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Six Neck and Head Support Options for your Child

Many children live with disabilities which result in weak muscle tone and control, which can lead to difficulty in holding the head up straight and as a parent or carer it’s understandable you probably want to anything to help. Hypotonia in the neck and other parts of the body is known to be a symptom of many disabilities including cerebral palsy and many other neurological conditions.

Finding the right head and neck support is not something anyone should do without the advice and guidance of a professional, but we thought it was definitely worth looking at the options out there, as you may find something your healthcare team hasn’t yet come across. Below are six different head and neck support products on the market.

Rifton Activity Chair

Rifton Activity Chair Head Support

Rifton Activity Chair

The Rifton Activity Chair is described as a clinical positioning chair with an additional head rest is a great choice for environments such as schools and therapy centres where the chair isn’t in full time use. The head rests are contoured to provide support and comfort simultaneously and it can be adjusted from front to back and up and down. The chair is described as great for speech therapy, feeding and also for its versatility for use for a wide range of other activities.

Find out more here http://www.rifton.com/products/special-needs-chairs/rifton-activity-chairs

GoTo Seat

The GoTo Seat is a postural support which is designed for children between 1 and 5, with two different sizes available. The larger model for older children has an adjustable headrest as well as strong back support and leg supports and can be attached to any regular seat (with a back) allowing inclusion in family meals, days out and more. The GoTo Seat can even be attached to a supermarket trolley or bicycle seat, as this video shows:

Find out more about the Goto seat here http://www.fireflyfriends.com/goto-seat

Snuggin Go Too

The Snuggin Go Too Head Support

The Snuggin Go Too Head Support

We’ve chatted about the Snuggin Go before as it’s a product which really works. Rather than being a whole seat or whole seat support it is a simple memory foam based product which fits comfortably around the neck and shoulders of your child. It’s designed for children aged up to 5 and provides the extra support they may need, avoiding slumping which can lead to discomfort.

Snuggin Go Too is not readily available in the UK but can sometimes be found on Amazon >> Snuggin Go Too Child Positioner, Black by Snuggie

Chill Out Chair

Two large foam chairs with footstools, on in orange one in purple

The Chill-out chair

There are no straps or restraints with the Chill Out Chair, as the company behind this product cite dignity and comfort as their two key reasons for opting for their chair. They have a patented deep V design which removes the needs for straps and the body can relax comfortably whilst being supported. It can be designed in a wide range of different colours and materials to suit the needs of the individual and more than that, find a fabric that suits for children who have sensory processing difficulties. There are also a range of accessories including trays but of course your Trabasack would work wonderfully too.

We are looking for UK stockists, please let me know if you find one. The US site is here http://chill-outchair.com/

Headpod

The Headpod is a tried and tested design which has been specifically designed for hypotonia of the neck muscles. Headpod helps to build the neck muscles and reach the point where the hypotonia is much less pronounced or even a thing of the past. It’s a system which works through creating a vertical and natural positioning of the head through a supportive brace worn to the head. As this video shows it can make a huge difference to the wearer and help their neck develop over a period of time:

Again, it is the type of item which you should discuss with your care team or occupational therapist to see whether it would be a good choice for your child. The head pod website is here http://www.headpod.com/

Tumble Forms Feeder Seat

As the name suggests the Tumble Forms Seat by NRS Healthcare was initially designed for feeding but it can be used for a wide range of purposes. It benefits from being plastic so easy to clean and is designed to be used with their floor sitter wedge. For short-term upright activity it provides all the support needed and is very easy to assemble and carry. They are on Amazon and available from our friends at Mobility Choices

Get some professional advice

There are many other head and neck supports on the market and it is important you find the one which suits your child best but these are a good example of what’s out there and perhaps something to mention at your next appointment!

Toy Buying Guide for Disabled Children

Toy Buying Guide for Disabled Children

There are many things to take into consideration when you’re buying toys for disabled children, including their personal capabilities and the specification of the toy in question. We have previously talked about making  your own sensory toys, but what are the questions to ask when buying them?

Is the toy multisensory?
Does it flash, make noise or offer different textures? Does it have a unique scent or structure?

Can the toy be activated easily?
Will your child be able to play with the toy independently? Is it easy to trigger?

Does the toy appeal?
Does it tie-in with popular TV shows or characters?  Is it something children can relate to?

Is the toy age appropriate?
Is it designed for the right age group? Does it fit both mentally and physically with your child’s abilities and age

Does the toy allow for self-expression?
Is it designed to allow for creativity and decision making? Does it give your child chance to encounter different media sources?

These are just a few points you need to consider as well as adjustability and durability too.

Sensory Toys for Disabled Children

Flashing, Musical Tambourine

Sensory toys appeal to many of the body’s sense and are great for disabled children who may rely on some senses more than others. Sensory toys can be designed to focus on a single sense such as sight or sound but often aim to trigger responses from a few. Pictured is a fun flashing tambourine, which both flashes and makes musical noises and is a great example of a sensory toy. Others include fun bubble machines and colourful flashing toys such as this Colour Changing Egg.

Switch Toys for Disabled Children

Inflatable Switch-Adapted R2D2

Children who require some assistance with accessing toys can use specialised switches. Switches mean that toys become easily accessible and fun to use. Switch adapted toys can be purchased from specialist retailers in most instances and allow regular toys to be enjoyed by children with disabilities. We’ve recently see switch adapted talking teddies and bongo drums as well as this fantastic switch adapted inflatable R2D2 (pictured). Locating switch-adapted toys can be more difficult than others but they’re worth the additional work for the increased usability and entertainment factors.

If your child uses switches, you may want to visit Switchmounting.com to get a free pdf guide to using switches for sensory play, gaming and communication.

Musical Toys for Disabled Children

Soft Chime Garden Sensory Toy

Musical toys are great fun for children of any age and although they might drive parents a little crazy, it’s more than worth it for the smiles and laughter they create. The range of accessible musical toys on the market is vast, whether children can use them independently or with support. We recommend this fab Conga Drum and Rainbomaker. Pictured is the charming Lamaze Soft Chime Garden which is popular with children of all ages and makes a range of different musical sounds with the slightest touch. It works very well with the trabasack media mount as it can be held at different angles for different children’s needs.

Trabasack for Toys

Your Trabasack lap tray is the perfect surface for accessing musical, sensory and switch toys for disabled children. As the photographs show it can be used for a range of different toys and

Trabasack Curve, Media Mount and Dinosaur Toy

the Trabasack Media Mount is perfect for holding toys in the ideal position to maximise play and entertainment value.

 

Trabasack Xmas Special Bundle Offer

We’re pleased to announce we’re currently offering a Curve Connect bundle deal, perfect for use as a sensory play tray with all the accessories you need including a Media Mount, non-slip mat and additional hook tapes for securing toys in place, at £44.95, this saves over £30 on the usual price of all the items combined and will help your child enjoy more from their toys this xmas!

Click for more info on using the Trabasack Media Mount as a Toy Holder

Flying with a Disabled Child.

Travelling with Disabled Children

Having a disabled child or children shouldn’t inhibit your family’s opportunities to holiday and get away from it all. More often than not though, people do find it difficult to travel when they have a child who is living with a disability. Whether your child is a wheelchair user or has a learning disability that is considered ‘invisible’ travelling for holiday purposes can be really difficult and in some instances seem like more trouble than its worth.

This doesn’t need to be the case and we’ve got together some tips which you should consider if planning to travel in the UK or abroad with your whole family.

Before you Travel

Before you travel there are many preparations you can make. You could consider booking your trip through an agency who specialises in disabled travel, this is an option most suitable to those travelling with wheelchair users. In most instances regular travel agencies have little or no experience of disability travel and won’t be able to think of everything. The planning stage of your trip will take a lot of research and your holiday itinerary will need to be detailed and specific. It may seem like a military operation but it will result in a smoother journey in the long run.

Before you travel you should also talk to any medical professionals involved in your children’s care. They will be able to advise to a point if they believe your child is ready for such a break and can give you specialist advice relating to their condition if needed. You can also top up on any prescription medication required.

Preparing your child is another point to consider. Every child and their condition is obviously different and only you know how your child will react. Children on the autistic spectrum for example may need a lot of notice and reminders so they are able to handle the change and enjoy the experience.

Key Considerations

You will need to consider a wide range of things which could impact on your ability to travel. Consider the assistance you may need and ensure you contact your airline or travel provider. Cover all specialised elements of your child’s condition such as dietary requirements and medications.

You will also need to think about specialist equipment you may need upon a flight and below we’re looking more closely at the MERU TravelChair and how this can revolutionise travelling with young wheelchair users.

Thinking again of medical information – you should double check the locations of the nearest emergency medical facilities from your holiday home to ensure easy access if the worst were to happen. Not knowing will only cause more panic and make the holiday much more stressful.

Depending upon the disabilities of your child or children you may need to check your travel insurance covers you all adequately. In some instances you may need to purchase specialist insurance to cover all of your child’s needs.

Meru TravelChair for Wheelchairs Users

At Trabasack, we realise the worry of booking a flight when you have a disabled child. We also like to highlight the work of others to create a more inclusive and accessible world and with that in mind, we’d like to introduce the TravelChair.

Flying with a disabled child the travelchair

TravelChair Logo

Tackling the Worry of Flying with a Disabled Child

The TravelChair is a product developed by the children’s charity MERU, who campaign and work towards improving the lives of children and young adults with disabilities by designing and producing custom-made equipment that can aid independent living and support daily activities at home, at school and in the community. The TravelChair is just one product from MERU and it’s a development which could make a huge change to air travel for children with disabilities, making it both more accessible and more enjoyable.

At present, very few children with disabilities in the UK have had the opportunity to travel abroad due to what MERU describe as ‘perceived limited options of additional support in the chair when travelling on planes’. To combat this problem, MERU have developed and created the one-of-a-kind chair for supporting children with disabilities during a flight. The TravelChair fits easily into a standard airline seat and in the past few years, MERU say it has meant over 1,000 children with severe disabilities have been able to experience the holidays of a lifetime. The TravelChair (formerly known as the AirChair) is currently available on Virgin Atlantic and Monarch Airways flights and was developed with advice and input from parents of children with disabilities, airlines themselves and also the Civil Aviation Authority.

Travel chair for flying with a child with special needs

The TravelChair installed in an airline seat

The TravelChair itself is a very lightweight and easy to carry design which fits easily into all airline seats and if you were to travel with Virgin Atlantic, the cabin crew are also trained to fit the sit for you if you need assistance. It is designed for children around three to nine and provides full postural support. Some of its main features include both waist and head support, shoulder restraints, optional pommel strap and an adjustable height leg rest. Despite being extremely robust and secure, the it is also comfortable and is designed specifically for children, providing them with the full body support they may require. Other aeroplane support options are often ‘one size fits all’ which is often unsuitable for children, being too large or small, the TravelChair is different.

It is a brilliant development that is making a huge difference to childrens’ lives and giving children with severe disabilities a chance to experience foreign travel like everybody else.

For more info about the Travelchair visit MERU website here

special chair insert for fyling with disabled children

The Travel Chair pictured at Naidex

We also have a free guide available containing information about grants, holidays and agencies for travelling with a disabled person. If you would like a copy, please sign up here and it will be sent by email.

UPDATE from OT Expert Site and NAIDEX SOUTH 2012

The Travel Chair was seen at Naidex South 2012 and Meru’s Anna-Stina was interviewed about the flight chair by the OT Expert site. The interview can be heard on the link, but an edited transcript follows:

“Meru is launching a ‘try before you fly’ service so that parents of disabled children who need postural support can try the Travel Chair before flying.  We are hoping that the airlines will buy them and Virgin has already ordered them. Parents can also buy them. We are offering a service where parents can try out the chair in situ in a fuselage that looks like an aeroplane and you can walk between the aisles and experience the tightness of the seats. You can actually find out “will this chair suit my child?”.

We were approached at Meru by Virgin, Monarch and British Airways one and a half years ago to design a seat that suit disabled children. They wanted a seat that would provide postural support to disabled children while flying.  10 years ago, Meru had created a seat for British Airways, the Travel Chair Mk1, so it was a good opportunity to revisit it. It has been carefully redesigned and we have done extensive research, finding out from disabled children what their requirements and needs are, we now have the finished product for sale to individuals and charities for £2500.

Civil Aviation Authority Safety Notice

You will also find some more useful facts about the use, weight and storage information of the chair on the CAA website. There is a safety document from the Civil Aviation Authority for aircraft companies and passengers about the chair here.

Video about the Meru Travel Chair

Below you can see Graham Race (TravelChair Designer – MERU) speaking at the Hamburg Aircraft Interiors Expo about the TravelChair.

As you Travel

When you’re travelling the equipment you keep on you needs to be minimal to make the journey as easy as possible. Keep all your regular travel information on your person including tickets, passports and relevant paraphernalia. Also keep a copy of the most pertinent information about your child’s condition to hand in case of emergencies and the same goes for any emergency medications.

Travel isn’t all about the admin though, be prepared to enjoy it. Stock up your child’s travel bag with their favourite snacks and games and ensure reminders of home are present to keep them comfortable.

If you’re travelling by car you should also factor in breaks to ensure no one gets overwhelmed and you are able to enjoy your journey as much as possible.

Holidays for Children with Autism

Preparing for a holiday with children on the autistic spectrum takes considerable effort and as well as all the above points you may need to be discerning with your choice of destination. There are several holidays across Europe which have been adapted especially for Autism families to ensure the whole family have a fantastic experience.

Happy Kids Holidays for example rents ASD-friendly cottages in France and the chance to prepare for the break with personalised social stories and online chats so your child can get to know their environment before they arrive.

There are also breaks in the UK which include specialised Autism-friendly sessions such as horse riding lessons at Coworth Park in Berkshire which also incorporates sensory play.

Have a Happy Holiday

Travelling with children with disabilities can be hard-going and even arriving at your destination can be difficult with children who find change hard to cope with. There are ways and means though and we hope our points give you a further opportunity to explore what’s available and take the step to introducing your child to new experiences. It’s great for the family as a whole too.

Introducing the new Trabasack Media Mount

The Trabasack team are extremely pleased and excited to announced the launch of their product, the Media Mount

:

The Media Mount is an extremely versatile and multifunctional mounting device that makes using your Trabasack play tray with your children even easier and it can even make your Trabasack an even better play tray than it was before. Despite being completely brand new, it’s already drawing in interest from Trabasaxons who have only positive things to say and it is an accessory for your Trabasack that one fan describes as ‘an excellent product, multi-functional & well thought out. It adds further functionality to the original Trabasack Connect without adding extra weight to it.’ With comments like this it’s clear to see the team can be proud of their new product and its place in the product range.

A Quick Look at the Media Mount

A young Trabasaxon using the Media Mount as an iPad support

The Media Mount holding a Skoog securely

When reading the name, you might wonder how the Media Mount can be of use to you and your child for your Trabasack Sensory Play Tray. However, as mentioned, this product is extremely versatile and flexible and can be used in a number of ways. Designed to mount any device from an iPad to a musical Skoog (both pictured) you can see how the Media Mount holds these items perfectly in place for use by your child, with or without support. The  Media Mount is made of hook and loop receptive material and is equipped with a velcro strip alongside so it fits closely to your Trabasack’s Connect Surface. What’s more the grab handles are large and make manoeuvring and positioning the new accessory even more straight forward.

The Media Mount and your Sensory Play Tray

Incorporating the Media Mount into your sensory play time is very easy and it can be a great of ensuring more enjoyment and development can be had whilst enjoying the session. For example, the Media Mount can act as a barrier at the edge of your Trabasack ensuring the hand positioning and movement is kept to the specific tray area or it can be used to held a particular object in place so it can be used more easily.

If you’re using bottles as music makers for example, you could position them securely with the Media Mount and then enjoy the play time without worrying about them going missing or being knocked over. Every day our customers are coming up with new uses for the Media Mount and as its been produced under the Design for All concept, we are sure that it can be manipulated for whatever particular needs you have in mind.

We’ve received positive feedback from Technical Specialist for SpecialEffect Charity and founder of OneSwitch.co.uk, Barrie Ellis who described it as a ‘brilliant implementation, I really love it’ and we agree completely with his comments and believe you could use your Media Mount in any number of ways to enhance and enjoy sensory play time.

At £19.95 it is a low cost way of mounting switches and special education toys, please send us your pics for a free gift!

HappyPee – a user-friendly potty training and travel aid

HappyPee – the friendly potty training and travel aid

HappyPee is ergonically designed with kids in mind

We like to help and support other retailers with the same aims and values as ourselves. Disabledgear.com is a social enterprise that helps people resell and recycle expensive disability equipment to those who need it.

Guy also imports new products that people cannot get find elsewhere. HappyPee is one such product requested on a facebook forum for Special Needs Equipment. HappyPee is a unisex portable potty training aid. This portable urinal is a great invention for when your child is first learning how to control their bladder and understand how toileting works.

HappyPee is designed to be funny and entertaining to help aid the potty training process and to support your child in their potty training adventure. The funny cartoon design is included to help children enjoy the learning experience involved in toilet training, rather than feeling anxious or scared about the experience. It is a huge milestone in their development and whatever age they are, it’s important to keep pressure and stress away from the situation. It’s a great tool for supporting your child with additional needs if they’re caught short or in a situation where it isn’t suitable to use the regular toilet.

The other great thing about HappyPee is that it’s portable, meaning you can keep one in your car to avoid little accidents in case of emergencies. When your children are young it can be unsettling and stressful to use public toilets, which can also be unsanitary, therefore a HappyPee can be a great way of keeping the stress levels down. Its concertina design means it can be folded down for easy storage and another plus point is that your child can use their HappyPee in the car which also protects their privacy.

HappyPee's fun factor making potty training less pressurised

The HappyPee Portable Urinal may look like a males-only product but this isn’t the case. It was ergonomically designed with girls in mind too so all children should be able to use it with ease. So if you have ever had the stressful experience of the kids being ‘caught short’ stuck on the motorway, then you will know what we mean! To purchase, just pop over to buy a Happypee portable urinal at DisabledGear.com and place your order. You will also be helping to support the DisabledGear.com free listings for 2nd hand disability equipment, a great social enterprise that reuses and recycles.

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Snuggin Go Too – the versatile support for your child.

Snuggin Go Too – the versatile support for your child.

The Snuggin Go Too in Action

If you have a child who suffers from health conditions or a disability which means they have difficulty holding their head up, Snuggin Go Too is the answer. Our friend and online retailer DisabledGear.com has decided to import this product after demand from parents on a Special Needs Equipment Swap Group on Facebook.

The Snuggin Go Too, a new product for the UK market, is an extremely supportive infant positioner. As the picture shows, the Snuggin Go Too is designed to support your child’s head in position to stop them from slumping forward, which can be extremely dangerous for disabled children. Trabasack creator’s Duncan and Clare Edwards have a son with Dravet Syndrome, and this ‘slumping’ often caused thier son to have seizures.

With the Snuggin Go Too your child’s head is supported fully which allows for improved posture, comfort, safety and of course, breathing.

It may look like a simple design but in fact the Snuggin Go Too is very intricately designed to support your individual child. Its memory foam neck and shoulder support system glides in a way which allows customisation to your child’s height and it also gently pushes the chest area forward which allows the head to sit neutrally in any chosen seating product including high chairs and car seats. The Snuggin Go Too is also the only infant positioning support which comes with an optional leg rest which can be beneficial in stopping your child from slouching or slipping down their seat.

Before and After shots show exactly how much benefit the Snuggin Go Too provides

The Snuggin Go Too is fully adjustable for children from 12 months up to 5 years which means it can be great for older children with additional needs. It is especially beneficial for children with a range of different health problems and conditions. If your child has airway difficulties, this support is essential as it works to keep your child’s airway in the neutral position. It is also supports children with scoliosis as it can help improve the position of the spine which in turn can help to minimise the respiratory problems that come from extreme spinal curvature. Further lumbar support can be added for those who also have lower spine curvature.

The Snuggin Go Too is also a great option for children who favour holding their head to one particular side (torticollis). The head support keeps the head cradles securely which helps maintain its shape and reduces risk of flat spots (plagiocephaly). It can also be used for children who wear reshaping helmets or who have conditions such as hydrocephalus to support their head position when they’re using seating products.

The Snuggin Go Too is a great way of involving your child in all family meal and fun times. You can use it in the high chair so you can comfortably and securely enjoy meals together and retro-fit strollers are available for children who are wheelchair dependent.

The item is extremely user friendly and can make a big difference to your child’s daily life. It is available in two colours from DisabledGear.com , Snuggin Go Too infant head support will really help the comfort of your child.

This video shows how easy your Snuggin Go Too is to clean and reassemble:

Using Hook Tape with your Trabasack

Using Hook Tape with your Trabasack

A pack of four 30cms hook tapes

Trabasack Hook tapes, 120cms of tape, excellent value.

There are many great uses for your Trabasack and when you’re using it for sensory play or as an entertainment mount for your child’s toys and consoles, you must make use of the fantastic hook tapes which you can buy from the Trabasack website.

If you are the owner of a Trabasack with Connect surface, you’ll already be aware that the soft tray top means you can easily secure devices to it without having to worry about them sliding off. The easiest and safest way of connecting toys and devices to your Trabasack is with Trabasack’s own hook tape.

Why use hook tapes?

Hook tape is basically like Velcro and comes with stick on backing. You get 120cms of self adhesive backed tape, in four handy 30cms lengths. With hook tapes you can secure any device to your Trabasack Connect surface and it’ll remain safe. If your child is a film fan, you can safely secure their DVD player, if you’ve put together a fantastic sensory play scenario, again, you can use hook tapes to ensure all elements stay safe and in place.

Travelling securely with your Trabasack using Hook Tapes

Hook tape is like rough velcro tape

Sensory toys attached with rough velcro tape

Hook tape is great for when you’re out and about because you can secure whatever entertainment device your child wants to play with safely to the tray top and it’ll remain safe as you go over lumps and bumps and even remains in place if you go up and down ramps on and off buses and trains.

The hook tapes can also be great if your child uses their Trabasack in school. Where portable computers, switches and communication aids are used they can easily be stuck into place and used easily throughout the school day and simply removed at the end of it.

The great thing about the Trabasack Connect is its versatility and this versatility is improved tenfold if you make use of fantastic hook tapes whether you’re playing, relaxing or learning.

Buy Trabasack on Amazon:
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