Ordering equipment for your child with special needs is time consuming, exhausting, stressful and full of ways to make big mistakes. Please learn from me - I have made those mistakes!
1. Work with others. School and private therapists are an invaluable resource. Use them all to make the decision. For whatever reason, we once ordered a walker for Ben without consulting other therapists and we made a big mistake. Ben was not ready for this walker and it sits in our attic right now.
2. Do not rush. I knew we had about 7 months to order three pieces of equipment for Ben in order to be in the insurance cycle for this year. I sent emails to the therapists letting them know that I wanted to order equipment for Ben. This started a dialogue with all the therapists.
It took time to find a reputable company that took our insurance. Often these companies are understaffed, so make sure you can get the salesman to meet with you, be available for questions and be willing to come out to the school and your home for consultations. Many times, the therapists have relationships with the equipment companies and can make recommendations.
3. Try it out first. We tried out the walker Ben was using at school at home and at private PT. Ben's community workers were also able to weigh in on the decision. After months of going back and forth, we knew we were all happy with the one he was using at school.
There are also lending libraries that may help. Ben has been borrowing a Rifton Blue Wave Toilet since November and we are now ordering one for him. I cannot imagine life before it.
4. Size matters. Measure once, check the charts for fit and then measure again. If you do take several months for this process, your child may have grown an inch or two or gained a few pounds. And think about when you will be able to order again - it may make sense to get the next size up, or it may not. In North Carolina, you may only order a walker every three years. Be sure to know the rules and regulations.
5. Play the funding game. Check with your insurance - what is your deductible, co-insurance, co-payments, out-of-pocket expenses? If they will be met soon, wait to order. Also see what outside funding sources may be available. A portion of Ben's cranial helmet was paid for by a fund through a company. Ask around, you may be surprised how local organizations are willing to help.