Thursday, February 17, 2011

Equipment Mistakes

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.


  1. Vanessa,

    I was reading your post and saw Rifton, a company we love and have purchased trikes from, a few times, for our son, Matthew. Well, what you shared about the "Rifton Blue Wave Toilet" caught my interest because we are looking for a shower chair-toilet chair for our child and we have an organization who will possibly fund it. I have the application but I haven't been able to fill out the application completely to include the exact chair that we want for Matthew (because I am having trouble finding one). Until just now, that is...THANKS TO YOU!!

    I am viewing the Rifton Blue Wave Toilet chair now on their website and it looks like a great fit for our child and his needs.

    I will also be looking into possible lending libraries in our area to perhaps borrow it first.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you sooooo much!!


  2. Sandie - If you have any specific questions, please email me. I'd be happy to talk to you. I do not have any concerns about it, but can share some trouble points that may be just a boy thing, if you get my drift. And I suggest getting the tray with it as well. It offers extra support and another block for that boy problem I mentioned. Glad this helped out.

  3. Vanessa, I was just exploring the Rifton Blue Wave Toilet again tonight and told my husband that I think I will e-mail you to ask some questions that I am having about it (with respect to the *ahem* boy problem and splash guard and a few other things to get your input(since you are using it with Ben).

    So it was a nice surprise when I came back to your blog to read this post again and just now found your reply comment to me. Thank you very much for your offer to answer my questions. I appreciate it so much. Although I must admit that my old computer is no longer working so I lost access to my e-mail program and address book with all e-mail contacts, including your e-mail. Could you please e-mail me at your convenience so I can get in touch with you? Thank you very much.



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