I have a bit of a bug bear when it comes to "special needs" equipment... anything which seems to have those two words attached to them seem to somehow also have extra pound/dollar signs attached too! Don't get me going on the pros and cons or reasons as to why or why not this should be the case... I would be here for ever.... and it wouldn't be very pretty!
Lets just say I like to try to side step around the price tags and be a bit more savvy when it comes to choosing equipment for Heni.
Some evenings, when Heni is put into bed (when she is very tired) she will go straight to sleep, but other times, she either plays contentedly with her "doll" friends or will moan and moan ....and moan! I've been thinking for quite some time that it might be nice for Heni to have something to keep her entertained on those "moany" evenings and give her a chance to chill out before she eventually falls to sleep.
I thought it would be nice to turn her room in to more of a "sensory room" ....and be able to project different things on to the wall to look at..... so, on the run up to Christmas, I started to look around for something that would do the trick.
When I looked at what was available for a standard sensory room I was disappointed to find the equipment all seemed to be so bulky and heavy and would definitely not fit in without some readjustment to her room. I also didn't like the price tag that much either.
The Aurora led projector alone cost 358.80 (pounds) incVAT and the bundle which has 5x6" discs cost 570 inc VAT. The main thing I didn't like (apart from its size) was that if you wanted to buy more of the discs, the cost ranged between 15.90 and 74.40...just for one disc!
The next type of projector I looked at was the Space Projector (by Mathmos) ....
It was a far more compact and better priced at 115 pounds inc VAT. However, the problem again, was that each different disc that you would potentially use cost anything between 15 and 20 pounds (inc vat) each..... which can quickly ratchet up the price if you don't want to get bored watching the same disc over and over again.
On the even lower priced end of the spectrum you then had very basic projectors that only projected one thing such as stars onto the wall or ceiling.
In the end, my son and daughter in law pointed me in the direction of this one below...
They had bought one for themselves quite a while ago and really loved it. It is extremely compact being only 854 x 854 x 480 (mm) deep and hence it is very portable and can be put almost anywhere. I bought one for Heni from Maplins for 219.99 pounds (I have seen them on line recently for up to 30 pounds less though) ...
Yes, it's more expensive than the space projector but I felt justified that it had the potential to be more varied in its usage. We decided to put it on our camera tripod, which attaches to the bottom of the unit and enables it to be angled in any direction.
Not only could we attach it to an iPad or iPhone or computer to play a "family photo montage" but we have also found some really cool YouTube videos like the mandala below. We aimed it on the wall at the side of Heni's bed and she loves to stare at the cool colours and moving patterns and just lie there and watch it. Some of the videos we have found have lasted over and hour...very meditative...if that doesn't send her to sleep nothing will!
Heni has also enjoyed watching Netflix videos...she especially loves the really colourful films like monsters university...
..... and Despicable me 2
The quality of the picture is really good ... although on the above two pics you can't really see its sharpness because I took the picture with the light on!
One concern I had about playing the videos for Heni on a night time was that it might be too stimulating and the light may put her circadian rhythm out even further. It's a well known fact that night-time exposure to blue light from screens and lights keeps people up late.
In 2012, the American Medical Association's Council on Science and Public Health said this:-
"...exposure to excessive light at night, including extended use of various electronic media, can disrupt sleep or exacerbate sleep disorders, especially in children and adolescents. "To counter this I found a piece of software to down load on all our devices called F.lux (https://justgetflux.com/) that eliminates the blue light and dims the screen according to the time of day you use it. The f.lux adjusts the colors in a way that greatly reduces the stimulating effects of this blue light at night...which means hopefully Heni's sleep will not be affected and she won't be up partying for hours!
We have even found that when we can't seem to locate The Hungry Boy and Daughter Number Two... we can often find them in the room with Heni.... watching along with her!
(However most of the time I try to keep the stimulation down by having the sound off with subtitles on...)
Ideally what I would like to see is the manufacturers of the Special needs projectors making their sensory Disks available in App form for the phone or iPad so that our kids can access the same beautiful moving patterns on other technology.... If anyone knows of any that's already out there PLEASE get in touch!
At least when I called Mathmos regarding their Space Projector and asked about the formation of an App with the same content as their discs, it was initially met with some degree of interest. Hopefully it will lead somewhere?
Or how about some creative parents out there having a go at some sensory videos and putting them up on YouTube and letting us all know about it?
For now Heni is enjoying her projector ... I took this picture of her just the other day... here she is focusing on her wall ...looking totally engaged in the movie. I believe Heni will get some good use out of her new Christmas present in the future...and every once in a while, we can also reap some of the benefits too, and watch a big screen movie in the living room with the rest of the family....that's after she has gone to sleep of course!
What equipment hacks or decisions have you made that work for you and your family/children? I would love to hear some of your ideas. Why not come post some ideas on Henibean's Facebook page?