Sunday, February 22, 2015

The TabletTable

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Noah recently had an opportunity to trial a new product that is still in development called the TabletTable.  It is a platform that sits securely on a flat surface that allows someone who has special needs use their IPad better.   Many children like Noah have difficulties using their IPad even with secure stands because they tend to knock it over or move it while attempting to use the device.  Something that is very frustrating and often times upsetting for the child when they are working so hard to use a device.

When it first arrived I was a bit skeptical of it.  I didn't particularly find it super special on first glance.  It is a simple product.  A platform and a black mat to hold the IPad in place.   I was a tad disappointed that I had to remove Noah's IPad case to insert it.  Noah has a Griffin Survivor Case, which is tricky to remove frequently, but a necessary case because of Noah's high tone and tendency to be rough on it. I also wasn't too sure of the fixed angle of the platform, originally I had hoped that it would be adjustable in height and not fixed.   I would also like a future model that has a way to carry it, or that it will come with a carrying case to transport it easier from place to place.

I knew the only way I'd truly know it's potential would to let Noah play with it.   Immediately Noah was drawn to the fact that he could visually see it well, and that it was stable enough to allow him use his IPad with more accuracy and intention than he's likely ever had before.  He was also very excited about it.   He thought it was rather wonderful. Noah gives the TabletTable 5 stars, and when it debuts will definitely be something that we will be purchasing for him.

TabletTable will be reasonably priced, which I absolutely love for the special needs community.  It comes with modest cost of $49 for the base and $39 for inserts to hold the adaptive device (IPad or Smartphone) in place. 

I do eventually hope that there might be a model that would accommodate cases without needing to remove them to use it, but it's still a must have piece of adaptive equipment for a child that depends on AAC communication and devices for daily use.  

Click to learn more about TabletTable and register to pre-order yours!


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Raising Compassion: #1000Speak

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February 20, 2015, more than 1,000 bloggers from around the world have pledged to write about compassion.  The movement labeled #1000Speak.  Today I am one of those strong voices with a message about what it means to be compassionate on the special needs journey.

               ღ¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨ ღ  Compassion ღ¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨` ღ

is defined as "sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others."  In text compassion feels less powerful than it really is.  It has the power to offer sensitivity, warmth, tenderness and above all else comfort to those fighting heavy battles.  The greatest gift compassion can offer us is genuine love to another human being.

I'd like to think that compassion can grow into something tremendously beautiful.  And once compassion is born in someone it has a tendency to spread, as if pollinating great kindness.  I am raising compassion.  His name is Luke.  He's just shy of his fourth birthday and is a younger sibling to a severely disabled older brother.   Noah, suffered a catastrophic brain injury at birth and at age six cannot walk, talk, crawl, sit, or self-feed.  He is completely dependent upon round the clock care and those around him for help.   Luke at his tender age in his own precious way, recognizes Noah's limitations.  But yearns to interact with his brother just as any siblings would engage with each other.  

He'll try to spoon feed his older brother if I turn my back for a moment, he'll try to soothe him by talking to Noah in a monster voice, and pick out the clothes he thinks his brother would want to wear, often times declaring the clothes I have set out are "the ones Noah doesn't like." He'll put a baseball mitt on his brother's hand and insert the ball as if to simulate they are playing together, and adjust his IPad when Noah needs a new application to entertain himself with.  He holds his hands while his father gives Noah a drink each evening, and often places Noah's hands on his feet because it brings him comfort to feel close to another human being that is dependent upon him for love and care.

When we get back from therapy, he waits patiently by the car door for Noah to be unloaded from his wheelchair, saying over and over "Noah, where are you?"

I am raising a compassionate child. ღ¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨` ღ

Although the beauty of this has little to do with what I'm instilling through parenting, it has everything to do with a child recognizing at an early age the needs of another human being and a great desire to offer loving assistance, companionship and above all else compassion.   I watch it grow each day, stronger than the day before.  And soon it will spread as he goes out into the world, and shares all the lessons he learned in compassion from his greatest teacher... Noah.

Compassionate people are geniuses in the art of living, more necessary to the dignity, security, and joy of humanity than the discoverers of knowledge." Albert Einstein 


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

It's a God Thing Book Giveaway!

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People ask us often ask us why we refer to Noah as a Miracle.  It is then when we explain that not only did Noah come back to us after not breathing or having a heartbeat for the first thirteen minutes of life, but he defied all medical odds that said Noah would have no chance of survival off life-support.  Although Noah's life remains challenging he continues to be a living Miracle.  And we continue to thank God daily for the blessing and gift of his life.

In a new book you can read other stories that will restore your faith in what is possible.  The giveaway will run for one week ending February 24th, 2015.  Winners will be chosen and contacted  via email for shipping information. 

Everyday Holds the Possibility of a Miracle.


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Things to Love

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Valentine's Day... a day filled with chocolates, flowers and dinner dates.  Love is in the air.  But for a special needs parent our focus of love is on other things.  Our heart can burst out of our chest and it requires no intervention from Cupid.  
Noah's Valentine's Day Masterpiece
Although Noah was having a moody week and rough nights that resulted ending up at the doctor's office for any ideas on trouble shooting my lack of being able to diagnose his problems,  he has been busy working hard at therapy, and accomplishing new things.  This week he painted a Valentine's Day heart by selecting colors on his Tobii Eye Gaze Communication Device.  His speech therapist placed a paper cut out heart at the bottom of a shoebox and would squirt the colors Noah picked and placed marbles in the box and closed the lid and allowed Noah to hit the box around with both arms.  The end result was a beautiful piece of artwork designed completely by Noah.  I happen to think that it could fetch a small fortune at any art gallery.   Noah is currently entertaining any serious bidder.

He's also been enjoying as much time as we'll allow him on his communication device.  We rather let him navigate what he wants to do.  Sometimes he wants to talk - sometimes like any other child, he simply wants to play.   He doesn't realize that his play is also designed to assist him in furthering his eye gaze communication skills.  It's a win-win for us. 

Noah also successfully licked his very first Valentine lollipop until it was completely gone.  In the past Noah didn't quite have the oral coordination for lollipops and would attempt to bite them - which made me nervous as that could be a choking hazard.  So I took a break for a long while knowing his chompers were strong.  But today, almost as if just magically understood the goal, he sucked it without ever attempting to bite, lick after lick using his tongue appropriately like any typical person would.   Likely the sweetest thing you could ever imagine.  And a huge accomplishment for him.  And boy was he ever so happy about it.
And if I couldn't love this Valentine's Day anymore... Noah and his little brother played ball together.  Real baseball with real gloves and mitts.  Luke tossing a velcro baseball into Noah's little baseball glove and Noah trying to give it back to Luke.  Engaging with each other as if Noah had no limitations.  It was so precious to witness those two together.  They have the strongest bond and are the best of friends.  I thank God for Luke everyday.  Noah needs him.   And their relationship is a beautiful thing to watch. 
Although gifts and cards filled with mushy messages are what first comes to mind when you think of Valentine's Day... I have things so much more to love.


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Rolling the Dice

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Assistive technology is jumping by leaps and bounds for those with special needs.  Because Noah is so young in age, I'm particularly drawn to products that offer him a way to participate with the family and offer him inclusion in ways that were not previously possible.   I see it in his eyes how sad he often gets watching his little brother do things he cannot.   He aches to participate.   He'll get a whimper in his voice, and his lower lip will creep up to a small pout and in tremendous frustration he'll even scream, cry and protest.  And as a parent how can your heart just not crumble knowing your child recognizes he's stuck on the floor with a disability that prevents him from being included.

We have found some really great products that have helped Noah to be included and feel as if he's a part of family activities.  A UK based company called Excitim has some great switch adapting options.   For Noah's birthday he was gifted with two great toys, the Domino Train, the Rally Racer and the Toy-Fi Teddy.   All of them a huge hit with Noah.  The Domino Train is a switch adapted train that spaces dominos and stacks them properly as it is activated, allowing the child to knock them down after the train has stacked them.   The Rally Racer has become a family favorite.  It has two controls one for Noah's little brother to activate and one that allows him the use of activating the toy by using an adaptive switch button.  Both boys are able to race cars together on a track.  And it's even made for some healthy typical sibling competition as Noah is better at racing than his little brother.  The Toy-Fi Teddy has been great as it allows for cell phone messages to be transmitted through the teddy bear, and then the child can access the message by pressing the hand of the bear.  Comes in handy when you need a message from dad while he's away. 

I have been super impressed with the quality and selection of the toys Excitim has to offer, and mostly recently have been using a new adaptive switch dice product.  It's an electronic dice switch that allows a child like Noah to roll dice to actively participate in any board game that uses dice simply by hitting a switch.   Huge in the land of family participation.   Who would have ever thought that Noah would be able to play a board game with us by initiating his own action, and not having someone else to do it for him.  He beams with such pride - even when he loses.  We've been using the dice with the game Shoots and Ladders and just recently bought Junior Monopoly to give us some other options. 

This switch adapted dice is a must have.   I love it.  It's essential for family participation. The vendor has been so helpful in answering any questions that we have and it's been such a blessing that they are willing to ship to the USA.   They are a fabulous vendor and hope I am able to make additional purchases from them in the future.  Our family is growing with such rich experiences by being able to find ways to participate in everyday activities together. 

"Play, as a freely chosen and intrinsically motivating activity, is at the core of human development.  It is through play that we share our abilities, make contact with our deepest self and unleash our potential."  Nilda Cosco, Ph.D


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Five Special Needs Winter Essentials

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February 2nd, the groundhog predicted an early spring.  Great news if you have a special needs child suffering from cabin fever (um-hum... not mentioning any names.... Noah!)
But to survive the last few weeks winter is going to throw at us.  Here are some Winter Essentials to get you to the first sign of spring when the your little flower bulbs push out of the ground to let you know you've made it through another season...

Sometimes you need just a pinch of sweet comfort.  Or in Noah's case a TON of sweet comfort.  Noah's not shy about his wishes to indulge his sweet tooth.  We stumbled upon a great line with packed with some reasonably big calories in relation to portion size. (Calories ranging between 180 and 250).   The Cremery Dessert line by Dannon.   It comes in eight flavors: blueberry cheesecake, caramel cheesecake, vanilla pudding, dark chocolate pudding, milk chocolate pudding, strawberry cheesecake, cherry cheesecake, and lemon cheesecake.  With a completely creamy texture it's great for children who have oral sensitives to textures, or need consistencies that are smooth and pureed they make the perfect Winter pick-me-up.

Before spring expect at least a tad bit more snow.  So you're going need to find a little bit of outdoor fun.  We're having the best winters using our Cerebra Sled by Gordon Ellis.  A must have for special needs households in the winter.  With it's smooth design and surface glides effortlessly through the snow.  And makes the perfect piece of winter equipment for family participation.  With shipping and handling the cost is roughly around $600.

Jumbo Coloring Books have become our winter miracles.  Have a child that needs a large surface to color on?  Or perhaps a child like Noah who simply likes to shred them to teenie tiny pieces with his hands and then roll around in it for extra sensory fun?  The Dollar Store has you covered.  Buy a case and stock up for only $48.  Guaranteed to give you some extra winter fun on those cold and bitter winter days.

Winter can sometimes be a bit boring if you're stuck inside.  Finding toys that are interactive can sometimes ease a child's desires to be outdoors.  The Zoomer Dino and Dog have both been a tremendous hit this year.  They work great if you give your child's eye gaze device the commands or if your child likes to touch and engage with it.  The perfect toy that acts much like a real pet.  A bit on the expensive side, but truly worth it for a child who is significantly physically limited. 
Inevitably those winter months can leave your skin chapped and flaky.  Noah's skin is extra sensitive in the winter, but we've found a great thing to help his cheeks.  Waxelene is an all natural and organic petroleum jelly alternative.   It won't clog pores and is also an excellent treatment for eczema.  It stays on for hours and is non-greasy.  It's our first line of defense for skin needing a little winter love.

And let's hope that groundhog was right.  I'm counting down the days until spring!


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Why Yes Our Data Plan is For You

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It had reached time to consider switching phones and cellular plans.   Our decision was rather easy.  What would Noah most like?  Yes.  It's true.  While Noah is gaining proficiency with his Tobii Eye Gaze Device, we still rely heavily upon his IPad and apps associated with it.   We also learned of a new app that rolls out in 2015 called Talkitt.  This new app will have a $20 monthly subscription and offers the potential of deciphering Noah's mumbled words into recognizable speech.  Something that requires the use of the IPhone.  

We've only had the phones a short few days and already Noah has decided that "Face Time" is the best thing to ever have been created in the age of technology.   Finally Noah has a way he can visually see is dad when he is away from him.  And if you have any idea on how close Noah is to his dad, then you understand that this is game changing for me.   Can I get a hallelujah for face time with dad? 

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics cautions against the use of cell phones, internet, IPads,  and TV with children indicating that such technology "has been shown to be associated with executive functioning and attention deficit, cognitive delays, impaired learning, increased impulsivity and decreased ability to self-regulate."  Given Noah's physical challenges, I say his cognitive, learning and self-soothing has done nothing but climb through the roof with the gift technology has brought into his life.  If only I had discovered the IPad when Noah was only three months old, maybe I then would have found a way to comfort such a distraught, inconsolable baby.

It's okay Noah, really lots of parents give in and get cell phones for their children.  Age six is a little early - but hey, you're worth it.  So our data plan, my son, is dedicated to you.  Face time and talk to your little heart's content.  And in the meantime I'll seek out that employee discount that we so desperately need to keep up with your new desire to be a "Chatty Cathy."


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.