How to Travel with a Stroller : Nine Best Lightweight Strollers (for Children with Special Needs)

It’s school break and maybe some of you have travel plans in mind.

Our kids are growing fast and before they go on their own or have friends of their own, we as parents would like to travel with them while they are young so they will have beautiful memories to remember.

Which kid would not like to see Mickey Mouse in Disney World? Or the Legoland? Or enjoy those fantastic roller coaster rides or those awesome animal shows in some famous theme parks ? Or the merry-go-round for the younger ones or your special kid?

For sure your child with special needs would be delighted to see awesome places and cartoon characters with their siblings and cousins.

Of course, we all know that some children with special needs have mobility issues because they develop late.

Related post: Special needs stroller: choosing the best for need and comfort

They learn how to walk and to run much later than kids their age.

But these should not stop you from letting them explore their environment, much more traveling even to places far from home, like where you ride an airplane.

So have you thought on how to travel with a stroller? 

Of course you want to go places with your special kid’s comfort in mind as much as possible.

Because he or she cannot walk long distances and gets tired easily or maybe still non-ambulatory, thus a stroller will be your best friend during your escapade.

I have looked at the nine best lightweight strollers out there for your children with special needs.

This post contains affiliate links. Please read the full affiliate disclosure here.

1. Bily BCS330HG Compact Easy-Fold Stroller

  • Product Dimension: 80 x 47 x 104.1 cm
  • Item weight: 14.3 lbs
  • Maximum weight to carry: 40 kg
  • Good for newborns up to 36 months old
  • With 5 point harnesses, adjustable foot rest
  • Available in sophisticated heathered gray or funky graffiti pattern
  • Click the image or here to see the price

Pros:

  • Multiple position seat recline and pivoting arm bar for safety and comfort
  • Ultra light-weight
  • Quick and easy one hand fold
  • More leg room for taller babies

Cons:

  • The brake pad which is in the middle of the bar gets kicked randomly and makes the stroller stop all of a sudden making the baby uncomfortable and might fall
  • It is not good for windy days
  • The wheels are small, thus, not very good for grassy areas and bumpy sidewalks
  • Cannot is small and cannot shield baby much from rain or sun
  • Toddler can topple back when lying flat because the back of the seat reaches only the baby’s shoulders, with no head support
  • No shoulder strap or luggage handle
  • No cup holder or tray

2. Kolcraft Cloud Plus Lightweight Stroller

  • Product dimension: 31.2 x 18 x 39 inches
  • Item weight: 11.8 lbs
  • Maximum weight to carry: 50 lbs
  • Comes with a three-tier, extended canopy to protect your baby from UV rays
  • 2 colors: fire red and slate
  • The seat reclines and offers 5-point safety restraint system
  • With a large storage basket for baby’s necessities
  • Comes with removable child tray to hold a cup and a juice and a parent tray with 2 drink holders
  • With one -year manufacturer warranty
  • Click the image or here to see the price

Pros:

  • With a peek-a-boo window to keep a watchful eye on your kid every time
  • Very lightweight, thus perfect for traveling and day trips
  • All- terrain wheels and front suspension offers a smooth ride
  • One-hand and self-standing fold which makes it convenient for travel

Cons:

  • Cannot recline completely flat.
  • Folding is not one-handed and a little tricky

3. Summer Infant 3D Lite Convenience Stroller

  • Product dimension: 41 x 8.75 x 10 in
  • Item weight: 15.87 lbs
  • Maximum weight to carry: 50 lbs
  • With stylish aluminum frame and large seating area
  • Comes with easy to fold frame and carry strap
  • 4 position recline with 5 point safety harness
  • Anti-shock front wheels and lockable rear wheels
  • Available in 9 colors
  • Comes with extra large storage basket, rear storage pocket and parent cup holder
  • Adjustable and removable canopy with flip-out sun visor
  • Click the image or here to see the price 

Pros:

  • Easy compact fold with carry strap
  • Can recline all the way back
  • Tall enough that a 6’3 person can push it without hunching over
  • Made of lead-free aluminum material which makes it very lightweight and durable
  • With additional padding for more comfort

Cons:

  • Cannot be cleaned with abrasive cleaners, solvents and bleach
  • The canopy sun visor is too high and cannot cover the kids’ eyes
  • The handle bars are quite tall for a short parent, thus uncomfortable for long walks

4. MacLaren Mark II Stroller

  • Product dimension: 78.3 x 48.3 x 105.5 cm
  • Item weight: 4.43 kgMaximum weight to carry: 24.9 kg
  • Comes in 2 colors: black and marina
  • ” The lightest full – size reclining buggy in the world “
  • With 2-position recline seat
  • Fits children from 6 months until 25 kg ( 55 lbs )
  • Four wheel suspension with replaceable wheels
  • Made of strong ultralight fabrics
  • With a removable, washable coordinating seat liner
  • Click the image or here to see the price

Pros:

  • Features state of the art designed chassis, air craft grade aluminum hexagonal tubing for greater strength and durability
  • With lifetime warranty- must register stroller with MacLaren within 60 days of purchase
  • Comes with extendable waterproof/UPF 50+ sun canopy and built-in sun visor
  • The breathable mesh center and panel inserts protect the baby
  • The handles are anti-microbial
  • With buggy ID tag and wind resistant rain cover that comes in handy when needed
  • Easy to fold

Cons:

  • On the pricey side
  • Cannot stand on its own when folded
  • Difficult to maneuver on bumpy streets or terrains

5. Summer Infant 3D Flip Convenience Stroller

  • Product dimension: 78.7 x 64.8 x 100.3 cm
  • Item weight: 8 kg
  • Maximum weight to carry: 22.7 kgWith 2 seat options of rear-facing ( up to 30 lbs ) or forward-facing ( up to 50 lbs )
  • Anti-shock front wheels
  • UV rays can be blocked with the large canopy peek-a-boo window
  • Easy to fold lightweight aluminum frame, with auto lock and strap
  • With easily accessible basket for baby’s needs and parents’ storage pocket and cup holder
  • Click the image or here to see the price

Pros:

  • The reversible design allows use for younger babies ( rear-facing ) to when they grow up and become more curious ( forward-facing )
  • With infant head support for the rear-facing option and 5-point safety harness
  • Comes with 6-position recline ( 3 in rear-facing and 3 in forward-facing ) that can be one-hand operated
  • The height of the canopy can be adjusted to suit taller or shorter babies
  • The canopy is long and can be extended to fully cover the baby against the sun
  • Easy to maneuver because the wheels glide smoothly
  • Perfect for any terrain with easy to lock rear wheels and front swivel wheels
  • The handles are comfortable for taller parents

Cons:

  • The cup holder is flimsy
  • With very small storage compartment which is hard to access when baby is sitting in the stroller
  • Strap is a bit awkward to carry stroller
  • Opening and closing is a bit tricky
  • The seats are very low to the ground, so parents have to bend way down to help the baby when needed

6. Cosatto Woosh Stroller

  • Product dimension: 74 x 48 x 104 cm
  • Item weight: 6.0 kg
  • Maximum weight to carry: 25 kg
  • With 5-point harness
  • Lockable front swivel wheels and all-round suspension
  • Click the image or here to see the price

Pros:

  • Comes in lovely colors and design
  • Very easy to assemble
  • With study chassis for longer use
  • One-hand folding
  • Roomy seat, decent-sized basket and adjustable calf support for baby’s legs
  • Comes with a rain cover
  • With double length hood and visor for full sun cover
  • With cushioned chest pads
  • 4-year warranty

Cons:

  • Some say the wheels break after a few months
  • Tricky folding and unfolding mechanism for some customers
  • The rain hood can be easily kicked by the baby
  • The wheels get stuck on uneven surfaces
  • The handle doesn’t move up and down to suit a taller parent
  • Comes with a bell that could be annoying to some

7. GB Pockit Air Lightweight Stroller

Pros:

  • Wheels rotate 360 degrees, thus easily maneuvered when unlocked and locks for stability on uneven surfaces
  • Very tiny when folded so fits in an airplane bin very well, or can also fit in a carry on bag

Cons:

  • Very wobbly on uneven pavement- careful your kid might topple off
  • Handles cannot be extended, thus not comfortable for a tall parent
  • Very challenging to fold
  • Strap not included
  • Overhead canopy is not very useful
  • Small storage below, cannot fit lots of stuff

8. ZOE XL1 BEST v2 Lightweight Travel & Everyday Umbrella Stroller System

ZOE XL1 Lightweight everyday stroller-with umbrella

  • Product dimension: 10 x 10 x 10 inches
  • Item weight: 11 pounds
  • Maximum weight to carry: 50 lbs
  • With a large basket underneath and a cup holder
  • Comes in 7 colors: Aqua, black, eloise plum, london navy, noah grey, red, lime greenWith a twin model ( for 2 babies )
  • Click the image or here to see the price

Pros:

  • With a little window on top of the canopy to peek at your baby
  • The handle is good for tall parents

Cons:

  • No shoulder strap
  • Does not recline as much
  • Doesn’t stand upright when closed
  • Difficult to maneuver for some

9.Evenflo Aero Ultra-Lightweight Stroller

  • Product dimension: 29 x 22.25 x 40 in
  • Item weight: 15.4 pounds
  • Maximum weight to carry: 50 pounds
  • With easily accessible extra seat back storage pocket
  • Comes with a spacious storage basket, 2-mesh in seat pocket, and a parent cup holder
  • Comes in 2 colors: lark and dove
  • Click the image or here to see the price

Pros:

  • The easily one-hand folded stroller can stand on its own
  • Made of functional and long-lasting, high quality materials-imported polyester, metal and durable plastic
  • With large canopy and a flip-out visor
  • Allows easy and safe putting and removal of your child because of the rounded foam handlebar and rear wheels that lock
  • Includes ParentLink customer service perks like real-time chat and free live video installation support

Cons:

  • No rain cover or weather shield
  • The front wheels are single wheels ( not double ) and goes in opposite directions, that you have to manually straighten them
  • Sometimes tricky to navigate polished floors and pavements because of the plastic wheels
  • Flimsy cup holder
  • The storage basket has no front mesh and stuff inside can fall out, especially when folded
  • Reclines up to 120 degrees only, thus uncomfortable for some kids to sleep on
  • No strap to carry

My top two choices:

For me, considering the type of stroller, how small and light it is but durable and useful but not so pricey, I recommend these two strollers:

The Kolcraft Cloud Plus Lightweight Stroller

Kolcraft Lightweight Travel stroller

and the Summer Infant 3D Flip Convenience Stroller.

Summer Infant 3D Flip ConvenienceStroller

Enjoy your holiday!

I hope I have given you ideas on what’s out there on the market if you are planning to buy a lightweight travel stroller for your child with special needs that you can use anytime when you plan to travel anywhere local or abroad.

After all, the comfort of your special child is your best interest as well as the light load that you have to carry and keep either in your car or the airplane bin.

Happy shopping!

Don’t forget to bring your camera or phone ( with camera ) and capture those precious moments, the laughter and wide smiles of your kids.

Their happiness is very contagious and will rub off on you as, well.

Enjoy your holiday!

 

Are you ready to buy the lightest and most comfortable travel stroller for your special child? Or your old one is already worn out and you need a new one?

Choose from any stroller above to suit your special child’s needs.

Where do you plan to visit on your holiday? Share your plans with us.

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Raising a Child with Down Syndrome ( Hailey is now Three! )

This is a first of a series of Mom/Dad stories on how special needs parents raise their special children.

Today I have asked Emerald to tell us how a typical day with Hailey goes, how she takes care of her as a working mom, with the challenges along the way and the joys of seeing her daughter develop in her own way.

Hailey, now three, has Down syndrome and her mom Emerald is a full time elementary school teacher.

Down syndrome girl turns three!

Please enjoy reading Emerald’s story- Raising a Child with Down Syndrome, her Hailey.

Related post: Raising a Child with Down Syndrome-our Baby is our Happy Pill

A Day with Hailey

by Emerald Mingoa

Raising a child with Down syndrome is a challenge and it even gets more difficult when you are a working mom.

Because I have to go to work every day, I am an early riser and the night before, I already plan on what food to prepare for my Hailey.

With her older siblings, it’s not much of a planning because they are easy to feed.

Though my Hailey has a big appetite, she’s quite choosy when it comes to food. She likes them savory. Something that would really tickle her taste buds.

Breakfast is a really important meal for her. After taking a bath, she expects to have a hearty meal.

We find it really amusing when her eyes turn big as she tastes her food and she likes it. She would do the thumbs up to her father’s delight as an approval that he did well in cooking.

Morning Routine

When Hailey wakes up in the morning, she can be very demanding for attention, she wants to be caressed, and of course, who are we not to give in?

I bathe her or sometimes her older sister would do that. For her, bath time is play time.

I cannot recall since the day she was born that she cried over bath time, which I sometimes see with typical kids.

After bathing and dressing up will be her feeding time. Now that she’s 3, she would drag her high chair and climb over it which makes us laugh and beam with pride.

Hailey is truly becoming independent!

Though you cannot leave her on her own feeding (you have to be at a distance because she would end up playing with the food, adding up to your unending task), she tries to feed herself.

She has a big appetite for food and her favorites include pasta and roast chicken.

Hailey would point to the fridge and make a licking sound referring to the popsicle which Jozsa, her older sister, makes for her. She would dutifully comply finishing her food because she knows her popsicle treat is waiting.

Playtime is fun time

Playtime would be her next thing to do. She learned to say ” clay, ” referring to the play dough she likes to play a lot.

We are all her playmates at home.

Hailey rekindles the ” small child, ” in all of us.

A few more hours and it would be feeding time again.

She has also learned to say “dede,” a local baby term for milk bottle, which she could finish in one sitting.

Nap time and socializing

Hailey loves to sleep in the afternoon. She would even sleep longer when there’s calming music playing.

Her nanny would bring her to school ( it’s a few minutes walking from our home ) later, after her nap time. There, she is able to mingle with kids which develops her social skills.

She used to be scared and aloof with them, but mingling with them in school, teaches her to be friendly and sociable.

She has now lots of friends.

Hailey’s development

She loves watching the television. Her favorite shows are ” Upin and Ipen, “ a Malaysian cartoon series, featuring twins and their learning adventures, and “Miraculous Ladybug,” also a cartoon series.

She has learned how to hum the tune of their theme songs.

For sure, Hailey loves to watch cartoons with kids as characters.

She would clap her hands in admiration and would sometimes imitate the words that she constantly hears.

Hailey can now say words such as Mommy, Daddy, the name of our dog Myka though not so clear, dede, referring to her feeding time, and words referring to her toys such as doll, clay and car, which she likes to ride a lot.

She may not be so good in uttering words, but definitely, she can also communicate through sounds and actions.

Hailey still cannot talk in sentences but truly she can send her messages across and we can understand.

During eating time when she’s full, she would get your attention motioning to return the small bowl that she uses, to the sink.

At three and 5 months, toilet training is still a challenge for Hailey at this time.

Slowly, I introduce her to her potty trainer, but she doesn’t like the idea of sitting on it at the moment and hopefully she will soon get used to it.

She still wears her nappy all day. Good thing is, she can say the word ” poo poo, ” so we are positive that it will be soon that she will be out of her diapers.

Down syndrome book about being uniqueThe parent's guide to Down SyndromeDown on the farm-book about Down syndrome
Hannah's Down Syndrome superpowers

Click on the images to grab these amazing books about Down syndrome

Home schooling

As a teacher, I am starting to teach her to learn the alphabet and the words that go with them.

We would start with A as apple, B ball and commonly C would be cat but instead of saying the word she would make a meowing sound, to our delight.

The same also applies with other letters like E as in egg, she makes a gesture like putting food on her mouth.

Hailey really gives joy to our family, with all her developments.

On Being a Working Special Needs Mom

It is definitely a challenging day juggling with work and taking care of Hailey, but the support of people around me lightens the burden of it all.

My co-teachers always understand my situation and are always there to lend a helping hand.

I know that God never gives us anything that we cannot do.

 No matter how difficult it can be, there are ways where you can get through.

A few more years and I know it will become easier to take care of Hailey.

We are all excited when she eventually goes to school, which would mean that she has become more  independent.

My support group

Social media is a big factor in making me informed of Hailey’s condition.

I have joined the Facebook group, ” Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines, ” ( DSAPI ) , which is a non-profit organization exclusively for Down Syndrome families.

I am grateful that I found this platform where we share the same interests and varied stories in caring for our Down Syndrome kids.

I know that we are one and we learn from each other.

But of course my family is my greatest support. My husband and my other kids are always there for Hailey and me.

Down syndrome family support

And her nanny/ babysitter definitely, who takes care of her when I’m at work, makes my day easier.

Hailey loves her “Yaya Melody” because she is so caring and patient-never screams, always soft-spoken and readily gives in to her demands ( not always good, but Hailey is such a brat sometimes, thus so happy when she gets what she wants! ).

” Yaya Melody ” brings Hailey to school late in the afternoon where she joins my pupils in their activities, like this practice for their Christmas party the next day.

 

Isn’t Hailey a graceful dancer?

To show her love for Yaya Melody, Hailey says “bye” and gives her a hug and a kiss before she goes home to her family.

After school, when the babysitter is gone, I have to attend to household chores by myself, which is usually preparing food for my family, especially Hailey who is inspired to play good when she’s full.

Me time

Having a special child to care for, not having your husband around because he works overseas, and still working full time, can be such a tough job.

Thus, I see to it that I take care of myself as well so I can always be there for Hailey and her sisters.

It’s like pouring a cup into another cup.

I have to be healthy for my loved ones so they stay healthy as well.

When Hailey dozes to sleep on weekends, I run to the saloon for my nails and my hair coloring.

I have to look presentable not only for my work but I have to pamper myself once in a while to feel good about myself and feel confident that I am still the dazzling mom even if I have three kids, including a Down syndrome daughter.

My dreams for Hailey

The days are fast and Hailey is now three years and 5 months. She is much more active and wanting for challenging activities.

Hailey is a girl with many talents. In the future, she could be a singer or maybe a band member. Learning from her older sister Amber, she likes to play the guitar and sing. We are so delighted of her when she does this!

Down syndrome child plays the guitar

Hailey also loves to dance, even without music, as you can see in the video above. She is just a happy kid, so innocent and loving!

I believe she is ready for school next year, though I was told she can be admitted to formal schooling at the Special Education program ( SPED ) only when she turns five.

In the meantime, I plan to enroll her in a local preschool class who handles typical children her age.

I never stop dreaming big for my beloved Hailey.

I have read some articles about adults with Down Syndrome who excel in their chosen careers.

I believe that Hailey is capable of becoming successful and will find happiness ( though being happy is inherent to them ) in everything that she does.

My Hailey is becoming mature each day, but she will always be my baby.

Raising a child with Down Syndrome

I feel so lucky having my daughter Hailey, who was found to have Down Syndrome at birth. Though I was not ready of her arrival, we have wholeheartedly welcomed her to our family.

Growing up, Hailey has shown lots of developments and caring for her is a constant struggle because I am working full time and my husband is not always around to help, but of course other support comes from her sisters, babysitter, my extended family, my co-teachers and other special needs parents that I communicate with online.

Big challenges in raising Hailey cannot compare to the joy and pride that we have of her achievements at 3 years and 5 months.

Did I say that Hailey loves to mimic me when I do my make up before work? With her toy make-up set, she would put on her “lipstick,” which she has learned to say, and would pretend that she is also going to work. 

Such a darling!

I will be here forever for my beloved Hailey.

To all other working moms out there of Down syndrome kids, I am with you on this journey and we will always survive each day that God gives us to handle.

Our kids’ smiles and hugs and showcase of talents truly erase all our weariness at the end of the day. 

Are you a special needs mom or dad of a Down syndrome child?

How are you facing the challenges of raising him or her? 

Click the images below to grab some materials to help your special child learn more at home.
Picture Books and Chapter Books for all ages

ABC Crafts for Uppercase LettersAll About Reading Pre-reading

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Best Christmas Gifts for Kids with Special Needs- What to Give and Get the Biggest Hug!

In barely two months, we will be celebrating Christmas.

Of course, aside from all the parties and trimmings, let us not forget that we celebrate this season because it’s Jesus’ birthday.

And what better way to celebrate His birthday but to share our blessings to our loved ones and the less fortunate?

Do you have plans already for your Christmas parties with family and friends? We sure have. As early as December 1st, we will be having our party with some friends and our families, from our home province.

Of course, with parties we have to bring gifts especially for the kids who are so excited because they have wishes from Santa.

How about our special kids? Do you think they are excited of their gifts?

I’m sure we have been thinking, ” What would be the best Christmas gifts for kids with special needs? “

I remember when I was a kid, I would always wait expectantly for Christmas day because this was the time when  I would go to my godparents’ house, hug them  and ask their blessing, then  I would get a full plastic bag of goodies in return.

Life was simpler then and we lived in a very small town where neighbours chat with each other outside their homes and practically we knew everyone in the neighbourhood or maybe even the whole town.

My mom knew how to sew, so my sister and I would happily wear our Christmas dresses which looked alike. We proudly beamed like we were twin dolls, lol!

When I was in university, I would start buying simple gifts for my younger siblings as early as October.

We would open our gifts on Christmas day after lunch before heading to my aunt’s place for the party, where the kids got more gifts. Chocolates or other treats and toys were favourites, more than clothes or money.

How about you? Have you started your Christmas shopping this year?

I have some collections already.

I did some research and compiled this list for the best Christmas gifts for kids with special needs and for sure when they get these, they will jump with joy and you will get the biggest hug ever.

Don’t forget to click the images to see the price of the toys that you want to buy.

This post contains affiliate links. Please read the full affiliate disclosure here.

Here we go!

Educational toys

More than enjoying playing with toys, our kids with special needs, especially if they are non-verbal, would squeak with delight the first time that they open a toy and find it talking or emitting sounds or giving out beautiful lights.

Like this baby hammer toy that triggers light and sound when pounded.
Or this interactive toy school bus with flashing lights and sounds.

Be sure to buy also toys that are educational, so their creative minds will be enhanced, as well, communication skills will be developed.

This farm wooden puzzle will teach your child some farm animals, as well develop his fine motor skills and imagination.



The theraputty will enhance your special kids’ fine motor skills and creativity.

Theraputty to enhance fine motor skills and creativity

Best Christmas Gifts for Kids with Special Needs

Books

I love giving books as gifts to my nephews and nieces. I believe that books are the best gifts if you want the kids to enjoy reading as they grow up.

Reading to your special child is a very good bonding time as well, next to playing with them.

Before going to sleep, when you lie side by side in bed, reading to them their favourite book will enhance their imagination, as well.

Even if they are non-verbal, I’m sure they are able to understand in their own little way what you are reading to them, especially if you make your reading more enjoyable by acting out the story, like voicing out animals’ sounds for example.

First word books or alphabet books like these are very educational and be sure to buy books showing beautiful pictures, as well to catch the interest of your kid.


 
Story books, likewise would be one of the best gifts. Choose books that impart moral values about love of God and family. Likewise the values of respect, sharing , and empathy.

These story books will surely give delight to your little ones.

For older kids, these story books would be a hit.

Love You Forever is my most favourite kids’ book. It tells  a story of a mother’s love from birth to forever. It really touches a mom’s heart. It’s so beautiful! I will keep this book forever. I don’t mind reading it again and again.

 

Photobooks

Collect their most beautiful photos from a recent holiday or his most memorable birthday and present to your special child in a beautiful photobook.

Even looking at photos from since they were a baby until now will make them have a wide smile and they will enjoy turning the pages as they recognize themselves in the photobook.

It is also a special album for the whole family to store your memories. Click the image below to see the price.

Photobooks to file your special kids memorable events

Musical instruments

It is proven that music therapy has lots of benefits for our children with special needs.

Let your special kid be jolly everyday by giving him something that he can play not only to let him enjoy but to improve his focus and communication skills.

Let music flow in your homes everyday. Even just one musical instrument that he loves and plays a lot will improve everyone’s mood around the house.

If your special girl loves to sing, this karaoke set is the best gift. You will enjoy hearing the angelic voice of your daughter even though her lyrics have some funny twists.

This drum set for small kids ( 15 months up )  will enhance their motor skills and help them focus and engage.

These harmonica are so easy to play, your special child just needs to blow through it and voila, there will be beautiful music that he can create. And he will enjoy doing it again and again.

This xylophone comes with two sheets of music ( Twinkle, twinkle little star and Mary had a little lamb ) which an older kid can easily follow.


Writing and Colouring Materials

Discover the creative imagination of your special kid by giving him materials that  he can use to draw, doodle, and create something that he can be proud of.

Give him lots of crayons and coloured pencils with paper and just let your special child practice to grip the writing materials and encourage him to just draw those lines and circles and let him use all the colours for him to enjoy and develop his writing skills and creativity.

Show his works of art and put them in your fridge or the wall in his room.

Appreciate his works at all times!

For older kids who know how to properly grip crayons or coloured pencils, this colouring book is a nice gift.


These doodle pads are the right sizes for those small hands. They are also easy to bring during travel.

These large crayons with 16 colors to choose from will delight your special child and inspire him to doodle or  draw all the time.
Mommies, you will love these washable crayons because they’re easy to clean up even if your kids draw on your walls. How’s that?


Shoes and Clothes

What is Christmas for kids without new shoes and clothes?

They usually want to show off their beautiful outfits when they go to church or go to their godparents and grandparents asking for their presents.

Shop here for new dresses and clothes.

Awesome clothes for Christmas!

These girls’ sandals will fit nicely on their feet and will hold on even though they have mobility issues. I bet they can’t  wait for summer to use them. Might use them at home, lol!

This flashing sneaker will be a hit with your special child paired with an awesome

shirt.

These squeaky shoes for your little girl will amuse her as she walks.


Awesome shirts will make your kids’ Christmas more enjoyable! Check them out. The boys’ shirts  come in three colors- red, blue, and black.

Harry potter’s girl’s shirt in burgundy.

 Bags and backpacks

Some beautiful bags or backpacks to bring around at doctor or therapist visits to put your special kids’ toys and other essentials would be a nice gift idea as well.

Think of how the designs will give them joy.

 Your little girl will love carrying this unicorn kids’ backpack anywhere she goes. It comes with a lunch bag as well, which is very useful when going out to doctor’s visits or to school.

This weighted huggy bear back pack will surely give comfort to your special one, being so huggable and soft. Click the image to see the price.

Huggy bear weighted backpack

Huggable toys

Toys that will calm their anxieties are those that they can hug, like this weighted teddy bear and the Plush Pickle. They will enjoy carrying them and showing to their playmates, as well.

 

 

When we think of gifts for Christmas, the kids are always the most excited.

They would even trade chocolates or toys with money. They usually love getting presents that give them enjoyment. Opening those boxes or bags give them lots of perk!

They even wake up really early on Christmas day to start opening their presents once their parents allow them.

Christmas gifts come in different sizes

As parents, we are also excited shopping for them, even small items for their Christmas stockings.

Their belief that Santa Claus is there to give them presents as long as they’re nice gives them more enthusiasm during the holidays.

Even our children with special needs feel the excitement, so start buying those memorable gifts for them.

Happy shopping!

Let the Christmas countdown begin !

 

Do you recall the time when your special kid jumped with joy when he opened a Christmas present from you?

When is your most memorable Christmas with your little one? Did you have a gift that until now is still precious to him?

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Special Needs Stroller: Choosing the Best for Need and Comfort

Traveling is part of everyday life, especially if you have a special child who needs to go to doctor’s appointments, physiotherapist visits, special school attendance, and even family gatherings or just to go to the park with cousins and friends or go with you to the mall. Of course a special needs stroller is so essential for these activities.

 

Special needs stroller

I have even seen some parents jog with their kids in their stroller. What an awesome sight!

Your special child could even go with the whole family to any fun travel or visits to an amazing place during summer or any holiday for that matter. I’m sure he would love to bond with everybody on these trips.

Thus, a special needs stroller, or an adaptive stroller, is a most essential companion for parents and caregivers for easy mobility.

 

A special needs stroller needs to be durable for long term use.
A special needs stroller should be durable for long term use and meet the needs of your special child.

When planning to buy, what do you have to keep in mind? Is it the price? Durability, comfort, beauty?

Lots of reasons perhaps. So, what is the best special needs stroller out there? How do you choose one for your child?

Reasons for buying a stroller

1. Need–          Do you have frequent visits to doctors and therapists, or does your child go to school at least 3 times a week?

2. Comfort-    Is it the right fit for your kid for him to be comfy for long hours of sitting or lying down?

3. Price –          Do you want something that is not so pricey, anyway your child will outgrow the stroller soon or is it okay with you to pay more now, anyway he can use it for years to come?

4. Durability – Is your child on the heavy side or is older that something which will not wear out soon needs to be bought for him? Or you really prefer a stroller that would serve your kid for long term and grow with him?

5. Disability–   Is your child unable to walk at all or have stiff joints that prevent him to be moved easily to fit in the stroller?

When to buy

Foremost, you have to consider the need to decide when to purchase your stroller. Definitely, you will need one when you go out every week or even just twice a month for those appointments for your child.

You also have to consider that your kid will have mobility issues for some years because he will have delayed developments of some motor capabilities, like in children with Down syndrome, so deciding when to buy is critical.

Plan on the long term use so you can decide well on what to buy. Be open to the idea that your child will walk later than normal kids and when he learns to walk, it will take a while for him to have full balance.

If your child has disabilities that need to be addressed, consult your physiotherapist or rehabilitation doctor for proper advice on what type of adaptive stroller to buy.

Depending on where you live, some government health insurance may pay for these devices for your special child. Your private health insurance might be able to help as well. You just have to inquire, who knows you don’t need your pocket at all or you might pay only partial of the whole amount.

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Special needs stroller for your special child's need

Click here to look at varieties of adaptive strollers

Related post: How to travel with a stroller: nine best lightweight strollers for children with special needs

 

I am introducing 3 adaptive strollers for you to choose from. Of course, there are lots of choices out there but these 3, based on my research, are very useful for the kids with special needs. This review will somehow give you ideas when you are ready to buy one for your child.

Reviews on 3 strollers

1. Special Tomato Special Needs Jogging Stroller

  • This is ideal for children up to 110 lbs
  • The lightweight aluminum frame allows it to be folded easily
  • When open, it measures  :     L x W x H 42″ x 26″ x 43″
  • If folded, it measures : L x W x H 33″ x 21″ x 16″
  • It is durable, thus ideal for long use
  • It has a reclining seat ( recline range 100 to 140 degrees ).
  • The stroller weighs -27 lbs
  • Click the image or here to see the price

PROS

  • With 5-point harness to keep child safe and comfy
  • It is very comfortable for long trips.
  • The stroller for a jogging parent
  • It rolls really well ; the 12″ pneumatic tires works well both on smooth streets and rugged terrain
  • The front wheel can lock in place during jogging.
  • Free shipping if you buy here

CONS

          • Basket under the stroller has to be bought separately
          • Takes a bit of space when folded up

Related post: How to travel with a stroller: nine best lightweight strollers for children with special needs

2.Adaptive Star Axiom Lassen 2 Push Chair

                                   

Axiom Lassen 2 Push chair

  • Product dimensions are 61″ x 24″ x 43″ inches
  • With traditional large rear wheels and 2 pneumatic front swivel wheels
  • Comes in 3 sizes and 2 colors ( navy and red )
  • With weight capacity up to 250 pounds
  • Comes with storage pocket behind the seat and  2  water bottle holders
  • The removable seat and under the seat basket are machine washable

Click the image or here to see the price

PROS

  • The handle can be adjusted depending on the height of the parent
  • With safety wrist strap
  • It has fixed footrest with individual feet straps
  • Comfortable seating area lined with breathable wicking fabric 
  • Adjustable 5- point harness for safety
  • The seat can be reclined up to 30 degrees
  • The sun canopy has view port window
  • Free shipping

CONS

  • The basket is made of thin synthetic material and not secure so when you put items  they tend to fall over
  • The padded insert for the seat is bought separately

3. Freedom Adaptive Stroller by Baby Jogger

Freedom Adaptive stroller by Baby Jogger

  •  The stroller weighs 30 pounds 
  • Product dimensions are 47 x 24.6 x 12.9 inches
  • Comes in navy color
  • It has a reclining seat and a padded seat back for comfort
  • With a 16 inch static wheel and swivel front wheels
  • It has a multi-position canopy with clear view window

Click the image or here to see the price

PROS

  • The handbrake comes with a parking button
  • The curved handle makes pushing comfortable
  • It comes with a quick folding design
  • The stroller is sturdy and suitable for big kids
  • With room to grow for your kids 
  • Can be also used for adults with special needs

CONS

  • When folded, the chair doesn’t lock in place.
  • It is not so easy to push and guide on trails
  • The stroller is tall and the handle is high, thus,  not very comfortable for small parents

Is it time to buy?

Special needs strollers or the adaptive strollers are definitely a necessity for our special kids with mobility issues.

Your kids are able to walk probably at this point, but then they get tired easily with long walks.

For those with wheelchairs, you might still consider buying an adaptive stroller for them because wheelchairs are usually bulky and heavy.

My final word

Remember to always  consult your child’s physiotherapist or rehabilitation doctor for advice as to what specific adaptive stroller will fit your child to address his mobility and disability needs.

After all, your child’s comfort is foremost in your mind, as well as your need to consider your budget because these strollers are not on the cheap side.

Lastly, put inquiry to your health insurance, private or government,  if they will pay your mobility device. 

I’m sure with proper referral from your child’s physiotherapist or doctor, his adaptive stroller will be reimbursed or paid directly by your insurance.

Choose an adaptive stroller or special needs stroller for comfort and durability

Click here to find more options for your adaptive strollers and devices

 

Have you used several adaptive strollers through the years? Did your child prefer one over the other? Please let us know your experiences in the comments below.

 

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Learning the Symptoms of an Autistic Child ( Up Close and Personal with Nathan )

It’s different when you just read about something, specifically about the signs and symptoms of Down syndrome and autism.

Looking at pictures or images of people with Down syndrome, they are so typical.

Even observing them from a distance, you will know that they are kids with Down syndrome.

And of course, I have lived with some family members, like Pangga, my sister who sadly passed away a few years back, and whom this website is dedicated to, and my nephew Mark, whom I see every year when we go on vacation to my home place.

But with autism, I haven’t really been with them up close. I’ve just read about them or heard some friends describe their autistic kids.

I don’t really know how they behave in person, until I met Nathan again and stayed with his family for about a week this summer.

It was a really special encounter with Nathan, being with him up close and personal for a week was something. Seeing him, I missed Pangga so much more, but being with Nathan, it was always fun and it’s like being a kid again with freshness every day, no worries, just pure awesome joy.

We planned on our vacation to be with Nathan’s family ( his mom is my sister ) and to see their place and go to some exciting adventure places.

We went to Universal Studios in Florida!

I will not discuss about Down syndrome here because they don’t really have behavior issues and just looking at their physical appearance, as I have mentioned above, you will know who they are.

I’d like to share with you more about learning the symptoms of an autistic child that I have observed in Nathan for the one week that we were together.

I really do honor my sister and her husband and their older daughter for being so patient with Nathan and so accepting of his inadequacies.

Related posts:

Big sister, little brother…. he has Down Syndrome and Autism

Down Syndrome with Autism-my Son has both and He is a Gift from God

About Special Needs Fathers ( Meet three awesome dads! )

First impressions

On our arrival, we were treated to a sumptuous dinner and some entertainment and dancing at a local restaurant. We just enjoyed watching other people gyrate to music though, because we were tired from our trip.

Nathan sat at the other end of the table beside my son and his other cousins. We observed that he always sat so close with them, like he was so welcoming and happy to be with them. He even put his arms over my son’s shoulders, like they are good old friends. This is actually the first time that they have this chance to be close together. And mine, too.

Autistic boy welcomes his cousin

We first saw Nathan about two years ago at the wedding reception of my cousin. And we were just with him for maybe an hour or so only, not having a chance to really bond with him.

This time, we lived in their house and in a rented unit in a resort in another town.

I was able to observe him from the time he woke up until he fell asleep.

I know kids in the spectrum don’t really socialize well. They don’t have eye contact and I have proven this, never did I see Nate having eye contact with anybody.

When you call his name, he never looks directly at you; it seems like he is ignoring you all the time. But he follows simple instructions and I will talk about this later.

Nathan cannot sleep

In the morning after our first night in their house, my son complained that he was able to sleep at 5:00 AM already. He slept on the same room as Nate with another cousin.

When asked why, he said Nathan didn’t sleep and was having ” seizures,” in his bed.

Of course they were not real seizures lol! Apparently, Nathan couldn’t sleep, kept on rocking in his bed all night, and only able to sleep early in the morning already.

Nathan’s parents said if he sleeps during the day, it’s hard for him to sleep during the night and he is restless.

It is said that sleep disorders are common in autism and would occur in 40-80%of children with ASD. These children could have the following:

  • A hard time falling asleep
  • Disturbed and intermittent sleep
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Irregular sleep routines
  • Waking up too early or in the middle of the night

There are several theories as to the causes of sleep disorders in children with autism, among them are the following:

1. Social cues, like seeing other people getting ready to go to sleep. Autistic kids have struggles with communication, so they may misinterpret or misunderstand these cues.

2. The hormone, melatonin, which regulates the normal sleep–wake cycle, are found in some studies of kids with autism to be higher during daytime than nighttime, thus they sleep more during daytime. Maybe this is true for Nathan.

3. Increased sensitivity to outside stimuli, such as touch or sound, so they are easily awakened even by a parent opening their bedroom door to check on them.

4. Anxiety, which is found to be quite common for kids with autism, can also affect their sleep pattern.

Nate and his stims

Every day, during our stay with Nathan’s family, I have observed his stimming behaviors. He does rocking almost daily, with no specific time, anywhere. He would rock when he is sitting in their sofa or even inside the car while traveling.

One time when we were swimming, I also noticed that he kept on circling or going around a part of the pool which had water falling from above. He ignored my request to go up the slide, instead he just kept on circling around the little water falls. He never stopped until he came out of the pool.

What is stimming or stims? It is short for self-stimulatory behavior, and is the repetition of physical movements, like hand flapping, excessive or hard blinking, head banging, snapping fingers, spinning objects, or even repetitive noises or words, and for Nathan it was always body rocking with noises, which happened that first night at their house which annoyed his cousins. My son described it as “seizures.” lol!

Stimming could lead to self-injury such as in head banging or hand biting, so fidget toys, fidget spinners and puzzles are encouraged for safe stimming.

It is said that autistics stim to meet a need, thus encouraging them to continue with their stims and not discourage them will help them to become more confident and will help them to be more regulated to avoid autistic burn out and meltdowns.

Behavioral therapists however, say stimming should be stopped especially if they are hurting themselves or others, like head banging and biting.

Stimming may look or feel very annoying to other people, like to my son that night when Nathan couldn’t sleep and just kept on rocking in his bed, but to these autistic kids, they serve real purpose, so we have to be open -minded about them.

Nathan loves the water

Autistic boy loves swimming

His cousins went swimming with him in the resort pool twice. Nathan was with his dad for the first one and with his sister and I, the second time.

He was so happy and excited dipping into the pool and loved to walk in the water. He didn’t know how to swim, so we were always on the look out for him, in case he goes to the deep end.

One young boy came close to him and started talking to him. Nathan’s dad and I appreciated the efforts of this young boy to communicate with Nathan, but of course Nate didn’t reciprocate it because, like the typical autistic child, he cannot engage in conversations, plus he is still non-verbal.

Getting him out of the water was quite a struggle, he would never get out of the pool, if he had the choice, lol!

Nathan’s way of communication

Ever since he started to regress in his speech, Nathan has only around ten words at present, according to his mom. Personally, I heard him utter only two words, “outside,” and “mas,” the latter being the Spanish word for “more”. He learned this from his Spanish teacher assistant before and if he wants more food, this is his way of communicating.

Other than that, Nathan just makes sounds all the time, sounds like he is complaining.

As mentioned awhile ago, Nate has no eye contact at all. When you call him, he might turn his head towards you after several calls and I observed that he has nystagmus-this is a common sign of Down syndrome.

Love for the riding machines

Autistic boy loves the elevator Nathan runs when he sees an elevator or an escalator. He loves riding this so much so that he wants to go in and out of these riding machines.

This was quite challenging for his parents and us, while in the airport when we were going for our plane ride home as well as my sister and her son. His parents would try to pull him ( he is so strong, much stronger than anybody except his dad! ) out of these rides because he loves getting in and out of these.

I guess this is part of his repetitive behavior or circumscribed interests as one of the unique behaviors in autism.

Autistic boy loves the escalator

Eating habits

Nathan loves to eat. He sits on the table and feeds himself from a plate of food prepared by his parents. But he cannot sit still. He would feed 3-4 tablespoons one after the other, then go to the sofa and play until somebody calls him to go to the table again.

He has a big appetite and makes noises if he is in the table and there is still no food. Like in a restaurant, his parents bring cookies for him to munch on while they wait for the food to be served.

Autistic kids could have various eating habits such as:

  • Fussy eating habits – they eat only a limited kind of food and these could be because of sensory sensitivities ( they choose only a specific texture of food ). With Nathan, he prefers smoothies than real fruit. This could also be because they like routines- same food every time, they may find it hard to try new food or are preoccupied with certain food.
  • Over eating habits – less common than fussy eating but should be watched out to avoid health problems
  • Non-food eating habits, called pica, where they would eat hair, coins, dirt or fabric. This could lead to malnutrition, infection, increased levels of toxin, etc. This needs to be addressed ASAP and try to replace non-food items with snacks and praise the child when they choose to eat the snacks.

Nathan’s pet snake- his sensory toy

Pet snake as Sensory toy

He has a toy snake, his favorite toy for the longest time. He loves to put it in his neck or toss it in the air. He would bite at it sometimes so much so that the tail end is messed up already. Maybe part of his non-food eating habit?

His aunt, my other sister who gave him the green old snake bought a new violet snake supposedly to replace the green worn one. At first, he didn’t like it, he held it for a few seconds then threw it away. After a few hours, he tried to compare the two and soon learned to like both of them.

Sensory toys are said to benefit autistic kids because they serve their sensory needs, like being focused on their sensory toy could drown out being overstimulated with outside noise, so they don’t have a meltdown.

Incidentally, I never saw Nathan having a meltdown in our one week stay with him and this maybe because he learned how to drown out noises or distractions around him with his snake.

He loves to be tickled

Nate has autism

While in the car or at home, I had numerous chances of playing with Nathan. Not that we played with toys, but just sitting close to him and singing with him or just holding his hands or tickling him.

While traveling by car, he loves to watch his favorite movie so he doesn’t get bored. Beside him, I always tried to hold his hand and I know that he loved it because aside from non-stop rocking, he smiled from time to time.

I remember, the second time that he swam with his cousins, sister and I at the resort pool, his dad tried to pull him out of the pool earlier than the rest. I tried to help his dad because he did not want to get out of the pool, and his dad said, “Tickle him, ” which I did, and true enough he did not fight with us and got out of the pool easily.

Every day is a reason to be happy

That one week with Nathan and his family have made me realize how important family is.

Especially family support for a child with special needs.

Nathan has both Down syndrome and autism and although he is still basically non-verbal and thus, non-communicative, he is loved and taken cared of wholeheartedly by his parents and sister and his extended family.

He might feel left out in a bunch of kids his age, but he has his own world and he is thriving well with his stims and his pet snake.

He has a good appetite and although he might not be able to sleep well sometimes at night, he sleeps during the day if need be.

Autistic kid having fun with cousins and sister in the resort

 

With Nathan, we all realized that life can really be lived simply with minimal worries for tomorrow.

What is important is the here and now.

See you again sometime, Nathan! Thanks for that week of pure joy and bliss.

And of course, thank you for teaching me about you, thus, learning about the symptoms of an autistic child firsthand.

 

Have you had a close encounter with an autistic child? How was your experience? We would love to hear from you.

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The Benefits of Reading Everyday ( Make Learning a Fun Experience for your Special Child )

You and l know that love for reading starts early during childhood. We, parents are the ones who need to inculcate in our children the beautiful habit of reading.

Even for our special kids, this habit of daily reading could be cultivated early on.

Of course, kids will always be kids. They enjoy time with their parents and caregivers. They will always feel safe when they are around with their beloved mom and dad, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or their nanny.

What a better way to spend time together with your special child than reading to them.

Make it a daily habit. Your child will always look forward reading with you.

I assure you there are tons of benefits of reading everyday to your special child.

Exploring books together with  your special kid is one of the best forms of parental-child bonding, maybe second to playing with them.

What are the benefits of reading to your special child?

Even if your special child has  delayed mental development, he will still enjoy sitting down with you or lying down in the bed with you.

He will always tend to snuggle or hug you while listening to your story-telling.

So aside from just being happy together, there are lots of positive output that reading to your child will bring:

  • A strong bond is developed between you and your special child.
  • Your child will have  a sense of security when he is  there in the bed or chair  with you.
  • You are both able to explore the world, your town, province or country.
  • He gradually forms a deep trust in you.
  • He learns to appreciate that you are trying to help him improve or overcome his incapacities.
  • Your special child will slowly increase his vocabulary.
  • He gradually improves his language skills.
  • His mental capability will be boosted.
  • You are opening your child’s awareness to his surroundings, thus he learns coping skills.
  • You are helping your child’s teacher in a way because  your kid will be more receptive with lessons in school.
  • Reading will develop your child’s imagination and creativity.
  • He will learn to relax and quiet his mind during reading sessions with you.
All About Reading Pre-reading
Click the image to buy books to help your child learn to read

Make reading together a habit

We learn easily when we do things again and again.

Your child with special needs will truly benefit from you when you make reading to him a habit and reading with him daily is the best thing!

Rather than make your child watch nursery rhymes on television or you tube  day after day, develop the habit of reading to him instead at bedtime or just anytime that you feel he is receptive to listen to your story telling.

Making reading to him a daily thing will surely increase his trust in you and he will always look forward to that special time together.

Gradually, you are increasing his vocabulary and his understanding of his environment.

This special time will also make you feel that you are giving him a special part of you.

Enjoy reading with your child

Read aloud to your child.

Act out and speak out like the characters in the book that you are reading.

If you are reading a dialogue for an old lady, let your voice be slow and quivering. If you are reading a man’s dialogue, speak in a deep tone.

You can even mimic some animals’ sounds. Surely your child will giggle and enjoy hearing your story.

He will always look forward to reading with you everyday.

You yourself will feel very happy and at peace after these sessions.  Your child’s laughter will wash away all the worries or stresses that you maybe experiencing at that moment.

squeezy canoe for sensory needs
Read to your child in this squeezy canoe

Incorporate the assignments from school in your reading sessions

During homework time, start by reading to your child a good story book. This will develop his enthusiasm in doing his assignment.

Answering questions or completing his tasks that his teacher sent home will be a breeze if his brain is programmed to respond positively.

Encourage him to answer his homework by himself.  Let him ask you questions as well or let him know that you can help him if he cannot answer the questions.

Guide him if you can, instead of giving him all the answers. This way, you are encouraging him to think and decide for himself what is the best answer.

His teacher will be very appreciative learning that you are there to help her encourage your child to learn each day.

20 Best Tips

Related post: Special Education Teaching-Facing Challenges and Feeling Fulfilled 

Read various topics

To increase your special child’s vocabulary and develop his language skills, try to read a variety of topics from animals, cartoon characters, plants, school, home, family, food, etc.

After reading, talk about the story that you just read.

Ask him questions like, ” What part of the story did you like most? “, “Who is your favorite character? “, or ” What did you learn from the story?”

Encourage him to ask questions to you as well. This will also gauge if he understood the topic or not.

An inquisitive mind is open to more learning.

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Here are some awesome books for your special one.

Click the picture to buy!

Love You Forever

I would like to mention especially this book, Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch.  This has been  my favorite book ever since I read it to my son back when he was younger.

I have given away most of my son’s children’s books, but not this.

I’ve kept it and I read it again and again, even just by myself. It’s so beautiful and inspiring.

It tells about a mother’s love, which is unconditional and infinite, from birth up until the son grew old.

Love you Forever is so rich with moral lessons, especially about a mother’s love which was later on reciprocated by her son. 

The story is so touching, you could’t help but cry after reading it because it’s so full of love and gratefulness. 

Go grab this book, the very young and the old alike will truly appreciate it and be touched by this book. 

Keep reading time short and sweet

A special child will have limited attention span, so plan to read short stories. Their intellectual capacities are also restricted, so they lose interest easily.

You might need to speak very slowly too, so he can understand every word and appreciate the story.

Don’t be upset when your child doesn’t decipher everything that you read to him. Keep in mind that he has delayed mental capabilities, so his brain is slow to digest.

Instead, always appreciate that he enjoys time with you even though he is learning slowly. 

Plan on going to the library regularly

A trip to the library on a weekend or right after school on a certain day is something that you can develop with your special child.

This will teach him the value of reading regularly. Likewise, he will be exposed to different books and topics.

Let him choose what he wants you to read to him. This way, you will encourage him to explore.

Start with small books or short stories.

Picture books are awesome for small kids to begin with.

You yourself can also borrow your own books while visiting the library. Always find time to read, this is a very relaxing ” me ” time for you, my dear parents.

Introduce reading to your special child from birth

Reading to your newborn or a few months old special baby can certainly give benefits both to you and him.

You will develop a special bond right away aside from his feeding schedules.

His brain will be exposed very early to this stimulating activity and as he grows and develops, reading will aid  in forming his language skills early on.

Your voice will soothe him to let him sleep good at night.

Developing that good habit of reading everyday will surely help him overcome his mental delay sooner because his brain will be rewired early.

As your child grows older, he would be learning to choose his favorite topic, author, or book.

All these because you have started to expose him early on and he has developed that habit of reading ( or listening to you while you read, if he has not learned reading by himself ).

Reap the benefits of reading everyday to your special child by starting early on!

I hope I have inspired you, dear mom and dad to start reading to your special child now and continue this awesome bonding activity daily!

Wishing you and your child happy reading!

Check out my favourite AMAZON picks  for babies here. 

The Benefits of Reading Everyday

When did you start reading to your special child?  Are you reading to him everyday?

What is his favorite book about? Please share your story with us.

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How to Prepare for Camping with a Special Child ( Summer Escapade Galore!! )

Now that school is done in two weeks and summer is almost here, what better way to relax but to go camping!

Plan and prepare what to bring so nothing is missed and everybody can enjoy and have fun.

But wait, can you bring your special child with the whole family?

Of course, he may have special needs but he has the right to enjoy and spend time with everybody.

This will be a special bonding time for everyone – to relax, unwind, breathe some fresh air and enjoy nature.

Let’s go and delve on how to prepare for camping with a special child in tow.

I promise you, it will be a summer escapade galore!

Camping with a special needs child is fun!

Where to go

Months or weeks in advance, you need to plan where the family wants to go and reserve or book the place.

I assume you did this already. Did you book a cabin or a tent area? Or are you bringing your camper? Either way, all three are fun places to stay.

Is your site somewhere close, like half an hour ride or maybe up to 2 hours is good. But some families love to go long driving, like a 3-4 hour or more travel, which might be uncomfortable though for the kids, especially your special one.

You can actually make a long trip comfy by breaking it into shorter trips. How do you do that?

Rest in between, like after an hour or two, look for a park with a picnic table or a grocery store with some benches outside where you can rest or maybe eat your snacks or lunch.

Even a 30-45 minute rest would give everyone a space to relax and a time to stretch and fill the hungry tummy.

Then, off you go again for another ride. Make sure that you let Dad or whoever is driving know that you need to stop every after 1-2 hours of driving to recharge.

Plan your activities and meal preparation

Planning is key to success, comfort, and fun in camping.

If you are camping with your extended family or friends, like what we do all the time, for sure there maybe a minimum of 4-5 families or around 16-25 people.

For a big group like this, it will be surely fun and the most important thing is to decide how you will prepare your meals.

For our group, we usually assign which family prepares this or that meal, so we prepare and cook only once or twice for that weekend get away.

On the first day though, that is on check in day, each family brings packed lunch or dinner, so we don’t worry what to eat when we get to the site and we can focus on pitching our tents or preparing for the first night.

That said, you know what food and cooking utensils to bring when you have planned your menu for your assigned day and specific meal. For example, you don’t need to bring eggs when you are assigned to prepare dinner on a Saturday.

Swimming is an all-time favorite activity for kids including your special one.

When booking for a camp, always look if the site has a swimming pool or a suitable lake. Be sure to be with your kids at all times during these activities for safety reasons.

Outdoor games like badminton, frisbee or parlor games would be fun as well for the whole family.

Be sure to bring those rackets and shuttlecocks, frisbee flying disks and materials for parlor games like sacks, big hankies, empty bottles, etc.

What to bring

It is best to make a list of what to bring so you will not forget anything or at least you will be able to bring the most essential things that you need.

I remember in one of our tent campings, my husband forgot to bring our sleeping bags, it’s good that my brother’s family were in their camper with heating, so they let us use their sleeping bags.

Here is a list of what you will need:

1. Shelter and sleeping needs

  • Tent- make sure that what you have from years before is still usable and clean, otherwise, you have to buy again. Does it fit everybody or do you need an additional tent if everybody will not be accommodated? If you want to purchase a new one, you can buy at AMAZON by clicking here.
  • Sleeping mattress or airbed- don’t forget to bring the pump to put some air
  • Sleeping bag – it is usually cold late at night and early morning, so this is really important; suitable for one to 3 -persons depending on the number of family members; lots of choices at AMAZON.
  • Pillows
  • Extra blankets- the regular ones that you can use at daytime when you want to have a nap or just want to lie down
  • Weighted blanket- if you have one, bring it!

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2. Cooking materials

  • Stove
  • Match or a lighter
  • Propane
  • Kettle, frying pan, rice cooker – you have to know what food are you cooking so you know what to bring
  • Laddle
  • Chopping board

3. Eating utensils

  • Disposable plates, spoons and forks, glasses
  • Serving spoons
  • Napkins

4. Clean up materials including stuff for bathing and swimming

  • Towels
  • Tissue paper
  • Boxed tissue
  • Toiletries-including soap, body wash, body scrub or sponge, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, dental floss
  • Bathing suit
  • Sunblock
  • Make-up, lipstick, deodorants
  • Diapers ( click to buy ) for small kids or even for your non-toilet trained special one

5. Food and Water ( think of your assigned meal plan so you don’t miss anything )

  • Bottled water
  • Water for cooking in a large container
  • Rice
  • Cooler with ice and hot dogs, pre-cooked food
  • Fruits
  • Snacks-cookies, chips, nuts
  • Drinks, including milk for young kids and your special one
  • Coffee or chocolate for grown-ups
  • Bread
  • Travel food in a separate bag for long trips- usually cookies, nuts, including water
  • Pre-packed lunch or dinner depending on your check-in time so you can concentrate on putting up your tent upon arrival
  • Other food- meat, fish, dried food such as beans, eggs, vegetables, spices, salt, marshmallow, etc

6. Clothes

  • Sweaters, jackets, toque, scarves, mitts- Be prepared for cold nights and on early mornings
  • Jogging pants- especially because there could be mosquitoes or ticks
  • Jammies, preferably long-sleeve tops
  • Socks
  • Shorts and light-colored or white shirts for daytime use when it’s usually hot
  • Underwears
  • Caps or hats

7. Other Essentials

  • Flashlight
  • Light for the tent and for your dining table
  • Camp chairs
  • Alcohol or disinfectant
  • Sunblock
  • Insect repellant
  • Coins- some showers need coins to function
  • Hanging ropes for wet towels and clothes
  • Books and board games – reading to your special one can still continue outside or inside your
  • Camera or phone
  • House keys
  • Travel diary if you are fond of recording your experiences
  • CD’s to entertain you while traveling for long trips
  • Slippers
  • Balls, Badminton sets, freebies
  • Small toys for your special child
  • Lightweight stroller for your special kid- very important!

Related post: How to Travel with a Stroller: Ten Best Lightweight Strollers ( for Children with Special Needs ) 

What do you do during camping?

 

When you have small kids and a special child with you, fun activities need to be planned so they don’t get bored.

Activities that kids enjoy are swimming, outdoor sports like biking, ball games, badminton, etc.

Hiking could also be fun if your special child can walk by himself.

Let him stroll at the start then maybe carry him later in your back if he gets tired. Then plan to go back to your tent at this point, otherwise your back will get sore carrying him for a very long walk.

As you progress with your hike, show your special child the plants, flowers, trees, or animals around you and this could be an educational experience for him as well.

Campfire and barbecuing or grilling hot dogs and marshmallows are things that they also love.

This is a special time for families and friends to bond by sharing experiences or jokes around a campfire, or sharing music by singing in a guitar accompaniment, if your family is musically-inclined.

If possible, tell your kids to limit the use of social media ( phones, laptops, DVDs, etc ) and instead encourage them to play active games and interact with family especially siblings and cousins their age.

After the camping, what?

Be sure to ask your older kids to help you out with folding the tent and keeping all the things that you need to bring home.

Make your trip back home fun by playing music and singing while traveling. If you think your special child cannot handle the noise, put on him an earphone.

You can also play games in your car, like the ” I spy ” game where you take turns in saying something that you see around, for example, a red flower, and let the other family members guess where it is.

When you are already close to where you live, you can eat out in a restaurant so you don’t have to prepare another meal at home because by then you will be very tired.

Then, putting away stuff is another hurdle to do. Try to keep all things in their proper places so when you need them again in your next camping trip, you know where to look for them.

Inspect all your stuff and clothing to make sure that you don’t have ticks with you.

Remember, that weekend with your family including your special one is a precious event.

He will always cherish those times with you. Keep memories alive through pictures and videos.

Lastly, if possible, allot a day for rest and to put all stuff in proper places before you go back to work , so productivity in your workplace is not affected.

Till next camping!

Prepare for camping with a special child

Do you and your family love camping? Do you always bring your child with special needs? Not that hard, right? Please share your experiences with us.

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About Special Needs Fathers ( Meet three awesome dads! )

Let’s talk about special needs fathers this time. 

It’s almost Father’s day and what better way to honor them than to put out this post on how they are as partners of their wives in taking care of their special kids.

We all know that there are lots of struggles in raising up kids, more so if they have special needs and these become challenges that are easier to hurdle if both parents are present for their kids.

Thus, we cannot underestimate the help that our special needs fathers do.

I don’t know if you agree that dads give more tough love than moms, and I don’t know if they are really tough even with their special kids.

Let’s all find out, shall we?

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Jojo and Nathan

 

A very responsible family man, Jojo is a full time nurse who likes to go fishing and do some basic carpentry in his free time.

Married also to a nurse, they have 2 kids, their eldest daughter is in  medical school and the youngest is Nathan, “the most special in the family, ” according to him.

Tell us about Nathan

Nathan is now 12, he was born with Down syndrome and diagnosed with autism later between 8-9 years old but started to show signs at 4 years old .

At present, he’s still having a hard time expressing his needs.”

 When did you know that Nathan was special and how did you react?

” Actually, I was in the Philippines attending to my sister’s funeral when I learned that my son had questionable genes and that they would have to do some studies later to confirm his diagnosis, since he had the features of Down syndrome.

 It was like a double blow on my part, attending to my sister’s funeral and my son having Down syndrome, at that time in my life.

 And I was helpless because I was in the Philippines and my wife was still in the hospital since she delivered earlier than expected. I couldn’t get to the US in time for the birth of my son and I couldn’t miss my sister’s funeral. “

According to his wife, Diane, it was really difficult for him to accept at first. ” Jojo was given a parental leave for a few weeks, he just can’t function and think straight. I had to encourage and push him to get up and move on.

It took him probably 2 months to accept everything that happened to us.”

Related post: Down Syndrome with Autism-my son has both and he is a Gift from God!

Is there a special activity that you bond together as dad and son? 

” We like to watch TV and listen to music together. We also love visiting my sister and her husband who lives in the same city as us. “

How do you share with your wife in taking care of Nathan?

Down syndrome boy with dad

 

” We take turns, since we’re both working 12 hours, on our days off (we alternate our work schedules, too so that there is always someone present for Nathan) and I bring Nathan to  let him attend to some activities, like soccer and basketball with the other special needs kids via special olympics.

I also like to cook and Nathan loves to eat ( and me ) so, this is one thing that my wife loves me doing for Nathan and our family.

When Nathan was younger and starting to be potty trained, I really tried hard to let him go to the bathroom on specific times of the day and before I went to work and it all paid off.

He has been fully toilet-trained since he was around seven.”

Related post: How to Potty Train a Child with Special Needs…When is the Best Time to Start?

Do you have any fears or concerns about his future?

” Yeah, since we’re getting old and we don’t know what will happen to his future.

Luckily he has a sister who loves him very much and willing to take care of him. 

Hopefully by that time he can express what he wants and his needs and will be able to do some daily basic living activities. “

Related post: Big sister, Little brother…he has Down syndrome and Autism!

Does he have any big challenges at the present and how do you handle them?


” Nathan doesn’t talk and when he doesn’t get his way he stomps upstairs and won’t come downstairs for awhile or unless someone goes to get him.

 We put a certain time limit and if he doesn’t come down, we check on him or we turn on one of his favorite shows so he will hear it and come downstairs. 

He also hurts people, especially if he’s in an unfamiliar environment and can’t communicate what he wants.

To amend that, we just talk to him in a nice way and explain that hurting people isn’t what you’re supposed to do.”

 Is there an activity that he excels?


“He doesn’t have any noticeable talent yet. He just enjoys watching TV, looking through his books, playing with his favorite stuffed toy snake, or listening to music.”

How does Nathan make you and your family happy?

Down syndrome boy with family

” We are glad when he is enjoying his shows and is dancing with the music that also occurs in the program. 

Sometimes whenever he listens to simple things that we say like,” Help us prepare the table,” and then does what we say, we are happy.

 We also enjoy when he shows that he is responsible, like he brings the laundry basket back to its proper place and when returning home from school he will take off his shoes and socks and place them by the door where they belong without any prompting from us.”

 How do you celebrate Father’s day?

” Simply, we just have a family dinner together at a restaurant. Or enjoy food with extended family. “

Down syndrome boy with DadHow did Nathan affect your views on life? 

” Sometimes, we  still question why there is such a  thing as a special kid.

 We wonder if everybody should be the same with their knowledge and growth.

 Many times we ask why do we have to take care of Nathan with things, when other kids can do them by themselves. “

Any advice to other special needs dads on how to take care of their special child?

” Just be patient with everything that they do.

Sometimes they get frustrated when they can’t do it the first time or within a certain amount of time, so just explain how to do it with simple words, try to make eye contact, and get down to their level. 

This shows that you see them as an equal and are not looking down on them (as opposed to standing) giving off a commanding vibe. 

Also when interacting with them or if you’re trying to get their attention, do it in a playful manner.

Lastly, spend as much time with them as possible. “

 Any other experiences with Nathan that you want to share?

“He loves to stay with us when it’s bedtime and is reluctant to leave our room to go to his own bed, but because of his bad habits when sleeping (wanting to occupy the whole space) we have to make him go to his room.

 Lastly, he loves the water but sometimes when we go to the beach, it’s a struggle since he doesn’t want to go home.”

Click here to get ten inspirational quotes about kids and parenting.

Arnold and Alyanna

A hardworking dad juggling two jobs, Arnold is a caring father to three kids with Alyanna as the youngest.

As busy as he is with his jobs, he still finds time to fix their house,  ( his hobby ) and when he starts a project, he doesn’t stop until it’s done.

His latest project was making a washroom in their basement from scratch.

A self-made handy man indeed!

And a man of few words.

Tell us about Alyanna

Girl with Cornelia de Lange syndrome

 

” My daughter Alyanna is a sweet little 6 year old child,  with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome

She just learned how to walk confidently on her own and she has been roaming around our house lately.

As long as her tummy is full and she has enough sleep, she is just full of energy and smiles. “

When did you know that Alyanna was special and how did you react?

” At birth, we were told that Alyanna might have Down syndrome, so work up was done right away, but eventually, she was diagnosed with Cornelia de Lange syndrome.

It was easy for me to accept her condition, after all, she is still our sweet little girl. “

Is there a special activity that you bond together as dad and daughter?

Girl with Cornelia de Lange syndrome and dad

” Singing and playing the guitar is our favorite bonding activity.

Alyanna really listens to me intently when I do this.

When I feed her, I also let her watch Nursery rhymes in my cellphone and she loves it.

She smiles and laughs a lot!”

How do you share with your wife in taking care of Alyanna?

” We work alternate shifts, but my mother who is visiting,  is having the bigger  part of taking care of Alyanna these days.

I’m a hands-on dad, so I have learned how to change her diapers and give her food to eat. “

Do you have any fears or concerns about her future?

” Yes, I just hope that when she is older and we are not around anymore, her siblings could help her in whatever way. 

We have been saving some money too, for her future care. “

Does Alyanna have any big challenges at the present and how do you handle them?

She is non-verbal, so communication is a big challenge, and she is still very dependent  on us for everything, so our love for her and lots of patience do the trick.

Is there an activity that Alyanna enjoys doing?

” As of now, she likes to walk around the house and listen to me while I  play the guitar.

She also loves watching Nursery rhymes in the cellphone or the television.”

How does Alyanna make you and your family happy?

Girl with Cornelia de Lange syndrome with family

 

” She is so amiable that her smile and laugh is contagious. ” 

How do you celebrate Father’s day?

” Usually I’m working on Father’s day, but my family finds time to celebrate with me, like we eat out in a restaurant. “

Was there an impact to you when Alyanna came into your life? 

” Yes, indeed I became more resilient to the challenges of life.”

Papa Erning and Pangga

My dad is caring in his unique way, which I call tough love. He is a disciplinarian, especially for my brothers, who when they were younger, would challenge him in some ways.

Dad of a Down syndrome girl

Even Pangga then had challenging times when Papa would reprimand her for taking too long in the shower and wasted lots of water.

Papa has mellowed over the years, but his grandchildren would still get his “tough discipline,” from time to time when they would sneak those ice candies from the fridge that were for sale.

Oh well, I guess Papa’s tough love has made us learn how to discipline our very own kids.

 When did you learn that Pangga was special and how did you react? 


” When we learned later that Pangga was special, we took extra care of her, especially giving her breastmilk from her mom and some milk supplement, too.

It was easy to accept that she is a gift from God and a lucky charm for our family.”

 Share with us Pangga’s  growth and development.

I don’t exactly remember at what age Pangga learned how to walk and talk, but I’m sure it was later than her other siblings. 

When she was big enough, my wife’s aunt took care of Pangga because there were 4 other younger siblings  after her. 

Every afternoon, they would go to church, so Pangga learned how to sing the prayer ” Our Father,” in the Filipino version.

 Eventually, she learned how to talk and would answer simple questions. 

She loved to sing, she had a good voice, thus singing became constant for her. “

How did you share with your wife in taking care of Pangga?

 I would help the best that I could, like prepare her bed, food, and give her medicine when she was sick.

 We are a big family, and although there were nannies to help, I was always there to support my wife in whatever way I can. “

Do you remember any struggles or big challenges as she was growing up?

” Nothing serious when Pangga was growing up, but just before her demise, she got sick with slight fever and wouldn’t eat for about a week until the local doctor treated her for a urinary tract infection.

 Later she was brought to hospital because she stopped peeing. Her tummy was observed to be swollen after a day and was advised to be brought  to a tertiary hospital in the city where the doctors found a serious abdominal infection due to ruptured appendicitis and pneumonia.

Her sisters brought her to the city, and we stayed behind in the province because my wife and I are already quite frail for our age to travel.”

Did you hope that Pangga would grow old?

Girl with Down syndrome

” From early on, we knew that people like Pangga don’t really grow old, more like they pass away in their 20’s, so we feel that we were  lucky to be with her until she was  46 years old.

Though we were unprepared of her death, somehow, we were comforted that she is now in heaven without those pains and suffering, and looks upon us from up there.

We know that she is now an angel looking after us.”

How did Pangga make you and your family happy?

” Being special, we always believed that she was the lucky charm in our family. 

Her innocence and her no nonsense humor made us happy. 

Just listening to her songs with some funny lyrics made our day. “

Related post: Luxury on Mother’s day…our Special needs moms deserve it

What do you miss most about Pangga?

” Pangga’s presence in our family is missed so much since she was considered the lucky gem and our home felt so empty without her, especially for the first few months after she passed away.

 It has been almost five years that she’s gone and we have accepted it and used to not seeing her around anymore, although her memories will always stay with us.

Of course, when we see people like her, we do really miss her!

She was the first ever member who has gone ahead,  in our family of twelve.

 Our home used to be somewhat busy with her presence because she was considered the youngest, and mentally she was like 5-6 years old only, thus we have to remind her always about lots of stuff like, to wash her hands before and after eating, after using the toilet and to take a bath and limit her time in the bathroom.

You know if you have kids around the house, it always feels busy and chaotic.

We also miss her singing that even in the middle of the night, she would sing when she couldn’t sleep.”


Down syndrome girl is considered the youngest in the family

How do you celebrate Father’s day?

” If we have enough budget, we prepare food for family and extended family.

Usually our kids from abroad call us on this special day and sometimes they give me money to spend for some celebration.

Just knowing that my children are all successful in their careers and married life, with the exception of my other special child ( he is now 56 but mentally, like 7-8 only ), my wife and I are happy that we have raised responsible kids who always see to it that our medical needs are met and are always willing to help us out in whatever way.

For me, I don’t need big celebrations for Father’s day, my children’s greetings and well wishes are all that matters.”

 

There you go, three special needs fathers and their experiences in raising their special kids.

Their support and help to their wives cannot be ignored, always appreciated.

To my brothers-in-law, Jojo and Arnold, and my dad, Papa Erning, thank you for all that you did and are still doing for Nathan, Alyanna, Pangga and Batch.

To my other brother-in-law, Aries, whom I failed to interview, your care and love for Mark is much appreciated, as well.

Related post: A Mother’s Unconditional Love.. It is for Real

It’s really challenging raising our kids, more so if they have special needs,  but of course they  give our families pure joy and bliss with their innocence.

Happy Father’s day to all our special needs dads out there!

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Hey, special needs dads, what is your best bonding activity with your special kid? Please share with us.

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Down Syndrome with Autism-My Son has both and he is a Gift from God!

I have written a post on Mother’s day about five awesome special needs moms and Diane was one of them.

She described her life with Nathan a little bit in that article and today, you will learn more about their story. Their extraordinary life of Down syndrome with Autism.

Related post : Luxury on Mother’s day…our special needs moms deserve it 

Me and Diane

Let me bring you first to the time when we were younger. Diane is my sister and we have 4 years in between us, so basically we have plenty of times growing up together.

We went to the same schools from elementary, to high school, until university. As little girls, our mom would sew us the same clothes, like we were twins. I think she would wear hand-me-downs from me as well.

When she graduated from the elementary, I graduated from high school.

Because I did another four years in medical school, we shared the same dormitory when she enrolled in Nursing. Would you believe, she was more determined in reviewing her lessons than me, she would stay up later at night than me.

But of course, even if I slept early, I would wake up in the middle of the night or early the next morning to catch up on my review. I guess we just have different ways of studying.

She got married earlier than me and went abroad earlier as well, so later on, we just saw each other a few times every few years but of course, the bond will be always there as sisters.

Okay, off to their story, the real story of this blog.

I’ll be repeating some questions from the previous post but this is just so you will understand more if you were not able to read the other post.

Tell us about yourself and your family.

Down syndrome child with family

” My name is Diane, a post-op surgical nurse, married to an OR nurse, with two kids.

I was 42 when I had Nathan, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth and autism at around 8-9 years old, although he already showed early signs like losing his words at around 4. 

Joanne, my eldest is now 24 and Nathan is almost 13. “

Related post: Big sister, little brother- he has Down syndrome and autism

Did you know that Nathan had Down syndrome when you were pregnant?

” I didn’t believe right away even though it was 25 % + in my blood work because two of my friends were 25% + and gave birth to healthy babies .

Also, series of ultrasound didn’t show any sign of Down syndrome .

My specialist wanted to do amniocentesis, but I declined.

Of course, he was not happy of my decision, but he can’t do anything if it’ll show that my baby has Down syndrome.

I’ll just be in pain and there’s a possibility of losing the baby. He was slightly annoyed because he can’t convince me.

I told the doctor that whether my baby comes out with congenital defects or Down syndrome, we would still accept and love him.

And that’s why I chose his name to be Nathaniel because it means gift from God, according to the book of baby names.”

How did you react when you learned that he had Down syndrome at birth?

” When Nathan was born, they told me right away in the delivery table that they will test him for trisomy 21 because of the typical upward slant of his eyes and the straight line on his left hand.

I gave my permission, but I was in denial because even though I have a sister with Down syndrome, I heard from old folks that the possibility of having another Down syndrome in the family will come in the next generation.

I was told that day that the result was positive!

My pleasant day turned into silence of worries.

I was alone in my room.

The parent's guide to Down Syndrome
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Our eleven year old daughter was in school.

My husband was not yet back from the Philippines. Two weeks prior to my expected delivery, his sister died suddenly and I let him go to pay his last respect.

And we moved temporarily to my sister- in-law while he was away just in case I needed help anytime.

I made an overseas call the next morning to let my husband know that I gave birth already. I also told him that our son was diagnosed with Down syndrome.

Another moment of silence on the other end and he flew back right away after his sister was laid to rest. “

Was your pregnancy with Nathan the same as your first?

My pregnancy was wonderful. I felt so good and energized after 11 years of trying. Was it because he was a boy?

On my girl who was my first one, I had these horrible feelings all day long for 7 months. I just couldn’t understand what’s going on with my body!

That’s why it took me 5 years to forget my first pregnancy.

I even had postpartum blues – I would suddenly burst out crying loud without any reason when it was only me and my baby at home.”

After diagnosis at birth what happened next?

” There were a lot of struggles from the beginning of Nathan’s life in the outside world.

My mind started to get pre-occupied with things that needed to be attended to everyday.

For a few days, we had to go back to the hospital for more tests that I don’t remember exactly now.

I knew we made appointments to his new pediatrician, cardiologist, urologist, endocrinologist, and geneticist.

Those were quite overwhelming!

There were back and forth appointments almost every week to see his different specialists.

Then we were referred to government agencies who evaluated him in their offices and we were also interviewed at home by their own coordinators.

Physical therapy started when he was 3 months old followed by Occupational therapy, then Speech therapy when he was a little bit older.

They would come to our house 1-2 x per week and that would depend on their evaluation and assessment.

We were just so thankful that we all have those supports. “

How was Nathan’s early development?

Down syndrome child starts school

” At three years old, Nate was placed in the school system so he can socialize.

But before that, I was advised to put him on a daycare.

I found a nearby daycare that I like, but one day during pick up time he was eating his chicken nuggets and he got choked.

We had to do Heimlich maneuver till it got dislodged.

His first 2 yrs in prekindergarten was very exciting. Nathan enjoyed his class.

He knew about more or less 100 words at this time.

He liked to say “hi” to everyone, he was the greeter of the class. “

You said Nathan was diagnosed with autism at 8-9 years old. Can you elaborate on this?

” When he was four,  he had flu shot for the first time per his doctor’s advice and encouragement because I was very hesitant for him to have it.

He got sick for about a week with slight fever after the needle.

And we noticed that he stopped talking.

He couldn’t even identify the pictures in the flash cards.

I was so angry with the doctor !

I called the clinic to inform them about the reactions that I noticed in him.

It took about a year before Nathan got 25 words back from the flash cards, even if he was on speech therapy in school.

Since then until now, Nathan doesn’t get flu shots anymore.

( As a Pediatrician, I always convince my sister that this is not due to the vaccine, but only coincidence that Nathan started showing signs of autism during the time of the vaccines. )

At his annual checkup when he was 6 years old, we were told that he’s due again for booster vaccinations.

Again, I was worried that Nathan will react to these 4 vaccines that they will give him. The doctor gave me assurance that they are different vaccines this time and there’s no evidence that these vaccines can cause autism.

Nathan had overt signs of autism at this time- he liked to isolate himself, loved to wiggle his socks on the air after he removed them, circled our living room, and enjoyed rocking for hours in our recliner/ rocking chair.

We moved the chair to our garage & he would still visit and rock himself there even without light.

Rocks back and forth as sign of autism

The doctor further said that the person who made the article about autism as caused by vaccination was already in prison for giving a false statement to the public.

I was convinced of course, knowing it’ll protect my son for any future ailments.

And once again, he got sick for about a week and the more that he didn’t talk .

His behavior got worse as well.

He would always pull our hair, couldn’t follow simple instructions, pinched us all the time, including his teachers and other kids in school.

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Another therapy was added, it’s behavior therapy this time and he was about 7 years old then, and done with physical therapy at 6 years old.

Thank God, Nathan got better gradually and he also got bladder trained around 7 years old.

It took awhile for him to be officially diagnosed with autism because our insurance stopped paying fully when he was more than three and it was so expensive to see a developmental pediatrician and other therapists.

So I have to look for a doctor who did not charge very much because we were spending from our own pockets. “

What are your fears for his future and how are you preparing for this?

” That’s always in my mind because he’s my son . Sometimes I worry because he’s not that independent and he has only one sister who could help him in the future.

So, we already signed some papers in the government agency that Nathan can live outside his family if he chooses to be independent someday.

This is part of government benefit here in our place and we are thankful that they will help in taking care of him.”

How is Nathan at present?

” He has only around ten words that he says constantly and he’s basically non-verbal but he can express himself in his own way.

He goes to a Special Education program everyday for 6 hours and he loves it!
Nathan loves going to school

He wakes up in the morning without struggle, eats his breakfast, brushes his teeth and off he goes.

He usually takes a bath before bedtime.

Nathan loves to eat anything especially chicken or any meat for that matter.

He scoops the meat first on the table and eats the veggies later. If he is alone in the table, he will grab all the meat!

He doesn’t like whole fruits though, so I blenderize them, 3-4 kinds at a time, all fruits, no sugar or milk, so I always put in banana to sweeten the taste.

Nathan still does behavior therapy at school for 15 hours per week.

And he has improved a lot!

He does not isolate himself anymore in the corner, no more shaking of his socks in the air, no more biting, pulls our hair less frequently, and less circling and rocking.

Nate does seasonal sports in school like basketball, as well as weekly music and dance therapy.

Outside of school, he loves to swing at the park and swim. “

Do you have some advises to moms out there on how to take care of their special child?

” Be a friend to your special child, explain everything that you do so they can follow whatever you are teaching them, they will learn eventually though slow, of course.

By repeating things, they will be able to recall in due time.

Praise all the time, they usually like the positive and happy approach.

I tickle Nathan when he does not follow quickly whatever I tell him.

Don’t hurt them, just be patient and calm, with a happy tone plus explanation then they will eventually follow.

Teach them how to be responsible, like let them bring their own clothes or socks from the closet when they need to change.

Or let them bring light grocery items from the car to the house and their backpack to the car when going to school and when getting inside your home from school.

Most of all, give them lots of hugs and kisses, that way they will feel your love and care. “

Down syndrome and autism- my son has both and he is a gift from God

 

What has been your biggest challenge in raising your special child? Please share your story with us.

 

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How to Travel with Family including your Special Child ( with Less Stress )

Have you tried going somewhere with your whole family including your special child?

I sure did, with my son who was only three years old then. He is not special but being very young of course has its own challenges and it was our first international travel as a family.

Later in 2016, we traveled again across the globe, this time with my sister who had 3 young kids and one of them is special plus my son who was already eleven that time, but still a kid especially if he is with his young cousins.

During that trip, we had a problem with our checked-in luggage at the lay over airport where we stayed for about 8 hours overnight. Our spouses were not with us and we had to check out our big boxes and travel bags and check in them again early the next morning for our next flight.

We had to contact a friend from that place which took awhile because they were out to someplace, but of course, they helped us and took our luggage to their place and brought them to the airport again the following morning.

Because we knew that we were staying overnight at that place and because we had kids along, I booked for a hotel close to the airport so we could comfortably sleep and maybe let the kids go for a swim at their pool before bedtime.

Lo and behold because of that problem with our luggage, we were able to stay in our hotel for only about 3 hours and it was already midnight when we checked in. Of course, the kids were so disappointed and my sister and I and were so tired already that we just hit the bed and slept for the remaining 3 hours.

From that experience, we learned valuable lessons, therefore I have some suggestions on how to travel with  family including your special child with less stress.

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1. Plan ahead of time

Plan ahead of time to make travel less stressful

  • One year to six months before travel, look for the place where you want to go. Research where you can stay and find out what amenities they have so you can plan on the activities that you can do to enjoy. Remember you are traveling to have fun or to visit family and friends.
  • Ask time off from work before buying tickets. Be sure that your supervisor allows you to have this vacation or if you are self-employed, plan so your work is free during that time or you have accomplished what needs to be done so you don’t have to think of work when you are on vacay.
  • Ask permission from the school and teachers of your child if your vacay falls on schooldays; tell them the date, how long is the absence from class and if they have exams to give before the trip or homework that they can let your child bring so he will not miss a lot.
  • Buy your two-way plane tickets 4-6 months in advance so they are paid off when it’s time for you to leave. You can also buy tickets that are lower in price when you book in advance. Again be sure that when you buy, you are sure of the date because re-booking will cause you to lose more money.
  • If you have 1 or more layovers, be sure to look into connecting flights with less than 4 hours layover, otherwise, you will have to check out your luggage and check in again at the next flight. That’s what happened to us. A hard lesson learned! To be sure, when you check in at your local airport, ask if your checked in luggage are to be picked up in your final destination.

2. Make a checklist

Checklist on how to travel with less stress

  • What to do before the trip– check if the passports are updated or if about to expire, apply for a renewal if needed, ask permission from work and school, buy plane or train tickets in advance and book accommodations.
  • What to prepare– your luggage need to be ready at least a month to two weeks before the trip to minimize forgetting things. Do you need to buy new luggage in case the ones that you have are old and outdated?
  • What to buy for the trip- Do you need to buy gifts for families or friends that you will visit in this trip? Make a checklist of the people or the families that you need to give to. Or do you need to buy new clothes, swimwear, toiletries, etc?
  • What to bring for the trip- clothes, toiletries, gifts for friends and families if meeting them, swimming attire, lightweight stroller for young or special kids. This is very important, so everything that you need will be in your luggage.
  • Where to go – visit museums, go to theme parks, like Disney parks, go to resorts. Encourage the older kids to research where they want to go including the addresses, trip plans, tickets, etc. If you can book in advance those tickets, it’s really encouraged so you won’t miss those shows that you want to watch.
  • Final checklist a few days before the trip-things or essentials that need to be put to your luggage or personal bag at the last minute, so you won’t forget, like passports, tickets, toiletries, cellphones, etc.

3. Bring stuff to make the plane ride fun and easy

Favorite toy on a plane ride

  • Head pillows are really helpful so you can sleep well during travel especially if you are having a long trip.
  • Snacks- Kids get hungry easily so bring food so they won’t get so fuzzy. Grab easy to swallow food such as yogurt or bananas for those who have chewing or swallowing issues.
  • Milk for the younger kids, especially if they are still bottle feeding or even in sippy cups and still dependent on milk for their daily sustenance.
  • Books and art materials like coloring books- to keep your kids busy so they won’t get bored.
  • Sweater and socks– needed if the temperature might become too cold
  • Favorite toy– a sensory toy would help your special child feel relaxed throughout the trip
  • Weighted blanket, if your special child has one, or plan to buy to help your child’s meltdowns or to just make him relax most of the time.

4. Don’t forget the lightweight stroller

The lightweight stroller

  • If you have young kids or your special kid is younger and gets easily tired with long walks or is still unable to walk, a lightweight stroller is a must for those long walks in the airport and in the parks or shopping malls.
  • Some strollers even have pockets or trays where you can put your stuff  and the baby’s bag so it’s really a must!

5. Expect some tantrums or meltdowns and be ready

  • Bring your patience and lots of love during this trip.
  • Kids are kids and especially if they have special needs, tantrums and meltdowns are  part of the package. Make them as comfortable as possible and watch out for signs so you can be ready and support your child the best that you can.
  • Avoid crowds and too much noise because these can trigger attacks. Ear plugs could be of help for big noises and eye patch for bright lights. Find some place with open space, even in parks, so your child will not be overwhelmed.
  • Include rest in your activities. Do not rush to accomplish a lot in a day. This way, your special child and the whole family will enjoy more if you feel rested and with enough enthusiasm for the next adventure!

6. Pack light and early

  • It’s so hard to lift up a heavy load or bag.
  • I remember during that incident in the airport, we had lots of boxes of 50 pounds more or less and because we had no adult males in the group, my sister and I had to lift those boxes and travel bags by ourselves.
  • Just bring the essentials and if you can buy the other stuff, like toiletries or gifts in the place where you’re going, do it so your baggage are not as heavy.
  • Your back, arms and shoulders will thank you for those light load.
  • Start packing two weeks before the trip. That way, you will not forget the things that you need to bring. Even a month if you have lots to pack, like including gifts for family.
  • Make use of your checklist and cross out the things that are already in the suitcases. I usually have color coding where I place which stuff so I can always find where I put everything.
  • Early packing  is really important because if you need to buy some more necessities for the trip, there is ample time to complete them.

7. Put important stuff in the carry on or in your personal bag

How to travel in a family-important stuff in carry on

  • Keep one set of clothes for every family member including underwear and a towel in the carry on, so if there’s delay in the plane’s schedule, you are ready if you need to change in the airport or wherever you will get stucked.
  • Also, keep your jewelries and important papers or documents, cameras, cellphones, laptops, in your carry on or personal bag so they won’t get lost or stolen in the check in bags.
  • If you have a baby or your special child with a certain food or is still drinking milk, be sure to keep their milk or specific food in a personal bag. Or their favorite snacks.
  • Don’t forget your printed itinerary and plane or train or boat tickets plus your passports in your purse so they are easy to grab when checking in.
  • Your credit cards, ATM cards or cash should be safely tucked in your purse as well.

8. Instruct the older kids to be responsible

How to travel in a family-older kid to take care of younger sibling

  • If you have 2-3 kids in your group, let the older kids be responsible with the younger ones.
  • Of course, when you are walking in the airport or in a large park for example, it is easy to loose some of your kids if they wander around or you walk faster than them.
  • So, tell the older sibling or cousin to watch out for the younger kin and they need to be together at all times and follow the lead of the parent wherever they are going.

9. Backpacks for every kid

  • Keep their favorite toys and books or art materials in their backpacks so it is easy to grab them when they need them. Make it personal for them and include their phones or iPad if they have.
  • You can also put here a shirt and underwear and toiletries.
  • There will be less stress if they are responsible for their stuff. 

10. Buddy system

Buddy system while travelling for less stress

  • This is really helpful if you are a family of 4 or more, especially if there is extended family in the group.
  • Assign every young member to an older one and tell them to be together at all times and be responsible with one another.
  • Everybody is accountable with somebody so nobody will be left behind.

11. GPS tracking unit

GPS tracking system for travel

  • If traveling by land around the place, like if you have a hired car, a GPS tracking unit is really essential.
  • This way, you know where you will be going instead of worry if you will get lost or not.
  • This will also save time so you can arrive at your destination faster and not miss any schedule of events.

12. Make a picture or mental plan of what is going to happen in this trip

How to travel with a family-mental planning for less stress

  • Imagine yourselves leaving the house and think of the time that you’re supposed to arrive at the airport or train station to avoid delays or missing your schedules. Allot 2 hours allowance to be in the airport or the train station to allow enough time to check in.
  • At the airport or train station- what you will need to check in ( passports, tickets or itineraries- are they in your purse? )
  • Arriving at the airport destination or your destination place. Have you booked your transportation to your hotel or resort or are there families or friends who are picking you up? If so, do you have their phone numbers with you in case you need to call them from the airport?
  • Daily activities-list of places to visit and timetable of these activities
  • Rest days or hours should be part of your trip so your bodies have time to recover from fatigue.
  • Regular ( or almost ) sleeping hours so immunity is not compromised. You will enjoy more if you will not get sick.
  • Visit to families or friends if this is part of your trip and what to give them. Spending time with loved ones during a trip is healthy and fun.
  • Returning home– again the itinerary, plane tickets and the passports, before leaving the hotel or where you stayed, double check if you have them in your purse.

Enjoy and have fun!

Vacations are always fun and exciting but oftentimes, coupled with stress, especially if no proper planning is in place. Therefore, plan in advance so your trip will be smooth with fewer kinks.

Include your older kids when organizing the trip, so they know where to go, what to expect, how to be responsible for their younger siblings and how to behave properly.

Sometimes, they also want to decide where to go and what activities they want to do.

Make your trip fun and educational. If it’s a new place that you’re visiting, go to their museums, libraries, or tourist information areas.

If you can meet local people and learn from them about their culture, food, and lifestyle, that’s a very good way to learn new things about them.

Travel with a family-fun with less stress

Remember, you can go on vacations once or twice a year only, unless you have lots of money, so make it really worth remembering, with less stress but with more fun.

Collect memories with your families including your special child and when you look back later through your pictures or videos, your children will appreciate all the beautiful memories that you have shared.

Have a fun holiday!

How to travel with family including your special child

Have you booked for your family vacation this summer? Where do you plan to go? Share your destination with us plus the activities that you plan to do.

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