC every day in his white ambulette. He eased in very quickly, and I was extremely pleased with his new therapy team, as well as his large, airy room with a window which he loved to look out from. I was hopeful that his second year of TABAC would be a year of growth instead of breakthrough - and indeed, I am grateful to HaShem that it certainly has been. He is a different child compared to a year ago.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Because we had been away for 7 weeks, our home health aide case had been closed, and we needed to reopen it. I debated asking for someone else instead of Leticia, because her constant lateness and considerable laziness were annoying. But she and Dovi get along amazingly and I was not in the mood of getting used to someone new - it can sometimes take weeks of trial and error to find the right person - so I decided at first to ask for her back - she wanted to come back. Dovi ran into her arms delightedly, and she seemed to have turned over a new leaf. Of course, two days later she was back to her usual way of operating, and I had to concede that you really can't have everything in a helper or homecare worker. At least she did a fabulous job with Dovi, and I had to overlook all the negatives.

With in a week of Leticia's return she had a new request: Dovi needed a new stroller. I was taken aback; I had gotten a gorgeous, brand new denim MacLaren stroller as a gift from my friends on Thanksgiving Day 2011. It wasn't even a year old yet - why did she think we needed a new stroller?

Well, because Dovi kept climbing out. In truth, at age 4 he had certainly outgrown his MacLaren Quest. But there were ways to keep him seated - with the Brica Harness, reinforcers, behavior management - plenty of choices. But Leticia insisted he needed a new stroller.
It was a huge problem.

I don't like the special needs strollers that older children use. They're huge, bulky, and scream 'special needs'. Dovi is not physically handicapped and he doesn't need the supports and gizmos the special needs strollers offer. Plus, they are exorbitant and not always covered by Medicaid.

I started doing my research. Were Dovi on the small side, I could probably get away with buying a Mountain Buggy or a Baby Jogger. But I tried out my neighbor's, and Dovi did not fit. That left me with basically the Mclaren or Convaid, both of which looked too bulky and 'special need'y. (Though if I look now, on that same link there is a really nice Baby Jogger I couldve looked more into. Anyway.)

I hit paydirt when deeper searching led me to the Special tomato pushchair. It looks like a regular stroller, goes up to 80 pounds and defintely fit Dovi's dimensions. A more detailed look into the stroller can be found at Adaptive Mall, where I ended up buying the stroller.

The stroller is a hit. Dovi loves sitting in it, it's comfortable, and definitely easier to push than the old MacLaren Quest. Being little Houdini, he has figured out how to escape from this stroller too, but he doesnt do it as often as with the mclaren. It's a little bulky and difficult to fold though, and therefore we use it only for walking trips and not car trips, although it's excellent on the subway. He actually walks nicely - with his therapists, with his father, with the Shabbos girls - but we usually use the stroller more for safety and portability. I don't know what I'll do next year in his new school - it's too big and unwieldy to send along every day, and I can't ask his Res Hab girls to walk back with him to my house every evening without a stroller. I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

The main thing is that Dovi is happy in it.


  1. i know this has nothing to do with your post, but i have to say he is one gorgeous little boy.. b'ah.

    1. Thanks :). He's actually not very photogenic in this picture, and he's unnaturally dark skinned from 2 months upstate...

  2. I've looked every where for an email to contact you but couldn't find one. I need to talk to you about an older blog on tent beds. My email is if you would please drop me a line I'd be greatful!

  3. I need to talk to you about an older blog on tent beds. Could you please email me at thanks!

  4. Thank you so much for the info! It helps so much in trying to find a stroller that isn't sooo bulky. still looking, but thanks for the info. God Bless

  5. Thank you so much for the info! It helps so much in trying to find a stroller that isn't sooo bulky. still looking, but thanks for the info. God Bless

  6. bookmarked!!, I love your site!


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