Sensory-Friendly Holiday Guide

Blog: Sensory Friendly Holiday 2023

Bright, twinkling lights. Crowded shopping malls. Noisy gatherings. Scratchy special occasion clothing. The holiday season can be challenging for individuals with sensory processing disorders and their families.

The good news? With each passing year, retailers, mall operators, fashion designers and performing arts venues are catching on to the needs of individuals with sensory sensitivities. This year’s sensory-friendly offerings are more prevalent than ever. We’ve compiled a list of sensory-friendly holiday experiences that may be available in your hometown or city.

1. Sensory-friendly shopping
Walmart, America’s largest retailer, announced recently that every one of its stores will have sensory friendly hours from 8 a.m.-10 a.m. every single day from now on. The decision came after the company offered sensory-friendly shopping hours on Saturdays during back-to-school shopping season that were extremely well-received by customers. During sensory-friendly hours, the store will dim overhead lights, turn off radios and change TV walls to static images. “During these hours, we hope our customers and associates will find the stores to be a little easier on the eyes and ears,” the company said in a press release. “These changes are thanks to those who shared their feedback on how their stores could help them feel like they belong.”

Target has also announced sensory friendly shopping hours for the holidays but so far, the policy is limited to a couple of the chain’s Ohio and Alabama locations. Stay tuned for announcements of more sensory friendly hours at Target and other retailers.

2. Sensory-friendly Santa events
This month, you’ll find Santa Cares events and photo opportunities at malls across the country. The events, offered in partnership with Autism Speaks, take place outside of normal shopping hours and feature reduced crowds and wait times, low lights and music volumes and Santas and staff members trained to understand the needs of individuals with disabilities.

3. Sensory-friendly entertainment
These days, sensory friendly entertainment has become par for the course. At holiday time, you can find lots of seasonally inspired options. For example, the legendary Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes offered an autism-friendly performance on Nov. 19. According to the theater development fund’s website, the show featured “slight adjustments to lighting and sound” and a break area staffed by specialists. Prior to the show, audience members were able to download an event narrative with photos of the theatre and the production. Visit the Rockettes website for other disability-friendly performances.

4. Sensory-friendly zoos and museums
During the holiday season, zoos such as the Bronx Zoo, the Columbus Zoo and the Southwick Zoo are providing sensory-friendly experiences and holiday light shows. Museums including the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Children’s Museum in Buffalo, New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh currently offer sensory friendly hours and/or special programming for visitors on the autism spectrum all year round.

5. Sensory friendly worship
Religious organizations are increasingly aware of the need to make congregants with family members on the autism spectrum feel more welcome at services. Check out organizations like the Autism Faith Network, New Jersey Special Needs Connection, Arise Special Needs Ministry,  Muhsen, and the Disabilities Inclusion Learning Center to find lists of autism-friendly religious services in your area. Congregations are adding services for members with disabilities all the time, so visit the websites of local houses of worship regularly to see what’s new.

Thanksgiving Dining for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Thanksgiving Dinner Table with Roast Turkey

Many children with autism spectrum disorder experience significant challenges when it comes to food sensitivities, food aversions and mealtime behavior. These challenges can be especially difficult to manage during the holiday season. With Thanksgiving arriving later this week, we’ve compiled some suggestions to make your holiday dining experiences as stress-free as possible.

1. Cook with your child
Cooking is a wonderful way to bond with your child. Not only does cooking teach important skills like math and reading, it also helps with attention, executive functioning and is a great way to provide sensory stimulation. Equally important, cooking is a way to help your child interact with food without the sort of expectations that may exist during mealtimes. When your child sees the ingredients used to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dish and feels a sense of accomplishment for their role in making it, they may be more enthusiastic about tasting it. If you’re lucky, they will begin to view Thanksgiving foods in a positive light.

2. Choose menu items thoughtfully
Look for Thanksgiving menu items that are well-suited to your child’s food preferences. As Autism Parenting blogger Rebecca Conik writes, “holiday casseroles are hard for hesitant eaters; you cannot quite tell what is in them, and it is hard to predict the taste. For the best chance of success in introducing and cooking new holiday dishes, choose recipes that are straightforward, customizable, and contain at least some familiar ingredients.”

3. Create a Thanksgiving Sensory Feast
A Thanksgiving sensory feast is a terrific way to expose children with ASD to new foods while teaching them about the meaning of the holiday. Music therapist Rachel Rambach recommends making pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce playdough; dry corn and dry stuffing sensory bins; and potatoes and gravy stamp paintings. For detailed instructions, see Rambach’s blog here.

4. Be flexible
Don’t stress yourself or your child by insisting that they eat everything on the Thanksgiving menu. Encourage them to try a couple of foods, but come prepared with some backup snacks to ensure that your child is sated and comfortable.

5. Choose autism-friendly ingredients
According to Gabriel Williams at Neural Balance, Thanksgiving can spell trouble for children with ASD who react poorly to diets high in gluten and casein. Williams recommends using organic ingredients that are gluten and casein-free. In addition, be mindful of the turkey you select. “Any turkey that has been injected with anything is likely to contain allergens, writes Williams. “Some farms will use arsenic on the feed, which in turn becomes ingested and stays in the meat of the turkey.”

For some autism friendly recipes, visit Neural Balance here.

Have a Happy and Accessible Halloween!

Blog: Have a Happy and Accessible Halloween!

Anyone who has kids knows that Halloween is a big deal! And while the holiday is still several weeks away, it’s not too early to work with your child to find an adaptive costume that brings them joy and meets their needs for accessibility and comfort.

What makes a costume adaptive? According to website The Bump, adaptive costumes “are outfitted with accessibility features—such as discreet openings for feeding tubes or medical devices, or silhouettes intended for those who use wheelchairs, aren’t ambulatory or may spend a lot of time seated or lying down.”

Until recently, parents who wanted to provide comfortable and creative costumes for their children with disabilities had no choice but to make them themselves. Fortunately, in recent years, retailers such as Target, Party City and Disney have carried a selection of adaptive costumes and wheelchair decorations that appeal to a variety of interests and imaginations. Here are some examples of cool costumes for the trick-or-treater in your life.

1. For the Princess who Likes an Epic Ride:
Your child will be the belle of the ball when she arrives for trick-or-treating in this Princess Carriage Halloween Costume Wheelchair Cover with Headpiece from Target. This 13-piece set, which retails for $35, includes wheelchair wheel, side and back covers plus hook-and-loop tape. A princess crown tops off the look!

2. For the Minnie Mouse Maven:
The Minnie Maven in your life will swoon over this pink, sparkly, satin dress and matching Minnie Mouse ears. This costume is designed with openings at the abdomen and in the back to accommodate your child’s needs. Available at Target.

3. For the Batman in Your Life:
Your child will look positively heroic in this Adaptive Batman costume that includes a top with an accessibility flap, seatless pants, a cape, and matching mask. Available at Target.

4. For the Police Officer Who’s on Halloween Duty:
Dress up your little one’s wheelchair like a police squad car and let her patrol the neighborhood searching for candy! In addition to wheelchair panels and wheel covers, this complete set includes a police hat! Available at Party City.

5. For Dash Incredible:
Your kid will look “incredible” in this cool Disney Store adaptive costume designed with openings in the arm sleeve, stomach and pant inseam openings for easy accessibility. Available at Walmart.

6. For Your Little Mermaid:
Your Halloween is destined to go swimmingly well when your child tours the neighborhood in this adaptive wheelchair wrap with matching mermaid hairpiece. Purchase the mermaid costume for the whole look!

7. For the Harry Potter Fan:
This adaptive Harry Potter costume will enchant your youngster. Designed for comfort and accessibility, it ensures a magical Halloween.

Last Minute Gift Ideas

Last Chance to Save

Though holiday shopping season is well underway, there’s still time to order gifts from Enabling Devices. We’ve put together some gift suggestions that are sure to appeal to everyone on your list.

For the sensory seeker:

Encourage imaginary play and sensory stimulation with our Sensory Exploration Tent.  The colorful tent — also a perfect place to take some quiet time — is outfitted with a variety of sensory toys including our Tranquil Turtle, Jellyfish Soother, Foam Floor Mat, Twinkles To Go Octo, Fiber Optic Lamp with Bluetooth Speaker, Tangle, Tubular VibratorGel Lap Pad, Weighted Blanket (Med), and Wood Fidget Puzzle.

For the Christmas lover:

Let them celebrate their favorite holiday all year long with our Holiday Music Box. Activate switch and hear “Jingle Bells” and see festive glowing lights. And speaking of switches, using the music box is more fun with our sparkly Holiday Gumball Switches.

For the music fan

The Music Machine Set is the perfect gift for the person who wants to start their own band. This product includes adaptive cluster bells, maraca, jingle stick and wood frog guiro rasp. And as a bonus, musical play increases auditory development, teaches cause and effect and music appreciation. Prefer just to listen to music? Then try the Adapted Boom Box with AC Adapter.

For the person with something to say

Choose from a large array of communicators for people of every ability. Visually impaired people will benefit from our Totally Tactile Communicator, our Tactile Symbol Communicator and our 4” x 5” Communicator for the VI.

The Auditory Communicator 16 Levels is ideal for individuals who can’t push multiple buttons due to physical or visual limitations. One of our most popular communicators is the Talkable 6 Spinning Communicator, and for advanced communicators, consider our 32 Message Communicator (both on sale until Dec. 23, 2022).

For the game player

You can’t go wrong with a classic game such as adaptive Tic Tac Toe, Hi Ho Cherry-O or Monopoly Junior. Not only will gifts like these offer hours of fun, they’ll also teach important skills like directionality and socialization, and provide sensory stimulation.

For the animal lover

The (stuffed) animal lover in your life will adore cuddling up with our Floppy Bunny, Baby Terrier, Baby Retriever or Tabby Cat. Soft and adorable, these plush toys also teach skills such as cause and effect, directionality, and increase auditory and visual attention. Check catalogue to see which toys teach these particular skills.

For the hobbyist

It’s almost time for New Year’s Resolutions. If your friend or family member is considering a new hobby such as cooking, gardening or crafts, we’ve got you covered. Our Pouring Cups for Adapted Cooking will enable aspiring chefs to participate in cooking classes or dramatic play.

Gardening anyone? Our Adapted Gardening Spray has a wand that easily attaches to your wheelchair. No matter what craft your loved one wants to try, our Adapted Battery Operated Scissors makes just about any crafts activity possible.

Happy Holidays!

Six Ways to Have a Sensory-Friendly Halloween

Blog: Six Ways to Have a Sensory-Friendly Halloween

Halloween – it’s one of America’s favorite holidays. But for the one in six children with sensory integration issues, it can be a bit of a nightmare.

According to Connecting for Kids, “children who struggle with sensory issues have trouble processing information received through the senses.” Sensory challenges can show up as extreme sensitivities to sound, smell, taste, touch and visual stimulation. In other words, children with sensory integration may be disturbed by loud noises, odors, unfamiliar tastes, bright lights and clothing that irritates their skin.

The good news? Sensory issues don’t have to spoil Halloween. With thoughtful planning and creativity, it’s likely that every child in your household can enjoy this sweet and spooky holiday.

Here are some tips for a sensory-friendly Halloween.

1. Choose costumes carefully
If your child wants a store-bought costume, make sure they try it on in the store or at least several days before Halloween to ensure it’s comfortable. If possible, help your child to select a costume that has room to wear comfortable clothing underneath. If you make your child’s costume, choose fabric that you know will accommodate their sensory needs.

While precautions such as these will minimize trouble they’re not foolproof. Kids can be unpredictable. In the event your child changes their mind at the last minute, be flexible. Let your child trick-or-treat without a costume or have some dress-up alternatives prepared in advance.

2. Be aware of triggers
If you know your child tends to be fearful of spooky images, costumes or decorations, prepare them with books, social stories and pictures that show them that scary figures such as witches, ghosts and zombies are not real. If you live in a community where neighbors are receptive, ask them to avoid decorating with strobe lights and fog machines, or playing eerie music or shrill sound effects that may frighten children with sensory sensitivities. Likewise, noisy get-togethers with too many people can be overwhelming. Instead, trick-or-treat on a quiet block and limit your visits to neighbors and friends that your child knows and trusts.

3. Trick-or-treat before nightfall
Darkness can be frightening to children with sensory issues. Many communities have neighborhood trick-or-treating gatherings that take place before sundown. Take advantage of the daylight and limit the possibility of a meltdown.

4. Celebrate at home
If your child is uncomfortable trick-or-treating, organize some holiday activities at home. You might host a sensory friendly Halloween party for friends and family with activities such as candy corn sensory slime and Halloween shaving cream activities. You can serve Halloween treats (either candy or goodies that comply with your child’s special diet), dance to the “Monster Mash” or have a Halloween parade.

You can also watch a favorite fall-themed movie; have family game night; and answer the doorbell together. Being in a comfortable environment may allow your child to enjoy the evening.

5. Be mindful of other children with sensory concerns
Keep your own decorations tame, skip scary costumes and keep your front door well-lit so that trick-or-treaters aren’t frightened when they visit your home. Keep in mind that children may have good reasons why they’re not wearing costumes and don’t confront them if they trick-or-treat in their street clothes.  Also, be mindful of non-verbal children who aren’t able to say “trick-or-treat.” Finally, have a healthy option for children on sensory diets.

6. Give your child and family permission to skip Halloween
Don’t despair if your child isn’t up for celebrating. Many children with sensory issues thrive on routine and Halloween calls for a change in plans. If your child doesn’t wish to participate this year let him know it isn’t the end of the world. He may be ready to give it a try next year.

Gift Guide for People With Special Needs

Gift Guide for People with Special Needs

Whether you’re starting in on some early holiday shopping, looking for a birthday gift or on the hunt for a “Just Because” gift, finding the right present for someone you love can be a challenge. When the person you’re shopping for has special needs, shopping for gifts is about more than just finding something they’ll like — it’s about finding a gift they can use and enjoy on their own regardless of their limitations.

Depending on their disability, people with functional needs — commonly referred to as special needs — may require special switch-activated toys or activities. Some individuals with a sensory processing disorder may have limitations as to which kinds of lights or noises they can enjoy in a toy. Or, they may be older and want to use the same electronics as their friends, but with modifications for their needs.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone would just find the perfect gift and write your name on the card? We can’t do the shopping for you, but if you’re looking for gift ideas for a friend, student or family member with special needs, then you’ve come to the right place!

Our ultimate gift guide for kids and adults with disabilities is designed to give you lots of ideas for finding the best gifts to give people with disabilities, as well as some tips for showering them with love and care during any special holiday or celebration!

Browse Sensory Products

More Inclusive Toys Are Being Made

Before we start on specific suggestions, let’s take a few minutes to understand why purchasing the right toys for people with special needs is such a big deal. Although individuals with disabilities can use some mainstream toys, those toys often are not naturally adapted to their needs. For example, battery-operated toys typically come with a small switch to activate them.

A person with cerebral palsy or another physical limitation may not have the fine motor skills necessary to grip and move that tiny switch. For older teens and adults, a standard iPad may present a challenge because they can’t use the touch screen properly.

Another reason individuals with functional needs may require different toys and adaptive devices is because of unique ways of processing. Just as mainstream toys are designed to help children learn and grow, these individuals still need to learn and grow, but they need toys that take into account their struggles with paying attention, loud noises and bright lights.

In the past, mainstream toy manufacturers haven’t always produced toys to address certain physical and mental needs, so companies like Enabling Devices began making their own suitable alternatives. In many cases, their toys for special needs mimic those found in toy stores across the country.

They are designed with individuals with functional needs in mind, which include those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), physical disabilities or vision impairment. However, adapting them to use switches or large buttons where necessary and providing sensory experiences that help, rather than hinder, those with sensory sensitivities.

Holiday Gift Guide for Those with Special Needs

How to Find the Right Toy: Questions to Ask

Even when you’re looking at gifts specifically designed for individuals with special needs, it’s important to remember that not all toys are made for all types of needs. Consider the person you’re shopping for. What do they enjoy? What do they already have? What are their limitations or what accommodations do they need? Depending on your relationship with the person you’re shopping for, you may be able to narrow down gift options quickly. But if you’re struggling to find options, you can ask some questions to help you identify the right gift.

1. Is the Toy Right for Their Ability?

First, consider the person you’re shopping for. For instance, what you get a child with ASD may be different than what you buy for a teen wheelchair user. Individuals with ASD may benefit from sensory toys designed to calm and soothe, while an individual with a physical disability or limited mobility may benefit more from an activity designed to help make their world more accessible, such as a mount for their iPad.

Is the Toy Right for Their Ability?

2. Is It a Cognitive Development Toy?

Puzzles, board games, toys with simple instructions or repetitive actions will provide cognitive development opportunities for those who need them. If you’re shopping for an individual who has a physical disability but not a cognitive one, though, then a gift like this may not be the right one.

3. Will They Be Able to Activate the Toy?

Consider how the toy works. Given your child’s ability, will they be able to activate it themself? If not, they may become frustrated and set the toy aside in favor of something they can operate. Switch-activated toys and tools are a great option if you are shopping for a gift for someone who cannot operate smaller switches.

4. Is It Physical?

Does the gift you’re considering require physical effort to use? If so, can the individual you’re purchasing it for operate it given their mobility needs or limitations?

5. Do You Need a Switch Adaptor to Use It?

In some cases, an individual with special needs may not be able to operate mainstream toys because they cannot use the on-off switch that often accompanies battery-operated toys. Adapted toys allow individuals with special needs to interact with these toys by giving them a button to press or other alternatives for operating the toy with the use of a switch. Some toys and activities come with a switch adaptor, while others may be modified to add one.

6. Will the Toy Allow Them to Interact With Others?

Among its many benefits, play allows children and adults of all abilities to interact with others. Educational toys for people with disabilities, as well as games, encourage interaction and communication with others. Such interaction can be beneficial toward encouraging social interaction and development.

7. Is It an Individual Toy?

In some cases, people with sensory processing disorders may benefit from toys and gifts that are calming and can be used alone, such as plush toys or fidget toys. In other cases, an individual may benefit from puzzles and games that help with mobility or cognitive development when there isn’t a parent, teacher or another child nearby to help.

8. Is It Safe for Their Actual and Developmental Age or Ability?

In this case, buying a gift for a person with functional needs is no different than buying a toy for any other child. Consider their age, but more importantly where they are in their development, to determine whether the gift you’re considering will be helpful or frustrating.

For example, a young child likely won’t be able to understand board games, and a teen or adult may not enjoy a stuffed animal or toy designed for a younger person. If you’re not sure whether an item is developmentally appropriate, it’s always a good idea to consult their parent or caregiver to get their opinion before you buy.

9. Does It Appeal to Their Interests?

Children and adults with special needs are individuals with unique interests and abilities. What appeals to one won’t necessarily appeal to another. Before you buy a gift, consider what you know about them. Do they enjoy sports? Music? Art? Computers? There are a wide variety of gift options for children, teens and adults with special needs, each tailored to a variety of interests.

10. Is It Fragile?

Gifts that are fragile may be dropped and broken. It’s vital to make sure you purchase a quality product that will stand up to regular use.

Educational Toys and Guides

Play is how people learn about the world around them. It’s essential to both physical and mental development. This concept is no different for an individual with special needs. In fact, it can become even more important because of the ways it can help them cope with and adapt to their functional needs or limitations.

Are there specific educational toys for different needs?

The short answer is: Yes!

Depending on the needs of the person you’re shopping for, certain toys can provide comfort, stimulation and even physical activity. For example, individuals with ASD often benefit from sensory tools that play soothing music, fidget toys or other tactile processing toys such as a sensory pillow or stuffed animal.

A child with cerebral palsy, on the other hand, may benefit from toys that can be manipulated, such as kinetic sand, building or stacking sets or a set of basic musical instruments, such as one that includes percussion instruments like cymbals, a triangle and a tambourine.

If you’re looking for just the right gift, Enabling Devices offers a variety of toys, sold both individually and as bundles. Our educational classroom kits also make great gifts for individuals of all actual and developmental ages and abilities. Some of our more popular options include:

1. Classroom Fidget Kit

The Classroom Fidget Kit is designed to help children and adults with ASD control their impulses and soothe themselves in the classroom, during therapy or at home. When they can control their impulses, it allows them to better focus and retain information, as well as self-soothe when they are overloaded because of a lot of noise and activity around them. Among the many items included in the kit are Sensory Stixx, Water Snakes, Squish Disks, Mini Koosh Balls and more, all inside a carrying case.

Browse Sensory Products

2. Creative Art Bundle

Perfect for the artist in your life, the Creative Art Bundle is a great way to build an at-home art studio and enjoy hours of fun for individuals of all abilities. The Creative Art Bundle includes swirl art, battery-operated scissors and a motorized squiggle wiggle writer pen. The swirl art painting machine and the scissors are both switch-adapted as well. These pieces can all be purchased individually, but this kit combines these great products to provide a creative outlet for any artist!

3. Quick Start Communication Kit

Designed for students with basic communication challenges, the Quick Start Communication Kit combines Enabling Devices’ most popular tools to help students become active and engaged in therapy or school, even when they have communication challenges that might otherwise hinder social interaction. But don’t be fooled! This kit doesn’t just benefit students in the classroom or therapy. The skills it helps to build extend into the home as well.

4. Sensory Discrimination Kit

If you’re looking for a gift for an individual whose special needs mean they need to develop their sensory awareness, the Sensory Discrimination Kit is a great option. This educational toy features eight different compartments, each with a unique material and texture. Users learn tactile discrimination skills as they feel the difference between various textures, including bumpy, sparkly, fuzzy, soft, hard, smooth and scratchy. This product can be helpful during sensory integration therapy or for assessing sensory discrimination skills.

Sensory Discrimination

Best Presents for Wheelchair Users

Looking for the perfect presents for wheelchair users may at first seem to present a challenge, but provides a great opportunity to find heartfelt and useful items regardless of what functional needs the recipient has.

But before you run out and buy the first device you see, take a few minutes to think about the person you’re buying for. What will help them achieve their goals? Do they need something that will help improve their ability to engage in therapy, at home or in another social setting? Is there something that will allow them to participate in the same activities as their non-wheelchair-bound peers?

Wheelchair Attachments

Keeping the wheelchair comfortable and functional is important! Enabling Devices offers a variety of accessible wheelchair attachments, including the Easy Flex Mount, the Eye-Talk Bundle, the Clip Clamp, an iPad Mounting System and the Massaging Pillow. Each of these tools is designed to help wheelchair users perform daily tasks and maintain their comfort in their chair. Although each of them serves an exciting and unique purpose, part of the fun of choosing one of these as a gift is determining which attachment would be most beneficial to the person you’re buying it for. Their needs or limitations will determine how effective each item is, so before you buy it, stop and consider how it can and should be used.

Best Presents for Specific Needs

Depending on your relationship with the person you’re buying a gift for, you may already have an idea of what to purchase or you may not be sure where to start. As we’ve mentioned before, the gift you buy should reflect each individual’s needs and interests. However, there are some good gifts for children and adults with specific needs. Consider these suggestions if you’re not sure where to start looking!

1. Gift Ideas for Those With Cerebral Palsy

Wondering what to get a child or adult with cerebral palsy? As with those with ASD, there is a wide range of needs and abilities you’ll encounter with those who have cerebral palsy. In most cases, you’ll be looking for a gift that helps them develop gross and fine motor skills, as well as their communication skills. It should also stimulate them intellectually. So what kinds of gifts will do all of those things?

Some great gifts for individuals with cerebral palsy include stacking or building toys, especially those with larger pieces or blocks. These can help an individual with cerebral palsy practice their fine motor skills, but they are still large enough that they’re easy to grip.

Switchadapted games and toys are also a great option since physical limitations may prevent someone with cerebral palsy from being able to operate switches on mass-market toys. Enabling Devices even makes a variety of switchadapted art products for hours of creative play. Musical instruments or adapted electronics are also great options.

2. Gift Ideas for Those With Autism Spectrum Disorder

When it comes to figuring out a good gift for someone with ASD, it’s important to consider their developmental stage rather than their age alone. Think about their abilities and their limitations as you’re considering certain toys or gifts. As a general rule of thumb, soothing items such as weighted blankets, stuffed animals or a vibrating pillow can all be good options. If you’re looking for something they can play with, consider sensory toys such as a somatosensory tube, which emits soothing lights and vibrations.

Water toys, puzzles, light and movement projectors, ball pits and liquid motion toys are all other options when it comes to finding toys that encourage sensory stimulation while still providing a secure, calming experience.

3. Gift Ideas for Those With Visual Impairment

One of our most popular toys and learning tools, the Visually and Hearing Impaired Activity Center has the same features as its original sibling, but its bright blue tactile plate, pull-ball and textured bright yellow oval plate make it accessible to users who are visually impaired. The Musical Light Box helps users with visual impairment identify shapes and objects, practice writing skills and create arts and crafts.

Sensory Gifts for Special Needs

Those with sensory differences process sounds, smells, sights, tastes and touch in unique ways. In some cases, they may be comforted by certain sounds, smells and sights. In fact, kids with different sensory needs tend to gravitate toward things they can touch and “fidget” with because the repetitive motions of touching, stroking or squeezing something help them to self-regulate and soothe when they’re otherwise unable to focus or stay calm.

In other cases, these same sensory experiences invoke feelings of agitation or fear and cause meltdowns or tantrums, especially in the case of loud noises, harsh smells or bright lights. When it comes to sensory gifts for people with disabilities, there are several different directions you can take.

Sensory Gifts

1. Calming Lights

Enabling Devices offers a variety of calming lights to be used on their own or included in a home, therapy or sensory space. Depending on the individual’s needs, they can provide a sense of calm or they can provide needed stimulation. Among our favorites are the LED Light Illuminators, which can be programmed to cycle through all the colors in the rainbow. The great thing about these lights is that you can adjust the level of brightness they project, as well as the speed at which they cycle through the colors.

2. Cosmic Liquid Tiles

Enabling Devices Cosmic Liquid Tiles encourages the improvement of gross motor skills. It also gives individuals with sensory processing disorders the opportunity to step, jump, dance or hop in the security of their own home. It’s also a great way to encourage physical activity in a child or adult who is unable or unwilling to spend much time outside.

3. Sensory Exploration Tent

This isn’t your average camping tent! The Sensory Exploration Tent is designed to provide positive sensory experiences in a safe, relaxing environment. The tent comes as part of a set that includes a weighted blanket, learning lamp, Gel lap pad and a variety of other soothing sensory items. The tent also has two openings, as well as a roof-top easy view screen that allows parents and caregivers to keep an eye on children or adults playing and relaxing inside.

4. Sensory Wall Panels

An interactive wall of various visual, auditory and tactile experiences excites users and supports their sensory awareness skills. Sensory Wall Panels are ideal for people with ASD or a sensory processing disorder who can benefit from discovery and play. With a wide range of options, including an infinity mirror, moving marbles, touch lights and musical fireworks, this gift is great for sensory stimulation. Enabling Devices Sensory Wall Panels also feature engaging colors and lights to promote calmness and interaction.

Why Puzzles Are Good for All

These days, puzzles aren’t just a box full of flat cardboard pieces waiting to be joined together. Enabling Devices offers a variety of puzzles designed for individuals with a variety of special needs. But why are puzzles such a great gift? Puzzles can help promote interactive learning, development of fine motor skills and even provide multi-sensory experiences. How is that possible? Puzzles can help children and adults with:

1. Sorting

Depending on the type of puzzle, the person putting it together — or taking it apart — will be required to sort pieces by color, shape and touch. Sorting the pieces correctly can help individuals engage and strategize to complete the task.

2. Attention Span

Putting together puzzles can help children and adults with ASD practice devoting their attention and focus on a specific topic or activity. Over time, as they begin to cultivate the ability to focus on one thing, they can attempt increasingly challenging puzzles.

3. Memory Improvement

Think of a puzzle as a tangible way to watch someone exercise their brain. As individuals learn to pay attention to what’s in front of them, they’ll begin to be able to focus on other things as well. Over time, they will learn to hear what their therapist or teacher is saying and retain the information for later.

4. Problem-Solving

Piecing together a puzzle is also a great way to help people of all actual and developmental ages and abilities practice their problem-solving skills. There is a lot of deductive reasoning that goes on when a person has to put something back together.

They have to follow clues and certain steps to arrive at the right answer — the completed puzzle — and they have to know how to backtrack or troubleshoot when they encounter obstacles. Puzzles provide a low-key, safe way to practice these skills they’ll need in school, work and the world around them.

5. Self-Esteem

It feels good when you see a completed puzzle. Regardless of what kind of puzzle it is or the skill level it requires, viewing a completed puzzle provides a sense of self-worth and accomplishment that makes individuals feel good about themselves. And when they feel good about themselves, they’ll feel more confident and able to handle other challenges they’re facing.

6. Fine Motor Skills

Your family member, friend or student can practice their fine motor skills when doing a puzzle by grasping and picking up each piece to place it in the correct spot. Handling the pieces is a great way to develop the muscles in the hands and wrists as they work carefully to fit the pieces together. Additionally, learning to manipulate the pieces to position them just right can help improve eye-hand coordination.

7. Socialization

Puzzles can be enjoyed individually, but they’re also fun to do with others. Individuals with functional needs can interact with peers and adults as they work together to complete the picture. This allows everyone involved to feel included in achieving their goal and encourages users to listen to one another. For example, you might guide them to look for blue pieces or prompt them to tell you which ones are corner pieces.

Visual and Light Toy Gifts

Visual and light toy gifts can be stimulating or calming — depending on the toy or item you’re considering. In some cases, soothing lights and lamps can create a calm atmosphere. They can be used in a sensory room or any space that is used to calm children or adults with sensory differences. Why does light have a calming effect? Soft lights in a variety of colors are soothing.

If you know someone with ASD or other unique sensory needs, lights can help them through a meltdown or decompress after being in a situation that left them feeling overloaded. Certain types of lamps can emit light in a rhythmic motion and this motion can also add to the calm.

In other cases, lights can be used in sensory stimulation exercises designed to increase attention span, decrease boredom or practice a variety of sensory-motor skills. Among the visual and light toy gifts Enabling Devices sells, consider some of these favorite options:

  • Spinning disco ball: The Disco Ball projects a kaleidoscope of colors on the wall or ceiling. It has a variety of uses, depending on the needs of the child or adult using it. It can provide a calming effect because of the soft lights it produces, or it can be used to help with increasing attention and color recognition.
  • Sensory light: The Fiber Optic Sensory Light is another great addition to any sensory space. The switch-activated sensory light alternates between five different colors that cycle through the color-changing crystals in the base and up through the fiber optic spray at the top. This relaxing light can create a calming effect in any room, but it’s also a great tool for improving visual attention and teaching cause and effect.
  • Motion lamp: If you’re looking for a light toy or visual gift, consider the Jellyfish Lamp. When you turn it on, incredibly lifelike jellyfish float and sway to the motion of the water inside. Besides providing calming lights and something interesting to look at, this lamp is designed to increase visual attention and learn cause and effect.

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Communicator Gifts for Those With Special Needs

Communication Devices — also known as Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices — are designed to help individuals express themselves in ways that don’t rely on verbal communication. There are a wide variety of devices available for all levels of needs, and they can be a great gift idea for speech or non-voice communicators.

Beginning communicators will enjoy telling jokes, greeting friends or singing songs with the simple, easy-to-use Big Talk communicator, while more advanced communicators will find new ways to express themselves with the Cheap Talk 8 – 6-Levels. This best-selling communicator has space to record 48 five-second messages on six levels. For those with verbal and visual limitations, the Adjustable Angle Sequencer w/ Switch offers 300 seconds of recording time, as well as a large switch identified by a set of LED lights at the center.

The Best Soft and Cuddly Toys for Special Needs

Plush toys are a great option for children and adults with special needs because they provide somatosensory stimulation. What does that mean? The somatosensory system is the body’s sensory system that registers touch — pressure, pain, vibration, temperature and movement.

Because these are all neurological impulses, in some cases, individuals may experience hypersensitivity or difficulty regulating these impulses. Having something soft and cuddly to hold is comforting, but the vibrations that they emit can also provide stimulation and relaxation when it’s needed most.

Some of Enabling Devices’ most beloved cuddly toys include the Vibrating Rabbit and Floppy Bunny. Just activate your capability switch, and Floppy hops and wiggles his nose. These plush toys are designed to improve tactile awareness and increase sensory stimulation, but they also serve to provide comfort and companionship to their owner.

Weighted toys can also be very soothing and engaging for anyone. Whether they’re on a long car ride or needing a bit of quiet time, the Cuddly Dog Weighted Lap Pad provides a grounding, calming sensation for many users. Individuals of any actual and developmental age can enjoy cuddling this five-pound weighted plush toy against their chest and experience comfort and sensory engagement.

Art Toys and Gifts

Art transcends age, stage and a variety of interests and abilities. It is a wonderful way for people to express themselves. It provides a creative and therapeutic outlet, as well as numerous educational opportunities.

If you’re looking for toys and gifts to ignite the spark of creativity or fan the flame, consider Enabling Devices’ Musical Swirl Art kit. Just pour the paint into the spinner, insert a piece of paper, and then activate your switch and watch as beautiful painted patterns and designs come to life before your eyes! While the machine is swirling the paint, it also plays music and multi-colored blinking lights to inspire artists and maintain the focus of the artist at work. If you’re looking for a practical benefit to this gift, it’s a great way to improve color recognition and listening skills!

Gifts for the Music Lover

Music can be a fun and soothing experience for those with special needs, so gift them their very own musical toy!

1. CD Player

Make all their favorite sounds accessible with the CD Boom Box, a switch-adapted device equipped with a CD player, AM/FM radio and cassette recorder.

2. iPad Accessories

If they have an iPad, consider gifting them with some accessories to make listening to their favorite tunes easier than ever! Choose an iPad stylus designed to help make musical selections with your head, hand or mouth or gift them with one of our iPad mounts that holds their technology right where they need it.

3. Switch-Adapted Guitar

Some individuals may not be ready for a stereo or other electronic device but still enjoy musical activities. If this sounds like them, consider the B Woofer Guitar. Choose from several types of guitars and hear nearly 30 different tunes with this fun toy. This switch-adapted toy also offers eight different chord options so little musicians can make their own music when they’re done listening to music from others!

4. Five-in-One Drum Set

Everyone can rock out with Band Jam, the battery-operated drum set that features the sounds of five different percussion instruments, as well as flashing LED lights. This is a great way for your little musician to explore and learn about musical instruments, as well as develop their appreciation for the music around them.

5. Music Machine Set

If music performance is their thing, give them the Music Machine Set. This three-instrument set produces great sounds, providing hours of entertainment! An adapted toy like the Music Machine allows users to interact with instruments like cluster bells, a maraca and a tambourine with a drumstick.

They can use a switch to activate the striking arm on the musical stand to produce delightful sounds and rhythms. This gift can help musicians learn about cause and effect as one arm holds the instrument and the other moves to create sound.

6. Misty the Whale

If you’re looking for something musical that can also be cuddled, Misty the Whale may be the perfect gift. This popular plush toy calms users with changing colors, ocean sounds and a four-minute tune to improve visual attention and provide a soothing effect. This toy can be used with or without a capability switch. They can also adjust the volume level to their needs while they squish Misty the Whale in a big hug.

Shop With Enabling Devices

When it comes to shopping for gifts for children and adults with disabilities, it’s important to stop and think about their unique personalities and interests, as well as their own special needs. If you aren’t sure what kind of gift they’d appreciate, there’s no shame in asking them — or their parent — for some guidance or suggestions. If you’re still not sure how to select the right gift for that special person in your life, Enabling Devices can help.

Our goal is to develop and promote products that help children and adults with special needs lead joyful, fulfilling lives. We never want to see someone miss out just because they didn’t know a certain product existed. We want to get those products into the hands of the people who need them the most.

If you’re looking for gift ideas, then look no further than Enabling Devices. Our wide selection of products offers something for everyone, and it’s sure to make your holiday shopping easier than ever! Browse our online store or contact us today to start shopping!

Shop With Enabling Devices

10 Holiday Gifts They’ll Love!

Young Girl with Christmas Present next to a Christmas Tree

With Turkey Day in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look ahead to that time-honored tradition — shopping for holiday gifts, of course!

In years past, we’ve written about why doing your holiday shopping online can save time, energy and sanity! This year, you can add health to the list. With Enabling Devices’ website and digital catalog, you can find everything you need for that special someone while staying safely socially distanced. Not sure what to gift? Here are some suggestions:

 1. For the Techie
iPad Wireless Sw new versionConsider an iPad Wireless Switch (#1164). This switch, which comes in two styles—one switch or two switches—will provide access to hundreds of compatible apps. Works through Bluetooth 4.0 for simple pairing and has a range of over 50 feet. It also works as a regular capability switch for other switch-adapted products.

 2. For the Music Lover
Band JamOur Band Jam (#1115) has everything a musician needs for a rocking rhythm section. This compact set plays the sounds of a tambourine, triangle, drum, cymbal or maraca with the touch of one of its five buttons.

 3. For the Visual Artist
Color her world with our adapted Swirl Art spinner (#380). Terrific for encouraging color recognition, and increasing visual attention, the spinner comes with 12 paints in 6 colors, 30 sheets of paper, and a splash guard to keep your workspace tidy.

 4. For the Communicator
4-Level Communication BuilderIf your loved one has a lot to say, give him the gift of language with our 4-Level Communication Builder (#7077W). Equipped with five interchangeable frames, this progressive communication device keeps pace with the user’s growing language skills.

 5. For the Game Player
BingoFamily game nights are fun and inclusive with our adapted board games. Choose from games like Monopoly Junior (#9410X); Matching Picture Lotto Bingo (#943); or our classic Bingo set (#4051). Make your own games accessible with our High Roller adapted dice set (#757).

 6. For the Sensory Seeker
Crash PadCreate a sensory space in your own home with some of our popular sensory products. Begin with our LED Light Illuminators (#9228W). Then add a Crash Pad (#3139); Magical Light Show (#1672) and some Vibrating Animals (#9300W).

 7. For the Gadget Guy
Gardening is so much easier with our Adapted Garden Spray (#9083). Likewise, cooking is more appetizing with a set of adapted Pouring Cups (#20W). And a pair of Adapted Battery Operated Scissors (#9080) makes a great gift for crafter in your life.

 8. For the Home Bodies
Gel Lap PadWeighted products are all the rage these days. Kids will love our Zoo Weighted Blanket (#3992) with cute pictures of zoo animals, and our weighted Gel Lap Pad (#3142) full of squishy sparkling gel. Especially for the holiday season, Zoo Weighted Blankets are on sale through Dec. 31.

 9. For the Plush Toy Collector
Our Whimsical Buddies Bundle (#4099) aren’t just cuddly; they also light up and play soothing songs and sounds. The youngest folks on your holiday list will love ABC Elmo (#2135). On sale through New Year’s Eve, everybody’s favorite Muppet teaches little ones their ABCs.

10. For the Holiday Lover
Holiday Toy Sale 2023.Rev2Our Holiday Toys will light up the holiday season! Choose from Rockin’ Robbie the singing Christmas tree, Tangled Tabby or Holly Jolly Express Train and get ready to celebrate! Grab a glittery holiday gumball switch to go with the toy. See our holiday toys in action on our website!

7 Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving with Zoom

Thanksgiving Dinner Table with Roast Turkey

There’s no getting around it. This year, Thanksgiving will be different. With COVID-19 cases skyrocketing across the country, most people will be staying close to home this holiday season. Yet, that doesn’t mean Thanksgiving can’t be special. Thanks to Zoom, the widely-used video communication platform, one of America’s most cherished holidays is still something worth celebrating. And more good news: This Thanksgiving, Zoom will rescind its usual 40-minute limit for free calls. You can party for as long as you like at no charge whatsoever!

1. Zoom Get-togethers
Though we can’t congregate in big groups this Thanksgiving, Zoom celebrations are the next best thing. In years past, many of our holiday posts have discussed techniques for making travel and social gatherings less stressful for families living with disability. Many of these holiday stressors are eliminated with a Zoom celebration. There are no worries about long flights or car rides; no concerns that your child will act out, become over-stimulated or find nothing to eat at a relative’s home. Your child can come in and out of the family Zoom party as often as she pleases, taking breaks whenever she needs them.

2. Food Doorsteps Exchange
Before you start bemoaning the fact that you won’t be able to enjoy Aunt Joan’s famous pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving, CJ Robles of Tech Times encourages you to consider a food doorsteps exchange. “For extended families and friends living within a close distance, assign a Thanksgiving recipe for each household through email or messaging app. Then, each family shares portions for all households and delivers them at their doorsteps at a set drop-off schedule. While you would only cook one dish, you will have several dishes to eat at supper.” Ta da! Problem solved!

3. Zoom Games
Before and after Turkey time, try playing a game over Zoom. Enabling Devices’ adaptive Monopoly Junior, Hi Ho Cherry-O, and Bingo are all translatable to Zoom and provide hours of fun. Or, play a trivia game using an online idea generator to provide challenging questions. CNN recommends sending “family members on scavenger hunts around their respective houses for specific (and Thanksgiving-themed) items.” Report back to extended family members on what you’ve found.

4. Zoom Concerts and Singalongs
Zoom is a great way to share music with family and friends. As Robles suggests: “Each household can pick a song to play or sing with the family while others can join in the middle of the performance.” Check out Enabling Devices’ adaptive musical instruments such as its musical cymbal, drum, and band set. Now the whole extended family can chime in.

5. Zoom Art Projects
Create a Thanksgiving-themed work of art from your respective homes. After everyone has completed their projects, play Zoom show and tell. Enabling Devices’ Adapted Color Spin-out and Adapted Battery Operated Scissors make it easy for everyone to participate.

6. Virtual Story-telling
Chose one or more story-tellers from participating families to read a holiday-inspired book, tell a story from their own life, or spin a tale on the fly. Alternatively, families can create a story together by giving each member a chance to add on.

7. Share Your Gratitude Lists
Many families share gratitude lists around their Thanksgiving tables. Though we may be seated in different homes, we can still share our gratitude with loved ones.

The Joffrey Ballet Company Presents Inclusive “Nutcracker”

Two ballerinas with disabilities

It’s “Nutcracker season” — the time of the year when ballet companies around the world entertain audiences with performances of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s classic Christmas ballet, “The Nutcracker.”

First performed in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1892, “The Nutcracker” didn’t become a holiday custom in the United States until the mid-20th century. The two-act ballet tells the story of a young girl and her favorite Christmas gift — a nutcracker who comes to life on Christmas Eve.

This season, the elite, Chicago-based Joffrey Ballet’s “Nutcracker” will include roles for Emma Lookatch and Larke Johnson, two young dancers with cerebral palsy, from the Joffrey’s adaptive dance program. The program serves students with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, down syndrome and other disabilities.

The inclusion of a dancer with a disability isn’t really new to the Joffrey’s “Nutcracker.” The company’s former artistic director Gerald Arpino first created a role for a dancer with a disability in 1997 after 8-year-old Stephen Hiatt-Leonard, who has cerebral palsy, auditioned for the ballet’s children’s cast.

Emma and Larke aren’t really new to “The Nutcracker” either. Both danced in the Joffrey’s “Nutcracker” production in 2015 — the last year that the Joffrey performed company founder Robert Joffrey’s version of “The Nutcracker.”

In 2016, the Joffrey’s “Nutcracker” was re-envisioned by Tony Award-winning choreographer Christopher Wheeldon. Wheeldon’s version is set at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, (also known as the Chicago World’s Fair), twenty years after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Wheeldon’s “Nutcracker” also portrays a family and community markedly different than the ones in the traditional “Nutcracker.”

As described by WTTW’s Hedy Weiss: “… rather than focusing on the Christmas celebrations of the usual well-to-do family historically at the ballet’s center (whether set in Europe or, as in the long-lived version by Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino, in an upscale Victorian-era New York household), it focused on the community of cash-strapped immigrant artisans and laborers who lived and worked in the shadow of the fair.”

Emma and Larke will share the role of “Worker Girl,” a character who appears in Act 1 during the ballet’s iconic Christmas Eve party scene. The teens will dance in a late nineteenth century-era wheelchair.

Suzanne Lopez, who danced in Robert Joffrey’s version of “The Nutcracker” for 20 years, is now in charge of “The Nutcracker’s” children’s cast. Speaking with the Chicago Tribune recently, Lopez said Wheeldon “absolutely loved the idea [of bringing in dancers from the adaptive dance program] and thought it was a lovely way to honor the legacy of Joffrey and Arpino. … Also,” added Lopez, “this particular version of ‘The Nutcracker’ is so much about community. What better representation than that, that people come to the theater and look up on stage and everybody feels represented?”

Six Tips for Maintaining Your Child’s Routine during the Holiday Season

Boy with Autism Holding Pumpkins with his Grandfather

It’s taken months, but you’ve finally gotten your special needs child into a healthy routine. Now that she’s on a regular sleep schedule and eating a healthy diet, you’re actually seeing positive results! Yet, as the holidays approach, you fear she’ll be unable to sustain all the progress. How can you, your child and the rest of the family enjoy holiday festivities without throwing away all the gains your child has made? We’ve gathered some tips to minimize the backsliding and maximize the joys of the season.

Prepare your child
Children with special needs — especially those on the autism spectrum — thrive on routine and may find change extremely disruptive. You can minimize negative responses to unfamiliar events or schedule changes by preparing your child in advance. The Autism Awareness Centre recommends using a visual calendar with pictures that explain upcoming activities, or creating a social story that tells your child what to expect. In both cases, make sure to review calendars and social stories with your child and address any concerns ahead of time.

Sleep is sacred!
No one’s at their best when they don’t get sufficient sleep, especially children with special needs. During the holidays, sleep schedules frequently fall by the wayside. But even if your child’s bedtime is later than usual, preserve pre-bedtime rituals like bathing and story-telling. You can also try building in time for extra sleep by providing naps for little ones or allowing older children to sleep later than usual. According to, children 1-2 years old require 11-14 hours of sleep per night; ages 3-5 need 10-13 hours; and ages 6-13 need 9-11 hours.

Limit sugary foods
As we all know, holiday treats are almost impossible to avoid. Indeed, they’re part of the holiday experience for many of us. Forbidding your child to indulge in any of these delectable goodies is likely to backfire. So, unless he has a life-threatening food allergy or maintains a special diet, decide on limits around sugar intake, and be prepared to enforce them.

Uphold your child’s special diet
If your child has food allergies or is on a gluten or casein free diet, help him stick to it, by offering special gluten and casein-free treats. These days, there are many books    and online resources that specialize in these diets. One online resource is Rachael Roehmholdt’s 100 Holiday Gluten-free, Dairy-free Recipes. Additionally, don’t assume that holiday hosts will have gluten and casein-free foods on hand. Instead, come prepared with foods your child can eat. Similarly, if your child is a picky eater, don’t        force her to try unfamiliar foods at a holiday event. Play it safe by packing her favorite foods and allowing her to eat them while the rest of the family enjoys traditional holiday fare.

Don’t come hungry
We’re often told to “bring our appetites” to holiday get-togethers. But bringing a hangry child to a social event can be unpleasant for everyone. Always carry healthy snacks to ensure that your child’s behavior isn’t compromised by a lack of food.

Encourage physical activity
Eating tons of sugar and being physically inactive are a recipe for disaster for many children. Be sure to find time to get children outside for some fresh air and exercise. Wheelchair users can benefit from tossing a ball or participating in a wheelchair race. If you’re traveling and staying in a hotel, consider booking one with a swimming pool. Taking a pool break with the kids can improve everyone’s mood and minimize the negative effects of overindulging.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Enabling Devices!

8 Tips for Traveling on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Parade Float with Sponge Bob

According to the Automobile Association of America (AAA), more than 55 million people will be traveling this Thanksgiving.  In fact, AAA reports that Thanksgiving 2019 “will be the second-highest Thanksgiving travel volume since AAA began tracking in 2000.”

Holiday travel isn’t easy under any circumstances and traveling with kids makes it more challenging. When your child has a disability, it can be even more difficult. We’ve compiled the following list of holiday travel tips that will minimize your stress. Here’s wishing you and yours a safe, happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

Do some research
If you’re traveling by car, educate yourself about the best places to stop for bathroom and food breaks. This is especially important if your child uses a wheelchair. If your child is medically fragile, find out about hospitals, pharmacies and clinics near your destination to be prepared should any unexpected problems arise.

Call TSA
TSA (Transportation Security Administration) offers passenger support for travelers with disabilities. To have all your concerns addressed before flying, contact TSA Cares at least 72 hours before your flight. You can also request a TSA Passenger Support Specialist if you encounter any difficulties at the airport.

Consider travel insurance
Though travel insurance adds to the significant expense of flying, it may be worth the investment, especially when traveling with medically fragile children. Hopefully, you will not need to use it but you’ll be grateful that you have it should you need to cancel your trip.

 Pack your carry-on bag carefully
Make sure to pack your child’s favorite stuffed animal or blanket, books, coloring supplies or anything that will keep your child occupied and calm during long waits in airports or on trains and buses. Bring healthy snacks and drinks and don’t forget to pack an extra change of clothes and extra medication. If you’re driving, consider suspending any screen-time rules and allow children to use iPads to play games or watch movies. We’re in survival mode here!

Prepare your child for security protocols
If your child is on the autism spectrum, or simply anxious about new or unexpected situations, discuss airport security processes in advance. You might also create a social story to help your child understand what to expect at the airport.

Check out airport resources
In recent years, some airports have added sensory rooms where people with disabilities and all stressed out travelers can enjoy some relaxation in between flights. See this recent Enabling Devices’ blogpost for more information.

 Alert hosts to your child’s special needs
Whether you’re visiting friends, family or staying at a hotel, letting your hosts know about your child’s needs before you arrive can make everyone more comfortable. For more hints about lessening stress around holiday gatherings, check out some of Enabling Devices’ blogposts.

Don’t expect perfection
When traveling with kids, meltdowns, whining and a certain amount of drama is inevitable. With any luck, your journey will unfold with as little as possible. So, take a deep breath and soldier on. Hopefully, it will all have been worth it when you reach your destination.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Enabling Devices!


Happy Halloween! Two Months Early!

a child in a wheelchair dressed as a pirate

Yes, we know it’s August. And yes we know that Halloween is more than two months away. But when we heard the news about Target’s new line of adaptive, sensory-friendly Halloween costumes with coordinating wheelchair covers we couldn’t wait to tell you! We wanted to make sure that everyone who wants these costumes (and who wouldn’t?) can get them before they’re all sold out.

For the past several years, Enabling Devices’ blog has featured ideas for incorporating wheelchairs into Halloween costumes. But let’s face it. Creating those costumes takes both time and talent, rare commodities for most of us. Finally, there’s a solution!

This Halloween, Target will offer two themed wheelchair covers — a carriage cover fit for your fairy princess; and a pirate ship cover that accommodates your seafaring marauder. The covers “easily attach to a wheelchair using hook and loop closures for a secure fit,” according to a press release from Target Corporate. Adaptive princess and pirate costumes with back openings and “wheelchair-friendly designs” complete the looks.

And that’s not all! Target is also debuting two sensory-friendly costumes so kids with sensory processing disorders and other sensitivities can comfortably dress up as unicorns and sharks. The costumes “feature flat seams and are tag-less for an ultra-comfy feel,” notes the press release.

“Every child deserves to bask in the fun of a special moment,” says Julie Guggemos, senior vice president, Owned Brand Management and Product Design at Target. “And … we’re out to make sure even more kids get that chance this Halloween.”

This is not Target’s first foray into the world of adaptive and sensory-friendly merchandise. Its Cat & Jack adaptive apparel has been on the market since Oct. 2017 and the release of the store’s Pillowfort sensory-friendly household items was announced in April 2019.

“We’ve seen how little design details in our Cat & Jack adaptive apparel and Pillowfort sensory-friendly pieces can have a huge impact,” says Guggemos. “Now we’re bringing that same spirit of inclusivity to our new Hyde & EEK! Boutique kids’ costumes. We hope these creations will spark some huge smiles—and bring a little extra joy to our guests’ everyday lives.”

Here’s hoping that Target adds more options to its adaptive collection in time for next Halloween!

Please note: Target’s Hyde & EEK Boutique! adaptive Halloween collection is available only online. So don’t wait. Get ready for Halloween today!