It’s been a little while since my last blog - I gave in to the craziness of life and the blog was neglected…until today!  Here we are nearly at the end of March, nearly the end of the first school term. I hope you parents and carers and your special children have survived fairly unscathed by the first chaotic term of school. 

My own children have been very up and down at school – though are now benefitting from having a  brand new SE Unit block at their school.  My ASD son has been struggling  – struggling with his hyperactivity, his sensory issues, and social ineptitude. His teacher has been struggling with his ‘non-compliance’ and his inability to focus and remain undistracted.  My ASD daughter has been coping slightly better than my son so far this year. There are the usual struggles for her, like her anxiety, sensory issues etc, and her Auditory Processing Difficulties do not make life any easier for her.

 Thankfully, the Special Needs Co-ordinator at our school has secured (borrowed) a special microphone and headphones set for her and her teacher – which should make hearing what’s going on in the classroom a lot clearer. We’re then hoping it will help with her struggle with understanding the words, language and concepts of many of the subjects.  We’re very thankful for this, as to buy these sets costs around $3000 +, something out of our reach.  Thinking about helpful people, equipment and opportunities to help special needs kids leads me to my next topic…

A few weeks ago I was walking through my local shopping centre, and was thrilled to come across a couple of lovely ladies who were there to promote the opening of a new child care centre. So what? I hear you say , there are a thousand child care centres out there.  I was thrilled because this was no ordinary child care centre.  This particular Early Learning Centre is called ‘Ablecare’, and it is childcare specifically for special needs!

‘Ablecare’ was established by a physiotherapist to provide therapy, support and educational programs for children and adults with disabilities. It is privately owned, and like regular daycare, families may  be eligible for the Child Care Benefit.  Immediately I thought ‘Where was this when my children were younger???’  I was so happy that a service like this was now available!  What a relief for parents who need to work but found regular childcare was not an viable option, for whatever reason. 

Childcare for a special needs child can be hard to find, there’s a lot involved, including trying to get funding for an aide. I know this isn’t a brand new concept, but it’s wonderful to know that  there are now several locations where there is a service which is meeting the very real demands of a large community of people. My special needs children are now school age, and I don’t need before or after school care for them, but it is very comforting to know that if my situation changed and I needed that service, that it is available, in my local area. Fantastic!   Disability services are slowly growing, let’s hope it continues, for all those many people who need it.

Have a great day!

Blog – first blog of the year

Happy New Year wonderful people out there!  Let’s hope the year ahead brings us all happiness and health, and lots of fun along the way!

After having just returned from a lovely holiday in a cabin by the beach, I am reminded of the extra challenges involved when holidaying with a child (or children) with special needs. That is, if you dare to holiday at all…

We always try to holiday in the quieter times, never in peak periods when everything is a lot more crowded and busy, even at Christmas we go away before the Boxing day rush – that’s when we’re usually leaving. Once upon a time we didn’t holiday, or even go out, at all. Now our holidays aren’t as complicated as having to accomodate wheelchairs or specialist equipment, as some of you would have to  – and that would be a real challenge. Our challenges come in the form of hypersensitivity to light, temperature, touch, smell and taste, an aversion to crowds and sand (difficult when you are holidaying at the beach), overstimulation and hyperactivity, and the unpredictability of mother nature (she doesn’t stick to a routine- and that can be a problem). 

However, we are getting fairly practised at dealing with these things, and trying to avoid some of them where possible without diminishing the fun of the holiday for everyone else. So, while we may not have a ‘normal’ type of holiday (from an outsiders point of view) full of spontaneity and excitement, we still manage to have a holiday, and make it as good as we can with the challenges that are presented to us. And as long as we all come home with happy memories, then all the extra ‘work’ that goes into our holiday is so worth it! I hope you all made happy memories over the Christmas period, and make many more througout this new year!

Fiona :)

Last blog for the year!

Ho! Ho! Ho!!!  Well, it’s time to wind down, close down, and be whisked away for a quiet (never with 3 kids!) family holiday over the silly season. What a whirlwind the last few months have been – from the time the website went live in October til now has been fantastic!

To think  just a couple of months ago, there was only a small range of products that consisted of yoropens, pencil grips, and weighted items. Now, just before christmas, there have been so many products added to the site already, I’m excited about what next year could bring! I’ve added lots of sensory/feely toys, gifts for siblings, organisational items, and just in the last couple of weeks (and days) I’ve also added Scooter boards, Easie Eaters and washable weighted bags. I still have so many products I want to have available on this website, and am constantly trying to source new products.  So lets see what the new year will bring…

I would like to remind everyone the Special Needs 4 Special Needs will be closed from 19th December til 4th January, so any orders placed during this time will not be sent til after the 4th Jan.

I would also like to wish all my customers and supporters, all the parents and carers, and all those special kids out there in Australia, a truly wonderful Christmas! I hope your Christmas is filled with laughter and happy times. Be safe, be merry, and may the New Year ahead bring health, prosperity and wonderful things to you all.

Signing off for 2009 – Merry Christmas – see you all in the New Year!

Fiona :)

Blog – Lots to tell

And so, it is nearly the end of November – hasn’t this year just flown by.  Christmas is nearly upon us, and the end of the year is just around the corner. And, there is lots to tell at the moment.

Firstly, Easie Eaters are on the way – and should be here in the next week or two. There will be 4 differents sets available – left handed with or without the safety shield, and right handed with or without the safety shield. Easie Eaters are angled utensils, designed by an Occupational Therapist to assist with self feeding.  Keep your eyes peeled for the announcement that they have arrived.

Also, Scooter Boards will also be available later this week!  Scooter boards can have many benefits, developing strength and co-ordination to name just a couple. The Scooter Boards will be timber, with non-marking castor wheels. Available any day now…

Another product available later this week – washable “Heavy’s” weighted lap bags and shoulder drapes. They will be hand washable, and as always, available in corduroy in girly or boyish colours. 

In other news, for all the Brisbane residents who would like to save themselves on postage, I will be holding a stall at a ‘Christmas Shopping Extravanza’ on the southside. The ‘Christmas Shopping Extravanza’ will be held this Friday night the 4th December at Belmont State School hall, Old Cleveland Rd, Carindale. Doors open at 7pm, and there will be many stallholders on the night offering all sorts of goodies. I will have a stall set up with all the current products available on the night, so if you would like to have a look at, or buy some products and save yourself some money on postage, come on down - I’ll look forward to seeing you there.

Christmas Prize pack entries will close midnight tomorrow night (30th November), so remember for any orders over $20 you will receive one entries into the competition. $20 will equate to one entry, $40 two entries, and so on. Happy shopping and Good luck!

Lastly, Special Needs 4 Special Needs will be closed for 2 weeks over the Christmas/New Year period. I will post the dates on the website soon.  

I hope you all had a wonderful and stress free weekend.


Blog – Why? Why? Why?

After a recent trip to the paediatrician with my kids, I was left wondering why people in the know don’t give us parents and carers useful information that could potentially save us, or entitle us, to some much needed money. The answer I think, is also money.

Before we could actually go to the Paediatricians we had to go to the doctor. My sons referral had expired, so first we had to go to the doctor to get a new referral – $55 later.  Because we then had a new referral for him, we had to pay the ‘new patient’ price of $180, even though we have been going to this Paediatrician for a couple of years now, for the same reason all along.

So off we go to the Paed. While we are chatting with the Paediatrician I ask him about some Care Programs that our lovely (and very helpful) Occupational Therapist told me we should be eligible for. After avoiding the question for a couple of minutes he realised I wasn’t going to let it go, and checked some of his information. “Ah yes, I’ll sort that out for you. You’ll be eligible for that for both the children.” Yay, a win! But if our OT hadn’t mentioned it, we would never have known about these things, that will save us hundreds of dollars for each of our kids.

Why is it so hard to find out this information? Why don’t doctors tell you? Why didn’t our Paed ever mention this to us? My guess is, money again – the governments money – no-one seems keen to tell you about what help you could be eligible for from the government. I’m grateful for any, as any parent or carer of a special needs child is, but if  I can access more to help my children, then I’m certainly going to do it! 

So after forking out $250 for both kids, the receptionist then told me something fantastic. “Next time you go to the doctor, make sure you ask for a lifetime referral, then you won’t have to pay that new patient price”.  Lifetime referral???? What the????? After standing in stunned silence for a few seconds, I finally asked “Why hasn’t anyone enywhere ever told me that you could get a lifetime referral?”. The receptionist smiled sweetly, “Why, then all the doctors would lose out on the their money wouldn’t they?”  Another piece of very useful information, that no-one has ever told me before. I know now, so when my daughters referral expires in a couple of months and I have to go back to the doctor to get a new one, Ill be asking for a lifetime referral – tee hee!

So, after thinking I’ve had a little bit of a victory gaining some new and useful information, I was quickly deflated when I waltzed into Medicare to claim the first session on the Care Program, to be told by the friendly Medicare Officer that the Paediatrician  hasn’t actually activated the Care Programs yet….

So I’ve gained some infomation, but haven’t actually gained the benefit yet… and now I have to chase the Paed up to make sure he gets it going, and backdates it… oh if only it were easy hey!

So the moral of the story is: ask about lifetime referrals, ask every medical professional/therapist you deal with  questions about what you may be entitled to …and cross your fingers!  Good luck !

Fiona :)

Blog – nearly Christmas time…argghhh!!!

Well, the year is winding down. The christmas decorations are starting to go up in shopping centres, christmas craft is being done at school, and all of a sudden the countdown is on.  Not long til Santa does his dash around the globe. And that excitement and anticipation can also cause a lot of stress and anxiety.

This also means, the end of the school year is getting close. ‘Hooray’ say some…’arghhhh’ say others.  The kids will be at home from school for about 6 weeks, and for some parents that is a scary thought. No break from the demands of parenting a special needs child, and if your child is normally at school it’s going to feel like a long 6 weeks.

My kids are really showing the signs that the end of the year is nigh, and they can’t deal with school anymore.  The self harm stuff is peaking, the anxiety is nearly unbearable, the hyperactivity is off the richter…and there is still 4 weeks to go til holidays.  Can we wait that long??? I can.

While I absolutely love the freedom of not having to make lunches and do homework every night that school holidays brings, the anxiety and stress that the unstructured daily holiday life brings, I could live without.  While I try to provide structure and routine and things that will help relieve those problems, I am human, and sometimes I wonder “When do I get a holiday from all this?”

This time of year there is lots of stress at school – to complete things, make christmas gifts for loved ones, christmas events, and teachers sometimes have a lot more unstructured time in the classroom to complete all they need to. There is lots of talk about moving up to the next year level, having new classmates, new teacher, new routine, new classroom, new new new….scary and stressful stuff for a lot kids, moreso for those kids with special needs. This stress and anxiety ends up coming home for mum and dad to deal with.

Still, tis the season to be jolly, so as parents and carers we go the extra mile, and somehow try to make everything wonderful, happy, calm and enjoyable for all. Even these last few weeks of school. Even the long 6 weeks of school holidays. And we hope  the long break from school revitalises childrens souls, calms their mind and body, replenishes their spirits, and ours too. Lets hope these last few weeks of school, the christmas festivities and the holidays are happy for all, and enjoyed by all too.

Til next time…

Fiona :)

P.S. Don’t forget that for every $20 spent this month you will receive 1 entry into the Christmas Prize Pack.

Blog – little achievements

Isn’t it amazing how much joy you can get from little achievements?  When I say ‘little’ achievements, they may be little or insignificant to someone else – not really something to be celebrated, but to the parent or carer of a child with special needs or unique challenges, they are often a really big deal.

The latest ‘little’ achievement in our house is nose blowing.  My 8 year daughter has finally learnt to blow her nose, not with much force as yet, but it’s blowing all the same.  Now this may not sound very exciting, or much of an achievement, but for her, getting her brain to co-ordinate with her body in a way that will expel air (and pretty gross gooey stuff too) out of her nose is a big deal. 

This is a result of  a LOT of Occupational Therapy, over a period of  nearly 4 years.  Of course OT has not just been about getting her to blow her nose, but it’s one of the things that has been a side product of another objective.  And recently, when she made that first little bit of air come out of her nose, I nearly cried!  She looked at me and smiled,  with a mixture of surprise and pride.  What an achievement!!!

Nose blowing isn’t her greatest achievement by a long shot.  Changing everything in our lives, lots of OT and Speech and hard work at home, have resulted in great things – like holding a pencil and fork,  communication (although we still have a long way to go with that),  looking at someone – these are huge! But Icouldn’t believe how much joy I got from a simple gesture – like blowing a nose.

Most people would find this quite ridiculous I guess – “What’s the big deal? It’s blowing a nose!” . But until you have  had a child (or in my case, 2) who struggles with so much of the everyday stuff that most people take forgranted, you’ll never truly understand how wonderful these ‘little’  achievements can be.

So remember today, (as I’m sure you already do) to take pride and relish in the joy that these little achievements bring you – because you know just much effort has gone into them. I’d love to hear about the ‘little’ achievements of other people’s children too – feel free to send me a message or leave a comment.

Have a wonderful day!

Fiona :)

Blog – ‘Slap in the face’ moments

‘Slap in the face’ moments – I’m sure most of you who visit this website would understand what I’m talking about.  The first ’slap in the face’ moment is usually when you receive a diagnosis for your child.  Your whole world is turned upside down, and you go through a sort of grieving process, where the life you had hoped for for your child is suddenly just a dream, and the reality of what life will be like for your child (and the rest of your family too), ’slaps you in the face’.

This subject came up for me the other day when I was talking to a friend of mine who has a child with Angelmans Syndrome. She was having one of those ’slap in the face’ moments with her beautiful daughter.

When you are pregnant and asked about the baby, you always tend to say to people the old cliche “Don’t care about anything but  baby being healthy’. You have visions of your baby doing all those things that babies should, like crawling and walking and goo-ing and gaa-ing. You imagine their first words, the first time they go to a birthday party, starting school, playing sport, having sleepovers, learning to drive, getting married, and having babies of their own one day. Then all of a sudden, with one diagnosis, that ‘normal’ life that you’d hoped for them seems to disappear in front of your eyes.

After a while, that feeling may fade a bit, as you get on with life. But every now and then you’ll have one of those moments, a ’slap in the face’ moment, where all those feelings come flooding back. It may be as simple as seeing another child hug their parent (that always does it for me), clapping their hands or taking a step, and the realisation that your child may never do those things hits you again like a ton of bricks. And while I try not to dwell on those things that my kids may never do, and try to focus on all they can do and have achieved so far, I still have those ’slap in the face’ moments.

Ever feel like that?  Don’t worry, you’re not alone. So, if you’re having one of those days, or one of those moments, just know that there are lots of other people going through the same thing.  I find that going to a support group really helps, to talk to and meet other people who are dealing with, and going through the same things that I am. For anyone who doesn’t go to a local support group, it’s a good thing to consider. Feeling supported and understood really can help when you’re having those bad moments.

Hoping everyone has a ’slap in the face’ free day today!!!

Fiona :)