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Karen Wang
BY Karen Wang
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5 Products for Kids with Special Needs That You Didn’t Know You Needed

Life with special needs means solving one problem after another until the day is done. Even the simplest tasks can become a lesson in self-care and independent living. Every now and then, I come across a product that makes one of those life lessons a little bit easier.

Here are five unique items that can help with issues typically encountered by families with special needs:

1. Squatty Potty

squatty potty

Digestive problems and low muscle tone are common among people with disabilities, leading to constipation or straining on the toilet.

The Squatty Potty is a footstool that positions the legs at a squatting angle, which opens up the pelvic floor muscles and enables efficient evacuation of the bowels without straining. It may sound far-fetched, but it is backed up by multiple medical studies.

2. Water Bottle With Sport Cap

klean kanteen

Occupational therapists often recommend sucking on a straw or water bottle for a quick calming effect. I carry a stainless steel water bottle with a sport cap to reduce the risk of spills and to manage anxiety and meltdowns. The Klean Kanteen might get dented, but it’s really difficult to destroy. And, it’s available in several sizes and colors.

3. Zubits Magnetic Shoe Closures

zubits magnetic shoelaces

Tying shoelaces can be frustrating and time-consuming for a person with fine motor delays. Zubits magnetic shoe closures simplify the process of putting on or taking off shoes. The two parts of the magnetic clasp are laced onto the shoe once, and then they snap open and closed whenever needed.

4. Case-It Binder

case it binder

My son had a problem of forgetting to bring home the correct folder or notebook to do his homework. He was also having difficulty carrying a stack of books and folders from class to class. We decided to try a Case-It Binder so that he had one notebook for all of his classes, and it’s been a big success.

The “Mighty Zip Tab” binder has a color-coded accordion file with a pencil case and a three-ring binder. The whole thing zips closed so that no papers fall out, and can be carried like a briefcase. Now the homework always comes home.

5. Perplexus

perplexus

My family spends a lot of time on activities that encourage visual tracking skills, such as pinball and air hockey. One simple and highly addictive activity that promotes visual-spatial skills is the three-dimensional maze called Perplexus. The Perplexus is a clear plastic ball with a labyrinth inside. The goal is to move a small ball bearing along the track through the whole maze from beginning to end.

Even a tiny mistake will knock the ball bearing off track, so a person is forced to give the activity full attention while playing. Because everything is contained inside the ball, there are no small pieces to lose, so the Perplexus travels with us on road trips. I recommend starting with the Perplexus Rookie before trying the Original or Epic.

Is there an unusual product that you can’t live without? Use the comment section below to tell us about it!

 

Karen Wang

Written on December 15, 2015 by:

Karen Wang is a Friendship Circle parent. You may have seen her sneaking into the volunteer lounge for ice cream or being pushed into the cheese pit by laughing children. She is a contributing author to the anthology "My Baby Rides the Short Bus: The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids With Disabilities"
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