"Shopping," I replied when he asked what I am doing at nearly eleven o'clock tonight on our couch.

 I'm sitting here with a thick special needs products catalog and have several pages down turned of things I need to order for Will before he starts pre-K (typing that makes me want to throw up... I can hardly stand the idea of being apart from him twice a week for 4 hours for nine months!)    He doesn't need very many adaptive pieces of equipment but he does need a new pair (or 2) or platform scissors and a better slant board than the homemade one I made with my hot glue gun last year.  And they have these cool gripping devices that might be helpful with his writing and coloring.  And there's colors that work without putting much weight on them - something he struggles with.  And I want two or three of everything so that his teacher can keep one set at school and I can have a set here for him to work with.

Also, I'm looking for Ellie.  Someone mentioned to me recently that they struggle in shopping for her upcoming birthday because the toys she is cognitively ready for and that we know she would love, she is not physically ready for.  Yet, she seems bored with her "baby toys" - she has mastered her in and out boxes and can work them so quickly.  She has mastered ball poppers and ring stackers and rattles are not developmentally appropriate.  So, I'm hoping to find some "toys" in this catalog for her - to challenge her but not too much - to still be play for her.  I want to find toys to fit her cognitively and physically.  I want toys that she can play independently with while I cook dinner or spend time with Will or do any other of the things moms have to do during the day when they can't be on the floor doing therapy every waking moment.

This would be so much better with a glass of wine.  Or two.

If I had the time/money/drive/business sense/skills/any idea what in the world I am talking about, I would start toy company/clothing design company for parents and kids with special needs or differences.  I can't tell you how many times I have bought two or three of the same type of toy because I wasn't sure which style would be easiest for my child.  And so, I would buy it and open the package (& throw away the package - stupidly) and introduce it to my child and allow them to try it for awhile.  And sometimes, after some attempt has been made, I've realized that it is too challenging or built in a difficult way or not structured exactly the way we need it (& yet I know it is a skill we need to learn or it's a toy everyone is raving about or whatever) and so I've bought a different version - in hopes that that would work.  I've done the same thing with sippy cups and bowls and plates and utensils.  So much of this was trial and error as to determining what Will could hold best to teach him independent eating without frustrating him too much.  I must have spent a fortune on plastic dishes!
(The good news is that when I find something that works, I buy lots of that thing and I'm good for awhile... until the next challenge!)

And the clothes!  It's not such a big deal in the summer but in the winter, pants are a big challenge for Will.  He's so skinny that he can still wear his 18 mt - 2t size shorts.  (He's nearly 4!)  But, with pants, those are too short - especially if he is wearing his zancos.  But, if he wears the right length of pants for his zancos and then wants to take them off, his pants are way too long and it is a hazard as he trips on them.  Thankfully, about two years ago, someone who works for my inlaws found great pants at Old Navy that roll up - so we can unroll them when he is wearing zancos or roll them up for when he is not.  I bought one in every color and I do so every fall for the upcoming winter.    I've had similar issues with Ellie - trying to figure out the best kind of pjs for her as a newborn when it seemed to cause pain to move her shoulders too much or trying to find clothes to fit her spica cast.

So, if someone would actually create a company that made toys that look like real toys (instead of adaptive equipment) & clothes that look like what all their friends wear (but work with splints or casts or prosthetics or have velcro instead of zippers or backstraps on cool flip flops) and that would have an AWESOME return policy or trade policy so that we have time to give something a try and figure it out and then return or trade it if it doesn't... that would be great.  And even if they charged extra for such services, I would pay it - because it would probably save me money & time in the long run.  I can't speak for other parents of kids with differences but I bet I'm not alone here in this trial and error shopping scenario.

In the meantime, a glass of wine while I pour through the adaptive equipment catalog will just have to do.  Or, as the case may be tonight, a glass of water. :)

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