Strive for a Sensory-friendly Holiday Season

Girl in Santa Hat in Front of Christmas Tree

For many of us, the Christmas holiday season is the happiest time of the year. It’s a time to celebrate with family and friends, to give and receive gifts, to sample delicious baked treats and enjoy the beauty of holiday lights, decorations and caroling. But for children with sensory processing disorders, Christmas can present significant sensory integration challenges. Here are some steps that will help make the holidays happy for every member of the family.

Turn down the lights
Though most children with sensory processing disorders enjoy the stimulation they receive from music and colorful, flashing lights, the holiday season may offer too much of a good thing. If you’re planning a trip to a Christmas lights display in your neighborhood, prepare your child in advance, and don’t over-do it. Make sure your child is well-rested and well-fed before making the excursion and set a time limit that takes your child’s sensory needs into account.

Beware of crowds
During the holiday season, we are more likely than ever to encounter large groups of people. Whether it’s holiday shopping at the mall, or attending a party or family gathering, large crowds can be overwhelming to children with sensory processing disorders. If you must take your child shopping, choose times when the stores are likely to be less crowded. Some malls are even designating certain shopping hours for families with children with sensory challenges. Likewise, when attending a big party, make sure you leave before your child becomes tired and over-stimulated. Bring along some of your child’s favorite toys or videos, and make sure there’s a quiet place where he can unwind if he needs to take a break from the action.

Lower the volume
Holiday music, Christmas carols and large groups of people can be too noisy for many children with sensory processing disorders. Noise cancelling headphones can make the difference between a child who’s having a melt-down and a child who’s enjoying holiday activities.

Respect your child’s tactile sensitivities
Sure, it’s disappointing when your child refuses to wear the special holiday outfit you’ve purchased for family photos! But forcing her to wear clothing that makes her physically uncomfortable is a no-win situation. Instead, choose an outfit you know she’ll enjoy wearing, even if it’s the same one she likes to wear every day.

Some children don’t like to be touched — especially by people they don’t know. Never insist that your child receive a hug or a kiss from a friend or relative against his wishes.

Whenever possible, stick to your child’s schedule
Many children with sensory processing disorders thrive on routine. But during the holiday season, routines are much harder to follow. While some flexibility is necessary, your child is likely to be a great deal happier if you adhere to his routine. For example, on evenings when no parties or family excursions are planned, follow his normal bedtime routine. Likewise, attempt to maintain your child’s usual diet and do your best to prevent her from binging on too many sweets.

 

The Perfect Gift for People with Disabilities

Young Girl with Christmas Present next to a Christmas Tree

How do you find the perfect gift for everyone on your list? It starts by reflecting on the unique likes, dislikes, interests and talents of each family member, friend and colleague. To simplify the process, Enabling Devices has created a system to help you to match gift recipients with the perfect gifts.

For the music lover
Make all her favorite sounds accessible with our CD Boom Box (#393). On sale through Dec. 24, this switch adapted device is equipped with a CD player, AM/FM radio and cassette recorder. If music performance is his thing, give him the Bongo Drums (#756). This two-drum set produces great sound providing hours of entertainment!

 For the multisensory learner
The Peek-a-Boo Mirror (#348) engages visual, tactile, and auditory senses with its mirror, music, lights, and vibration! A great toy for independent or group play. The Mini Dome (#72) is another great choice for multisensory play. This toy increases auditory, visual and tactile attention while teaching cause and effect.

For the visually impaired learner
One of our most popular toys and learning tools, the Visually Impaired Activity Center (#520) has the same features as its original sibling, but its bright blue tactile plate, pull-ball, and textured bright yellow oval plate makes it accessible to users who are visually impaired. The Musical Light Box (#200) helps to teach visually impaired users to identify shapes and objects, practice writing skills and create arts and crafts.

For the sensory seeker
Starry Night (#9117) provides calming sounds and twinkling stars to light up your room. Listen to birds, brooks, ocean waves and rain. Our Somatosensory Tube (#402) rewards the user with glowing lights, gentle vibrations and soothing music when you move the tube.

For the aspiring communicator
Beginning communicators will enjoying telling jokes, greeting friends or singing songs with the simple, easy-to-use Big Talk (#4200W) communicator, while more advanced communicators will find new ways to express themselves with the Cheap Talk 8 – 6-Levels (#2391W). This best-selling communicator has space to record 48 five-second messages on six levels.

For the artist
The Adapted Color Spinout (#3822) is a wonderful gift for creative people who enjoy making colorful designs and patterns with the press of a switch.

For the cuddler
Not only is the Vibrating Seal (#9300) cute and cuddly, he also gently vibrates. Floppy Bunny (#150) is almost as much fun as having a real pet rabbit. Just activate his capability switch and Floppy hops and wiggles his nose.

For the water lover
Children who enjoy water play will love Bubble Bandit (#2254) whose silly mouth blows bubbles galore! The Jellyfish Lamp (#3286) provides an exciting spectacle: two life-like jellyfish that float and sway in the water when you activate your switch.

 

Making the Holiday Season Your Own

Two Thanksgiving Toy Pilgrims

Thanksgiving comes early this year and you know the drill: Minimize your stress; strive for peace over perfection and when it comes to gift buying, save some steps and a whole lot of aggravation and shop Enabling Devices. In between, find precious time to connect to family and friends. Though the holiday season can be busy, it also provides a wealth of opportunities to make memories, establish traditions and enjoy special events. Here are some of the best ways that families with children with special needs can enjoy Thanksgiving.

One-on-one activities or outings
Thanksgiving often means socializing with big groups of people, a scenario that isn’t ideal for many people on the spectrum. Be sure to set aside time for one-on-one parent/child activities and/or projects that your child and other close family members or friends can enjoy together. As Karen Wang of the Friendship Circle suggests: Try “building relationships by approaching one person at a time and doing some type of activity together – for example, sewing with Grandma or making breakfast with Aunt Maggie.This allowed each person to learn how to communicate with my son and improved my son’s comfort level – no more questions fired rapidly and loudly across the room at him.”

Allow your child to lead a group activity that centers around his special interest
Many children with special needs have passions that they love to share with others. So whether your child is obsessed with anime, Thomas the Tank Engine, Disney movies or baseball trivia, create a time-limited game or activity around his passion.

Help your child cook a special holiday dish
Cooking is a great parent/child bonding activity. It also builds confidence and pride.  And bonus:  If you and your child prepare a dish she enjoys eating, she’ll anticipate Thanksgiving dinner with enthusiasm.

Sensory-friendly Activities
Nowadays, many entertainment, sports venues and restaurants are knowledgeable about the sensory needs of children with disabilities. Some of these offer sensory-friendly performances, holiday shopping hours and other opportunities so that children with special needs can enjoy holiday activities that might otherwise be uncomfortable for them and their families. Some shopping malls have even begun offering sensory-friendly visits with Santa!

Take steps to make Thanksgiving dinner fun for all
Try not to get caught up in a fantasy of what Thanksgiving dinner is supposed to be. Instead, make the holiday your own by modifying to meet your family’s need and priorities. For example, if your child’s not a turkey fan, give him another option. The vegetarians and vegans that may very well be at your table will thank you!

If you know your child won’t be able to stay at the table for more than 20 minutes, don’t force the issue. Let her leave the table to watch a video, color, or read a book. Alternatively, consider having a less formal Thanksgiving buffet where everyone is free to roam around.

Though some people love cooking favorite family recipes and using their finest China and silver for Thanksgiving celebrations, others would rather keep it simple. Why not make it easy on yourself by having a Thanksgiving pot-luck, ordering some of the meal and using recyclable paper plates, cups and napkins.

Thanksgiving happens once a year. Make it a happy occasion!

Five Tips for Enjoying an Accessible Halloween

Boy in Wheelchair decorated as a Fire Truck for Halloween

With just over a week until Halloween, it’s high time for Enabling Devices’ annual accessible Halloween post. Kudos if you’ve got this under control, but life — especially when you have a child with special needs — can be overwhelming, and sometimes we just can’t avoid waiting until the eleventh hour. If you’re scrambling to make holiday preparations for a child who uses a wheelchair, here are some ideas to make this Halloween a smashing success.

Safety First
A safe Halloween is a happy one, so take precautions when planning your child’s accessible costume. Some hints from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation include: wearing costumes that are bright and reflective; making sure that costumes aren’t long enough to get stuck in the chair’s wheels; avoiding masks that block eye-sight and using non-toxic makeup to prevent allergic reactions.

Last minute planning
Design a trick-or-treating route that is wheelchair accessible and meets all of your child’s needs. For example, make sure the route includes sidewalks with curb-cuts, homes without stairs and is not overly long. If your child has special dietary needs, consider providing neighbors with treats that comply with his nutritional guidelines.

Incorporate the wheelchair
Nonprofits such as Magic Wheelchair and Walkin’ and Rollin’ Costumes create accessible costumes for wheelchair users. Many of these costumes incorporate the children’s wheelchairs into their costumes. For example: the wheelchair can be fashioned into a princess’ coach, an ice cream truck, a spaceship or a pirate ship. Though it’s too late to take advantage of the free services these organizations provide, they’re a great source of ideas and suggestions.

Take sensory issues into account
Some costumes may be physically uncomfortable or difficult for children with mobility challenges to put on or take off. Nowadays though, it’s relatively easy to find accessible clothing designed for wheelchair users. When designing a homemade costume, start with clothing that’s comfortable and accessible.

Consider alternatives
Trick-or-treating isn’t the only way to celebrate Halloween. Research other options such as neighborhood parties, costume contests or parades. Throwing a Halloween party in your home is another excellent idea. Your child may prefer the comforts and accessibility of her own space but will still be able to enjoy showing off her costume, socializing with friends, playing holiday-themed games, hearing spooky stories and indulging in holiday treats. Remember: It’s all about enjoying the festivities, whatever they may be.

Five Ways to Enjoy the Fourth of July

Father & Son Enjoying the Fourth of July

Independence Day. It’s the time for celebratory fireworks, family barbecues, pool parties and parades — past-times that most Americans anticipate with pleasure. Yet for children with sensory integration disorders and their parents, the loud noises, bright lights, strong odors, hot temperatures and big crowds associated with these activities may instead create feelings of anxiety, fear or even dread. If you’re a parent facing the Fourth of July holiday with trepidation, here are some suggestions for a stress-free celebration.

Prep your child
If you intend to take part in Fourth of July activities, make sure your child knows what to expect. You can prepare a social story about the holiday and read books that tell the story of Independence Day. If you’re attending a social event, tell your child what foods will be served and let him know who is likely to be there. Role-play social situations so your child is prepared to greet other guests and initiate play with other children at the event. If you’ll be attending a parade, try to find out about what floats, musicians and costumed characters will be part of the festivities so your child is prepared for who and what he will see and hear there.

Prepare your hosts
If you’re visiting friends or family, let them know what will work best for your child. Tell them about her sensitivities, favorite foods and find out if there’s a place in the house to where she can retreat if she runs out of steam and needs to decompress. Though it can seem daunting to share your child’s challenges with people outside the immediate family, those who care for you will likely be receptive and happy to help.

Pack a bag
Take along some easy-to-transport toys, sunscreen, sunhats, snacks, rain-gear and a sweatshirt in case of inclement weather. Pack some favorite books and DVDs if you suspect that your child will need time alone.

Be fireworks savvy
If you intend to watch fireworks, bring along noise canceling headphones and a weighted vest or blanket to help your child feel calm and comforted. Consider watching the fireworks from a window or on TV with the sound turned down. That way, children can enjoy the brilliant lights and colors of the fireworks, without the noise. Some children are drawn to the sound and spectacle of fireworks. Be sure to teach your child fireworks safety precautions.

Wait till next year
If after considering all the options, you determine that it’s just too stressful to venture out on the Fourth of July, give yourself and your child a break. Stay home, have a family game or movie night, eat good food and relax. Perhaps next year, your child will be ready to join the Fourth of July festivities.

Sensitive Santas Visit Malls Across the Country

It’s been more than a century since James Edgar, of Brockton Massachusetts became the first department store Santa Claus. Since then, visiting Santa at department stores and shopping malls has become an annual holiday tradition for generations of children. But until recently, children with disabilities often missed out on the fun. That’s because department stores and shopping malls, with their throngs of people, long lines, fluorescent lighting and super-stimulating atmospheres can be uncomfortable for children with autism, sensory integration disorders and other developmental disabilities. As Lucia Murillo, Autism Speaks’ assistant director of education research explains, “The abundance of sights, sounds, crowds and other sensory stimuli can easily trigger challenging behaviors that seem near-impossible to handle in a public place.”

Yet in 2011, disabilities activists from Autism Speaks and other organizations initiated partnerships with companies such as Cherry Hill Programs (which brings Santa and the Easter Bunny to venues across the country) to offer sensory-friendly “Santa experiences” for children with special needs. During these Santa experiences, stores and malls typically dim lights, turn off music, and keep crowds to a minimum by opening a couple of hours earlier than usual. Families can make appointments to meet with Santa, so there’s no need for waiting in line. Sensory friendly Santas receive training in how to interact with children with special needs. According to Disability Scoop, this holiday season, sensory-friendly Santa experiences will be available at more than 300 different locations across the country. That’s up from 180 locations in 2016! To locate a mall with a sensory Santa experience near you, visit Autism Speaks website.

In addition to sensory friendly Santa experiences, stores such as Target and Costco have also been offering sensory friendly or quiet shopping experiences for families with children with autism. For example, a Framingham, Massachusetts Target store partnered with the Asperger/Autism Network to offer a sensory friendly shopping event on Dec. 10. As NBC Boston reported, the store opened three hours early. “During those hours,” said NBC.com “the store will shut off music, dim lights and minimize flashing screens. There will also be a quiet corner where guests can relax.”

Need a toy for a special person? No need to go to the mall or a store. Just visit enablingdevices.com.

Nine Tips for Having a Peaceful Holiday Season

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” Or so the classic holiday song goes… While it’s true that the holiday season evokes traditions that many of us hold dear — opportunities for special times with family and friends, great food, parties and festive decorations — it can also bring added stress, particularly for families of children with special needs. As we enter the holiday season, here are some tips for keeping stress to a minimum and joy to a maximum.

1.  Make entertaining a team effort
If you love hosting holiday parties, go for it. But don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether that means hiring someone to serve and clean up, throwing a potluck rather than cooking for days, using paper plates, or even catering the meal, do whatever you need to do to manage your workload so you can enjoy your party.

2. Don’t be afraid to say no
Just because you receive an invitation, doesn’t mean you have to accept it. If you know your child needs a good night sleep, or is likely to be uncomfortable at a given holiday event, there’s no rule that says you can’t bow out gracefully. People who care about you will not be offended if you decline an invitation,” say the folks at the Friendship Circle. Simply explain that it will not work for your special family. Figure out which events and activities are must-dos and let go of the rest. Maybe opt for a quiet night at home instead.”

3. Prep your child
Most children benefit from being prepared for new situations. Children with special needs, particularly those on the autism spectrum, may need extra preparation to feel comfortable. One way to prepare children with autism is by “creating a visual story (a series of pictures or drawings)” suggest the folks at Autism Speaks. They also recommend tasting holiday foods beforehand, practicing social behaviors such as shaking hands, taking turns when opening gifts, and rehearsing how to behave if you receive a gift that you don’t like.

4. Prep your guests or hosts
If you’re visiting friends or family who aren’t familiar with your child, you may want to prepare them for what to expect. For example, “Help them to understand if the person with autism prefers to be hugged or not, needs calm discussions or provide other suggestions that will facilitate a smoother holiday season,” says the Autism Society. “If the individual becomes upset, it might also be helpful to coach others to remain calm and neutral to minimize behavioral outbursts.” Likewise, guests and hosts may appreciate your help when it comes to choosing appropriate gifts for your child.

5. Allow your child quiet time if necessary
If your child becomes overstimulated at a social function, help him to find a quiet spot where he can decompress. For example, if you are having visitors, have a space set aside for the child as his/her safe/calm space,” says the Autism Society. “The individual should be taught ahead of time that they should go to their space when feeling overwhelmed.”

6. Consider bringing a babysitter
If your child with special needs requires a great deal of one-on-one attention and supervision, consider bringing a babysitter who can focus on your child while you and her siblings take part in holiday activities.

7. Bring your own stuff
Feel free to bring your child’s favorite foods, toys, books or DVDs along to parties or family gatherings.  Encourage him to socialize and participate in party activities to the extent he is able, but once he’s reached his limit, let him chill out in front of a favorite DVD while you and the rest of the family parties on. Giving your child the freedom to be him or herself, will make it possible for everyone to have a more relaxed and enjoyable time.

8. Buy gifts online
Managing the mall can be a challenge at any time of year. During the holiday shopping season, it can be truly overwhelming, especially for children with special needs. Writing for The Mighty, Courtney Barnum recommends doing all your holiday shopping online. “The crowds, the noises, the lights, the smells, it’s a lot. Grocery shopping can be hard enough, but Christmas shopping is sometimes super tough,” says Barnum. “So, don’t feel guilty. If you can get it online, do it.” P.S. Don’t forget to shop Enabling Devices.com to find gifts for the special children in your life.

9. Treat yourself
As always, take care not to neglect your own needs. Buy yourself a gift, enjoy an adult’s night out, take a hot bath and perhaps most importantly, let go of perfectionism. Says Barnum of The Mighty: “The holidays are never perfect. We’re not living in a Norman Rockwell painting. All you should strive for is a peaceful and happy holiday.”

Halloween Checklist

Though Halloween is still several weeks away, chances are your children are eagerly anticipating the holiday, planning their costumes, and thinking about parties and trick-or-treating. If your child has special needs, Halloween can present some extra challenges. But none of these challenges are insurmountable. Check out these tips for a Happy Halloween!

Find the perfect costume
What child doesn’t love playing dress-up? Costumes provide children with the opportunity to pretend, fantasize and express their interests and creativity. If your child uses a wheelchair, incorporating the chair into her costume is a great way to go. Does he love NASCAR? Create a race-car from the wheelchair. Does she dream of being a princess? Turn her wheelchair into a coach. Check out Enabling Devices’ Halloween post from last year for more terrific ideas.

If your child has sensory issues, take care to choose a costume that fits comfortably and isn’t made of scratchy fabric that could spoil your child’s fun. That may mean avoiding store-bought costumes, masks, hats, face paint or other accessories that can irritate sensitive skin.

Prepare for the big day or night
Halloween is tons of fun, but it can also be kind of scary. If your child tends to become fearful or anxious, consider trick-or-treating during the day instead of at night, read books, sing songs and have discussions about what to expect during Halloween.

If your child has communication or social skills challenges, teach her what to say when neighbors answer the door, and practice how to give out candy when trick-or-treaters come to your door. If he uses a communication device, record a trick-or-treat message in time for the holiday.

Prior to Halloween, plot the route you will take when you trick-or-treat. There’s no need to take on the whole neighborhood. Even a few houses may be sufficient for your child.

 Consider dietary needs
Halloween is especially challenging for children with special diets. But how do you help your child to avoid candy and other sugary treats when trick-or-treating or attending parties at school? Autismfile.com has some good suggestions. “Stick with family and friends when selecting which homes to visit for trick-or-treating. People aware of special diet needs or unique behaviors will be prepared for you and your child,” says their website. Alternatively, you can provide your neighbors with healthy treats in advance, and they can give them to your child when he comes to their door.

Keep track of trick-or-treaters
Children on the autism spectrum can sometimes be wanderers. Make sure you or another responsible adult accompanies children when they trick-or-treat, to avoid any misadventures and ensure safety for all.

Throw a party
Having your own Halloween celebration give you more control over how the holiday plays out. Your child can choose decorations, treats, music and party activities so it’s likely that her anxiety will be a great deal more manageable. If mobility, or other physical disabilities make trick-or-treating a challenge, partying at home, where your child is comfortable, may be a great way to remove any obstacles to fun.

 Stay home if it’s right for your family
If Halloween shows up and your child isn’t in the mood, it’s OK to do Halloween “light.” Perhaps your child can have one friend over and they can watch a Halloween-themed movie and open the door for trick-or-treaters. If you sense that a successful Halloween is not in the cards this year, feel free to skip the festivities and stick with your child’s regular routine. Then, try again next year.

Seven Ways to have a Happy and Inclusive Valentine’s Day

It’s easy to dismiss Valentine’s Day as just a “Hallmark holiday,” but for many children, February 14 is a special date with great significance. Though children with profound cognitive disabilities may not be aware of the holiday, children with more moderate challenges, especially those who attend school alongside typically developing peers, are at least somewhat tuned into to the Valentine’s Day festivities. As a teacher, therapist or parent, how can you make Valentine’s Day a happy time for your child, students or clients? Here are some tips to make the kids in your life feel loved.

1.  Focus on friendship

Valentine’s Day is a great time to discuss love, friendship and kindness. Ask children to reflect on what it means to be a good friend and how we show love and kindness. Can they describe a time when they felt loved by a friend or family member?

2.  Have a love-themed story-time

Read developmentally appropriate books about love and friendship and then discuss them with your child or students. Some good choices for younger children include:  “Love Monster” by Rachel Bright, “Be a Friend” by Salina Yoon and “If You’ll be My Valentine,” by Cynthia Rylant.

3.  Adapt holiday crafts projects

Help children with special needs make Valentine’s Day cards for family members. Students with physical disabilities can use adapted art supplies including Enabling Devices’ adapted battery operated scissors, swirl art or color bug to create a card for a loved one.

4.  It’s not a popularity contest

If you’re a teacher, take precautions to ensure that every child in the class receives the same number of valentine cards. If you’re a parent and aren’t sure that your child’s teacher will be aware of this, make sure to bring it to his or her attention ahead of time.

5.  Teach social skills

Valentine’s Day is a good time to teach social skills to children with developmental delays. Social stories about Valentine’s Day or simply about friendship can help children on the autism spectrum or those who have social skills deficits for other reasons, learn how to be a good friend.

6.  Serve something for everyone

Be mindful of children’s special diets and make sure that everyone has a Valentine’s Day treat that accommodates their health needs.

7.  Plan a dance for teens with special needs

Teens with special needs desire love and romance just like typically developing peers. Back in 2015, athlete Tim Tebow and his foundation founded Night to Shine, a worldwide Valentine’s Day prom for teens with mental and physical disabilities. As Steve Helling reported in People, “For one night, people with mental and physical disabilities would be celebrated. They would walk the red carpet while dressed in tuxes and gowns. There would be hair, makeup and shoe shine stations. And, of course, there would be dancing.”

Each year since 2015, the event has grown bigger. This year, the foundation will throw 375 proms in 50 states and 11 countries. Even if there isn’t a Night to Shine prom in your neck of the woods, many schools and centers create their own Valentine’s Day dances for teens with special needs. Some dances are even designed to be sensory-friendly with attention paid to lighting and music volume. Dances offer teens with disabilities an opportunity to practice social skills, have fun, and maybe even find their valentines!

 

Holiday Greetings from Seth Kanor

Dear Friends:

It was about this time last year when I first joined Enabling Devices as the company’s CEO. My father, Dr. Steven E. Kanor, the company’s founder, had recently passed away, and I found myself rummaging around in his office. The desk was covered in notepads bursting with ideas, the drawers were stuffed with prototypes for communication devices; the bookshelves, packed with manufacturing supply catalogs; and scattered everywhere, still more prototypes for devices he thought might make somebody’s life better. There was also a lot of unopened mail, mostly from the many charities he supported: charities devoted to making somebody’s life, somewhere, better. That was his life’s mission. And standing in his office, surrounded by the very tangible evidence of that mission, I felt a duty, not only to honor his legacy, but also to move Enabling Devices ahead, embracing new technology and, as my father had always done, finding innovative ways to serve the people who use our products.

As I look back over the past year, I am pleased to report that the company is thriving. I only wish my dad could be here to see all the exciting developments that took place during 2016 and are in the works for 2017. Here are some of the highlights:

  • A new and easy to use catalog will be released in January
  • A new, accessible state-of-the-art website will launch in early spring
  • We developed new products for our sensory rooms
  • We broadened our sensory room outreach, designing spaces in centers that serve seniors
  • We are working to create more products for teens and adults
  • We are working to create more sports-oriented products

One of the best parts of my job is the time I spend visiting schools, clinics and medical facilities and meeting with the children, parents, teachers and therapists who use our products. During the meetings we have an opportunity to talk with them and learn more about what their needs are. This helps to inform our work. Based on what we hear, we can adapt our products and create new ones to better serve families, educators and therapists.

For example, on a recent visit to Pines Bridge School at BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services), one of the therapists told us that her students love playing with water. So we adapted a fan that blows mist. Using a switch, the children can control it and can enjoy feeling water on their skin whenever they like.

I am in awe of the people I have met during our visits. The passion of the occupational therapists, physical therapists and teachers who work with children with special needs is humbling. For them, the work is truly a higher calling. I’ve been similarly inspired by the families I’ve met. Parenting any child is demanding, but parenting a child with special needs demands a very special parent. And as hard as we work here at Enabling Devices, our work pales in comparison to the parents who inspire and astound us with their commitment, knowledge and grace. And the same is true for the siblings of those children with special needs.

One mother of a child with disabilities asked me if she could bring the child’s sister to meet with us. The sister, a high school student, had an idea for an app for use by people with special needs. The idea was terrific. So now this 15-year-old is working with us to make the app a reality.

There is so much talk lately about how our country is so divided. We read it in the newspaper; hear it on the radio. But that’s not what we see when we’re out in the community. We see people coming together for the well-being of others. I can’t tell you how proud it makes me to be even a small part of that communal effort.

And so all of us at Enabling Devices would like to thank you for letting us be a part of your lives, however small, and we want to wish you and your loved ones a happy holiday season. We look forward to serving you in the coming year.

Warmly,

Seth Kanor