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These tips have all been sent in by other parents, carers and professionals in the learning disability community. We hope they will give you plenty of ideas to try, but please remember Netbuddy is not responsible for the information provided or any of the activities suggested.
When using the hoist, we always count out loud the number of loops to attach and straps to unclip. It helps the person be prepared to move, and makes sure we don't forget anything
Cheap writing slope
I've been looking for a writing slope for Sam for ages but didn't want to pay £40+. I finally found one in Ikea for £3.50. It's meant for a laptop, but does the job!
MyOwnFone is an easy to use mobile phone which a carer can have set up / customised for the person they are looking after. It allows them to call from between 2 and 12 pre defined numbers which are accessed from a single screen.
Pimp my ride!
We made our son's wheelchair look a bit different by buying some plain black spoke guards on amazon for £30 and decorating with decal stickers (designed for customising cars) from eBay. There's loads to choose from. They've lasted great and look pretty cool too!
Sky provide free remote controls that are easier for people with disabilities to use, one has bigger buttons with bumps on, the other one has a strap on the back so it's easier to hold. Just ring customer services and they send them to you.
Keep chair coveredWe fold up disposable waterproof mats and put them onto Liam's wheelchair, so if his pad leaks we don't have to wash his chair cover.
Just how I roll!
Big soft toys like this child's sausage cushion are a fun and cheap alternative to foam rolls or cushions for positional support
I bought something called a dripstick from the Baby Show a couple of years ago. Its a chunky plastic holder for ice lollies and ice creams that catches all the drips. Its perfect for my older daughter who has limited hand use as well as severe learning disabilities. They are easy to pick up on eBay.
We use a hydrant to enable our non verbal adult son with CP to drink whenever he wants to, not when we think he should. Its great - he doesn't have to handle anything. We fix the bottle to his wheelchair so that the straw is near to his mouth and he can get to it independently
Baby wipes cost a small fortune and we get through thousands! Amazon have a 'subscribe and save' feature, that delivers a box regularly, it works out at about 75p per pack.
Jazz it up!
Make harnesses look more funky by using furry seatbelt covers or guitar strap accessories. Or look around for interesting patches, motifs and badges
Think laterally when shopping for equipment. For example a large key keyboard might cost over £100 from a special needs supplier, but a similar product would cost around £25 from a more general trade company such as www.cpc.co.uk
Don't get rid of your old raincover/hood from your old buggy. When my son went into a wheelchair we fitted the hood onto it with a few screws - it fits perfect.
Voucher for hire
Wheelchair service vouchers can now be used to hire, rather than just purchase, a wheelchair. This means insurance, servicing and repars would be covered in the cost. Ask your local wheelchair services rep for more info.
Borrow equipmentIf you need equipment ask your school/college or day centre if you can borrow equipment from them, rather than hiring it.
I've found some excellent special needs aids on the maudesport website. The massive Sensory ball is fantastic. Great sensory input, it can be used both to calm and release energy.
Custom designed equipment/aids
I came across Demand which is a charity who custom design and make specialist equipment - all very useful stuff if you can't find what you need. They have a good second hand section on their website where there is some good equipment available reasonably priced.
Tailor made specialist equipment
Remap a charity working across the UK to supply unique pieces of special equipment tailor-made by volunteer experts and given free to people who need them.
Screen blockerRestricting TV time can be an issue for people with learning disabilities. We found a screen blocker very effective. TV times were controlled by the device rather than our nagging. We only needed ours for a month amazingly and the rules were accepted.
Tough Furniture does exactly what it says on the tin. There are also other solutions, like window protectors for people who might otherwise climb out or post things out! http://www.independentliving.co.uk/tough/furniture.html
Telephone photo dial pad
Such a great idea, I found this on the www.fledglings.org.uk website and love it. Its a pad with 6 photo buttons, press the the pircture of the person you want to contact and it dials the telephone number you have preprogrammed.
Time Tracker DeviceI want to recommend a Time Tracker Device - Autistic Visual Aid.
A bright visual electronic timer and clock. Easily programmed so that coloured lights and unique sound effects alert them to the passage of time and time remaining. Features 180° viewing, volume control and pause feature. Many uses for home, school & play...we currently use it so that I can talk to people on the school run or at hospital appointment as our son wants 24/7 attention and does not like me talking to anyone except him!
Transit seatWe have a transit seat which can be purchased for around £100. It makes transferring Beth on/off the plane and rides much easier. It is also good for use around the house. Ask your local OT to help you find a good one.
It's useful to have a foldable buggy or wheelchair for when you have to use an ordinary car. The Zippy wheelchair folds.
Supportive booster seatMy daughter has cerebral palsy and for ages had difficulty in sitting up. We liked to eat out but it meant we either nursed her in our lap or she sat in a stroller. Then I found the Safety 1st recline and grow booster seat that reclined because she couldn't sit in the highchairs in restaurants and our lives changed. She was a lot happier too. When her head control improved we got her a bumbo (moulded seat) and she could finally play in the sand-pit by herself.
A double buggy that takes the weight
We struggled to get a double buggy for our special needs son 5, and his newborn brother. Most buggy manufacturers expect children to be walking by age 3 so don’t give enough leg room or weight allowance to carry an older child. We found a double buggy made in the US called Baby Jogger (we found an online baby shop that imported it into the UK). Each seat has a 50 pound weight allowance, there is plenty of leg room for my older son. The Baby Jogger also do single pushchairs for older special needs kids - we will be looking into that soon when we outgrow this one.
Consider the carer too
When buying specialist equipment (bath aids etc) ensure that it also suits the carer, because carers are not all the same height, are not weight lifters or have the ability to unscrew bolts with their bare fingers!!; If the equipment doesn’t work for the carer it just won’t get used, so make sure it suits everybody.
Personalise those aids
Fed up of aids and adaptions always being boring grey? Paint them with acrylic paint in any colour you choose. This works very well with crutches, walking sticks etc – makes them much more individual.
Universal rain coverFor any one who has a Maclaren Major Buggy and wants a rain cover. Argos do a Universal rain cover for £16.99 that fits it fine and you don't need a canopy to use it.
Remote control switches
For people who have difficulty operating switches or who have mobility issues, try remote control operated power sockets and light switches. These are often sold as "eco" solutions or standby savers, but can make life easier for people who find getting up to turn the TV off etc difficult.
If you have items to sell like a special needs trike or you can't afford to buy new, www.DisabledGear.com is a free-Ads website for buying and selling 2nd hand disability equipment. It's really easy to use and clearly laid out.
If your child has some mobility problems than use a 'didi car' or similar instead of a trike/bike when they are little. It's great fun as they use their bodies to go.
You can buy a small foldaway ramp if you have a step to traverse with a buggy/wheelchair.
Use a slide sheet for moving a person on the bed or on the floor
Find it on Ebay....
Did you know that there are many shops on ebay selling autism and special needs resources, such as symbol cards, handmade visual supports and sensory toys? Just put ‘autism’ in the search box and start shopping!
My daughter, who has autism, is extremely fidgety. I've bought her a gym ball, which she loves. We keep it in the living room and she bounces and rolls on it pretty much constantly. I recommend one for exercise and keeping out of mischief.
Slankets for kids
Did you know you can now get slankets for kids ? I think they will be great for people in wheelchairs.
My daughter is unable to sit unaided and we were provided with a Floor Sitter which has been really helpful, especially for taking to the beach in the summer. It is available from Benefits Now and other websites.
If you are looking for cheap sand timers – which are a great visual aid – I have found a really good website that sells them very reasonably (from 95p upwards). Sandtimers
Protac Ball Blanket
The Protac Ball Blanket is ideal for children with Autism, ADHD & ASD. The weight of the loose balls help to provide a point pressure, providing a feeling of calm and security. Kingkraft loan out the blanket for you to 'try before you buy. www.kingkraft.co.uk
Ask your OT for a buggy
If you have problems with days out and crowds, and your child getting tired and anxious, ask your Occupational Therapist who can supply a large maclaren buggy so you have a stress-free day out. The buggy is given out on loan till you need the next size up and will save you buying your own.
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