When your child has disabilities, you start to notice as they get older that some products that you'd like to buy just aren't easy to get hold of - or available at all. And if they are, you can guarantee that there is no doubt a disability price tag attached to it! You know that one where they multiply the normal price by ten adding lots of extra zeros?
My friend and I often joke that if we were entrepreneurial enough, we'd set up a store for the disabled community with an array of products at affordable prices. Someone is missing a trick! There are so many products not on store shelves that I know would sell! And why are we so often ripped off?
So businesses, if you ever feel like listening - here are just some of the things parents would like to be easily available to buy...
Bigger Nappies and Swimming Nappies
In the UK we are lucky to have the NHS continence service, but not everyone is entitled to free nappies and not everyone gets the amount that they need. There are bigger nappies available online, but these tend to come with the disability price tag and less in a pack than standard sized nappies. It would be great to be able to buy bigger sizes at a reasonable price in supermarkets. I actually started a petition about this in the UK last year, so watch this space!
Similarly, we have the same issue with swimming nappies. I've just bought Brody one online that is washable, but in the UK it's very hard to buy disposable swimming nappies for older children and adults.
Bigger Ride-On Toys
My 5 year old son Brody learnt to use a ride on toy when he was nearly 4 years old. He is tall and now sadly too big for them all. He is unable to use pedals. I contacted Little Tikes to ask if they would consider making a bigger Cosy Coupe last year because it literally breaks my heart when Brody tries to climb into his younger sister's. And I know I'm not alone. I have seen lots of people online with the same predicament so many times.
Little Tikes response was that there wasn't a big enough market for it.
Hmm, I beg to differ!
Bigger Push Along Toys
Bigger push along toys for children who are late to walk or just like to push toys along like buggies would be great. My son was a late walker and needed support for a long time. These days he loves push along toys, like his toy lawn mower and buggy, but they are fast becoming too small for him.
Cartoon Character Clothing
Character clothing tends to stop at a certain age. The age when a neuro-typical child is no longer interested in having Bing Bunny or Peppa Pig on a t-shirt. It's sad for parents who can't buy their child a t-shirt with their favourite character on because they are typically "too old" for it. Someone please make them in bigger sizes!
Whilst we're at it, can we make the head holes in t-shirts a little bit bigger for children who have slightly bigger heads like mine?
Trousers with Nappy Space
Yes, I'm back to nappies again! There are a limited number of stores where I can now buy Brody trousers from because a lot of trousers for children his age have less room around the bum and not enough space for a nappy. They also have really skinny legs on them.
We need trousers - jeans, joggers, cargo pants, shorts and pyjama bottoms - with higher and elasticated waists. I'm lucky there are a few stores I can rely on at the moment. But I know this will get harder as he gets older. Then I'll have to refer to a catalogue with no doubt overpriced trousers and a disability price tag. Sigh!
Trousers with Reinforced Knees
If your child falls over a lot like mine, you'll get through trousers very quickly. Is there such thing as trousers with reinforced knees? If not, please can some entrepreneurial genius design and sell some for our kids?!
Sensory Friendly Clothes
A friend of mine struggles to find her 12 year old daughter short-sleeved jersey dresses with no buttons, textures or other embellishments. As seam free and decoration free as possible please!
Can we add seam free socks to this list?
Bigger All-in-one Pyjamas with Feet
Is it just me or do these seem to stop being available at around 4 years of age? We struggle with bedtime wear. A lot. Brody won't keep a duvet on him and it's hard to guess whether he is too hot or too cold (he is unable to tell us). Fleecy all-in-one suits with feet on have been brilliant in the past, but we now can't find any in his size.
Brody is fortunate enough to have a travel bed on loan currently from a charity. It has high material walls that are soft and is low to the ground. This means that when he bangs his head, which he frequently does, he doesn't hurt himself. You can also zip the side of the bed up if you like so that he is asleep in a safe space. Brody has epilepsy, as well as autism so a safe bed is essential.
The bed is fantastic but it costs over £4000. I've seen other safety sleeper beds advertised online for similar prices. The cost is ridiculous! I don't know how they even begin to justify it
You can add specialist seating here too! My friend's son who has complex disabilities has a bean bag with effectively a Velcro strap attached to it. It cost £600. Not hard to make. Why the cost?
If your child needs specialist shoes, you'll know that these come at a price. Thank god for the NHS in the UK. Brody's piedro boots cost around £120.
If your child has an AFO or splint, you'll know finding shoes that they fit into is a total pain!
There's a gap in the market here!
Someone please design a bigger buggy that you can buy in stores that doesn't have that disability price tag. I promise people will buy it. Do it now!
Bigger Car Seats
Again - come on! Why does a seat that looks identical to a slightly smaller version cost so much more money? Bigger car seats with a 5-point harness that don't cost the earth to buy. They. Will. Sell!
Inclusive Play Parks
When playgrounds are built, so often children with autism and other disabilities are missed out of the thought process. Bigger swings, equipment for wheelchairs, sensory play equipment. There are so many things that could make play parks inclusive. Yet most aren't even in the slightest. This is why we love our own garden so much. There is play equipment Brody can use and we know he is safe, which is paramount.
But surely all children should be able to enjoy their local playground?
What do you think?
What would you add to the list if you could?
Maybe one day, if we all shout loud enough, someone out there will hear us and help us parents out.
This blog was originally written for and published by Autism Awareness.