Easy DIY Switch Adapted Bubble Machine

One of the top 5 questions I get asked most is how I take store bought toys and games and adapt them to be switch accessible. One of Ellie’s favorite switch adapted toys is her bubble machine and it is a great beginners adaptation because it’s so cheap and easy! You can purchase adapted bubble machines from various companies, but they are very overpriced ($60-$80). In this tutorial I teach you how to make your own DIY switch adapted bubble machine for under $25 (switch not included in cost).


Required Items:

  • Bubble Machine

  • Batteries

  • Battery Interrupter

  • Switch

Bubble Machine: You can use any battery operated bubble machine that has an on/off switch. This is the one I recommend.

Battery Interrupter: Most small bubble machines use AA or AAA batteries. You will need one battery interrupter 1/8" Jack for one bubble machine. Here are one, two, and three places you can purchase.

Switch: When it comes to switches, there is no one size fits all. Consult your child’s Occupational Therapist or Assistive Tech Specialist to see what switch suits your child’s needs. These are some switches that are popular: Big Red, Joystick, Pillow, Tactile, Head Switch.


Step 1: Gather bubble machine, battery interrupter, and batteries.

IMG_5032.jpg

Step 2: Put in all but one battery.

IMG_5033.jpg

Step 3: Place batter interrupter onto spring where the negative (-) end of the battery would go. It does not matter which side of the battery interrupter is facing upwards.

IMG_5034.jpg

Step 4: Put negative (-) end of battery in and click into place. The battery interrupter will be between the spring and negative (-) end of battery.

IMG_5035.jpg
IMG_5036.jpg

Step 5: Plug switch into 1/8" jack battery interrupter. Turn the bubble machine on. When you push and hold down on the switch the machine should turn on start blowing bubbles! Release switch to stop the bubble machine. Have fun!

IMG_5037.jpg

IMG_6327.jpg
IMG_4144.jpg

2018 Grants and Resources for Families with Special Needs

DISCLAIMER: each organization, grant, or program has their own criteria
for referring a child and geographical area they serve

Screen Shot 2018-07-17 at 10.07.48 AM.png

Equipment & Medical Assistance & Lending Closets

My Gym Challenged America: provide equipment and services that enhance the quality of life and improve the physical, cognitive, emotional and social development of children who are physically or developmentally challenged and those coping with chronic illness.

McLindon Family Foundation: provides adaptive bicycles for children with special needs.

Eden's Hope: assists families of children with neuroblastoma.

Molly Bear Foundation: grants for families of children with Trisomy 18

Alex's Lemonade Stand: provides travel grants to medical institutions for families battling childhood cancer.

Giving Angels Foundation: award grants to low-income families to enhance the everyday life of their special needs child aged 21 or younger throughout the United States.

Friends of Man: assists with medical and mobility equipment and prosthesis.

The Gwendolyn Strong Foundation: provides iPads for children with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)

Angel Flight: free medical and compassion flights.

The Ray Tye Medical Aid Foundation: funds life saving medical care and surgeries for those without insurance

The M.O.R.G.A.N. Project: provides the tools for a therapeutic and fun experience to children with physical and developmental needs

Building Blocks for Kids: provides grants for health related needs

Wheelchairs 4 Kids: provides assistive devices and medical equipment to families in need.

Fred's Footsteps: provides financial assistance to families during a child’s illness (Philly, PA)

Believe in Tomorrow Children's Foundation: provides medical and respite housing to critically ill children and their families.

Bryan's Dream Foundation: assist families of children with brain tumors.

The Arya Foundation: provides financial aid for the purchase of medical supplies and equipment for children with the medical condition.

Stepping Stones for Stella: provide Buggies to children with disabilities to ensure they and their families experience the joy and freedom of the great outdoors to its fullest.

Danny Did Foundation: provides seizure/epilepsy devices to children in need.

First Hand Foundation: provide funding for individual children with health-related needs when insurance and other financial resources have been exhausted.

Chelsea Hutchison Foundation: provides seizure monitoring and seizure assistance dogs.

Alyssa V Phillips Foundation: supports individuals with cerebral palsy.

Aubrey Rose Foundation: assists families with medical expenses.

Ambucs: adapted bikes for children with special needs.

Small Steps in Speech: grant funds for speech and language disorder therapies.

Variety US: provides equipment and services for mobility, independence, and social inclusion.

Wheel to Walk Foundation: assists with equipment not provided by insurance.

Go Shout Love: features a family battling a rare illness and raises funds for them.

Project Mend: refurbishes mobility devices.

Miracle Ear Foundation: provides free hearing aids to individuals in need

Maggie Welby Foundation: provides grants to families in need

Grottoes Humanitarian Foundation: provides dental care for children with special needs

Challenged Athletes Foundation: provides grants for paralympic sports related needs

Different Needz Foundation: provides grants for medical equipment and/or services

The Kids Equipment Network: connecting children with special needs to the durable, adaptive equipment that helps them thrive in Chicagoland and Midwest. 

Hands to Angels: helps families of children with rare genetic disorders

Hannah and Friends: provides quality of life grants for individuals with developmental disabilities in Indiana, the Michigan area, New York, Rhode Island, and Florida

The HIKE Fund: provides hearing devices for children in need

Kya's Krusade: grants for therapies

Mark's Money: grants for individuals with Down Syndrome residing in Tennessee or Indiana

Miracles in Progress: hippotherapy scholarships and small grants for families in western Chicago suburbs

Bianca's Kids: provides needed wishes for families

Riddick's Ride: equipment lending closet located in north eastern Illinois

Katy's Kloset: equipment lending closet located in south eastern Wisconsin

Kindred Kids: equipment lending closet located in southern Wisconsin


Wish Granting, Trips, or Experiences

Do It For The Love: a wish-granting nonprofit organization that brings people living with life-threatening illnesses, children with severe challenges and wounded veterans to live concerts. Through the healing power of music, our goal is to inspire joy, hope and lasting celebratory memories in the face of severe illness or trauma. 

Project Angel Fares: providing families outside of San Antonio who cannot afford to travel, the opportunity to visit San Antonio, Morgan's Wonderland & Inspiration Island with a 4 day, 3 night trip of a lifetime with paid travel expenses.

Make A Wish: grant the wish of children diagnosed with a critical illness.

Dream Factory: grant dreams to critically and chronically ill children from the ages of three through eighteen.

Sunshine Foundation: answer the dreams of chronically ill, seriously ill, physically challenged and abused children ages three to eighteen, whose families cannot fulfill their requests due to financial strain that the child’s illness may cause

Kids Wish Network: infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children with life-threatening conditions and those struggling with life-altering situations.

Hope Kids: provides ongoing events, activities and a powerful, unique support community for families who have a child with cancer or some other life-­threatening medical condition.

Jason's Dreams for Kids: grants wishes for children in the New Jersey area.

Marty Lyons Foundation: fulfill the special wishes of children in Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia

Angel Wish: support the most vulnerable of children living with chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS, among many others in an impactful way.

A Special Wish: granting the wishes of children under the age of 21 and diagnosed as having a life-threatening disorder.

Take A Breather Foundation: to fulfill wishes for children who have been touched by Cystic Fibrosis.


Free Services and Gifts

Santa's Little Hackers: sends children with special needs an adaptive toy at Christmas

Seedling's Braille Books: free braille books/articles for students in grades 1-12

Sweet Dreams for Kids: provides a free pair of pajamas for children who are in hospitals

Shadow Buddies: sends a doll buddy to your child for emotional support in time of need

Special Kids Photography of America: provides grants for family pictures

Hugginz by Angel: provides blankets and pillows to comfort children dealing with serious illness, tragedy, or medical condition

Tubie Friends: provides bears with Gtubes, GJ, central lines, ports, etc

Peachs Neet Feet: creates custom decorated shoes for children with a qualifying medical condition

Grains of Love: provides love packages for individuals in need of comfort

Wishers and Dreamers: free hospital gowns for your child’s doll/bear

Sweet Dreams Foundation: improve the quality of life for children who have been diagnosed with a life threatening disease through the creation of their Dream bedroom.

Gracie's Gowns: provides custom hospital gowns to children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses.

The Butterfly Fund: clothing, services and care for children with Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB)

Ben's Blankets: free weighted blankets for children with sensory needs

Feel Better Friends: sends children with cancer and other illnesses a crochet doll

Icing Smiles:

works with bakers provide free birthday cake to a child or a sibling

impacted by a serious illness

Project Fairy Dust and Magic Wands: provides a handmade tiaras for princesses in distress

Tiny Superheroes: sends a cape to your little superhero

Knitting Rays of Hope: knits hats for cancer patients, babies in NICU and other special deliveries

Ween Dream: collects and delivers Halloween costumes for children with medical conditions

Butterflies for Courageous Kids: sends a butterfly of encouragement for children battling cancer or other medical conditions

Sharing the Weight: provides free weighted blankets to children who could benefit from one

Special Spaces: creates dream bedrooms for children with critical illnesses

Room to Dream: bedrooms designed for children in need

Graham's Foundation: sends a care package to families with premature babies

 

**if you know of an organization, grant program, or resource, please email me at kuntzr@gmail.com
so I can add it to the list**

 

 

 

 

Emergency Preparedness for Your Child with Special Needs

Emergency prep is a hard topic to discuss because it involves thinking about worst-case-scenerios and having to make plans for each possible outcome. After taking the time and energy to create the plans, I have a peace of mind that should a situation arise, Ellie will be taken care of.

Meet our van, aka Ellie's Party Bus aka Ellie's Swagger Wagon.
It drives like a boat and is always filled with equipment, medical supplies,
water bottles, and a stash of chocolate for mom after tough appointments.

IMG_8072.jpg

Everywhere we go I am asked questions about the hot pink sticker on the side.

(click photo to be taken to the Esty shop where I purchased this sticker)

(click photo to be taken to the Esty shop where I purchased this sticker)

The sticker is from this Etsy shop and I customized it to suit our needs. If we were ever in an accident and first responders came to the scene, they would immediately notice the hot pink sticker which would alert them that there is a child in the vehicle, specifically a child with special/medical needs, who could be injured and require attention.

When you open the sliding door, you see a hot pink seatbelt cover. I purposefully color coordinated the sticker and seatbelt cover so it would draw the attention of any person who opened the door.

(click photo to be taken to the Esty shop where I purchased this seatbelt cover)

(click photo to be taken to the Esty shop where I purchased this seatbelt cover)

The seatbelt cover contains vital information that a paramedic would need to know immediately upon meeting Ellie.

Cerebral Palsy: If a paramedic saw Ellie not moving in the same way a typical child does, they might assume she has an injury, when in actuality she has spastic quad CP.

Epilepsy: If Ellie were to be having a seizure, a paramedic would need to know that she has a seizure disorder, and the seizure may not be the result of illness or injury.

Nonverbal: If a paramedic is asking Ellie questions, they would need to know that she is nonverbal and might not respond or react to their questioning.

Birth Date: All medications, especially emergency ones, are based on weight (and sometimes age), so a paramedic would need to know how old Ellie is to administer anything.

IMG_8075.jpg

Infront of the seat where Ellie sits is a Medical Binder with more information about her. I chose a bright colored binder to make it most visible. I placed the binder partially sticking out so it would be easily noticeable.

IMG_8076.jpg
IMG_8098.jpg

This Medical Binder is by far the most important part of our Emergency Prep Plan. Should we be in an accident and I (Rebecca, Ellie's mom) am unconscious or unable to respond, Ellie and I would be taken to a nearest hospital. There is a lot of information about Ellie that is vital for Emergency Room doctor and staff to know. The Medical Binder includes basic information, emergency contact, vaccinations, surgeries, specialists, family history, and more. I also included instructions and contact information for who I deem as guardian and medical custodian should I not be able to make those decisions for Ellie. Ellie's binder includes her MRI report, latest EEG report, latest bloodwork results. What you add to your Medical Binder can be tailored for your child's needs.

IMG_8101.jpg

The Medical Binder is also extremely important if someone else besides me were driving Ellie or taking care of her. Ex: a family member, friend, babysitter, etc. If they had to take Ellie to an ER that isn't her home hospital, they could grab the binder and hand it to the ER doctor to look over.

To download the fillable WORD DOC of the Medical Binder template I created,
click the book icon and click "download a copy" from the dropdown menu.

$10 DIY Activity Frame

Small activity frames can cost anywhere from $50 to $150 retail, but here is a much cheaper, quick & simple DIY solution! This PVC activity frame is so adaptable that it can be modified to fit any child's needs and preferences. The purpose of the activity frame will vary per child, but it can be used for fine motor reaching and grabbing, sensory play, depth of field visual stimulation, auditory cause and effect. It is very versitile!

IMG_4309.jpg

Supplies Needed

  • (2) 2 foot 3/4 inch PVC
  • (2) 3/4 inch 90 degree PVC elbow fitting
  • (2) 3/4 inch PVC tee socket
  • twine, rope, or chord
  • optional: drill & 1 inch spade bit, small can Purple PVC Primer, small can Regular Clear PVC Cement

**All supplies I used were bought from Home Depot, but can be found at any home improvement store. Total cost for required supplies did not exceed $10 **

Ellie wanted to come along to buy the supplies for her Activity Frame!

Ellie wanted to come along to buy the supplies for her Activity Frame!

Step One:

Take your two pieces of 2 foot (24inch) PVC pipe and cut them in half, leaving you with four 12inch PVC pipe pieces.

IMG_4296.jpg

Step Two:

Take one of the 12inch PVC pipe pieces and cut it into four pieces, each piece measuring 3 inches long. You now will be left with three 12inch pieces, and four 3inch pieces.

IMG_4302.jpg

Step Three:

Take one of your tee sockets and use the purple primer and clear PVC cement to glue two of your 3inch pieces onto each end. Do the same with your second tee socket. If you don't want to use purple primer and clear PVC cement, you can push and twist the 3inch pieces into the tee socket to secure them.

Step Four:

Attach the 12inch pieces to both ends of the elbow sockets, then attach to the tee sockets.

IMG_4304.jpg

Step Five:

Now is the fun and creative part! What motivates your child? Is it loud sound, soft touch, bright colors, a favorite character? Find objects or toys that your child likes, and hang them from the PVC frame. My favorite place to find Activity Frame objects is the dollar store, or dollar spot at Target! You can hang them with rope or twine as shown below, or alternatively drill holes in the PVC pipe to thread them through to be more secured into place. The beauty of this Activity Frame is that the objects can be switched out at any time as your child grows and/or changes interests.

IMG_4309.jpg

Step Six:

Have some fun!!! You can use the Activity Frame on the tray of a stander, on a table, on a wheelchair tray, in the car, at school, the possibilies are endless!

Kenya-Philippines-Thailand

While waiting for Ellie's US immigration to be approved, we had the amazing opportunity to travel a bit! Ellie and I spent a few days in Kenya applying and obtaining a Thailand tourist visa for her. After that, my dad flew from Chicago and met us in the Philippines for two weeks so we could see family-friends and explore the beautiful beaches. My dad flew back to the US and Ellie and I hopped on over to Thailand to spend three weeks with my favorite ministry and Ellie's favorite aunties!

IMG_3638.JPG
IMG_3680.JPG
IMG_3671.JPG
IMG_3829.JPG
IMG_3866.JPG
IMG_4054.JPG
IMG_4825.JPG

Goodbye 2016

2016 //

a really crappy year sprinkled with joy moments that i am not the least bit sad to say goodbye to //

new amazing milestones for ellie, a third birthday, two year family day, endless pool trips, american medical visa denial, then a loootttttt of waiting for adoption //

2017 i'm expecting you to be better than the last! //

Year by Year

August 26, 2014             August 24, 2015             August 26, 2016

First Day Home                   One Year Home                  Two Years Home

Olive & Annie Partnership

So excited to announce that Ellie Grace has been chosen as a Brand Rep for Olive & Annie!! 

Olive & Annie provides handcrafted children’s apparel and accessories for mamas and babes. Their products are ethically produced with love in Kenya and are shipped around the world to wherever your home may be. Each purchase provides mentorship programs, sexual health education, support and healing, and empowerment programs to youth in urban settlements across East Africa in an effort to minimize sexual violence. 

The foundations for Olive & Annie began with two beautiful little girls, Olive and Annie, who live at Zawadi la Tumaini Children’s Home in Nairobi, Kenya. The girls come from the Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Both come from single mother families. Unfortunately, both girl’s mothers became pregnant when they were very young which led to addiction and eventually a life living on the streets. With proper teaching of sexual education, mentorship, and empowerment perhaps these young women would have been led down different paths.

Ellie Grace loves fashion and girly things, so she was thrilled when Olive & Annie sent over a pair of their brand new PENDA BLUSH moccasins from the Winter Collection. The moccasins are high quality, sturdy, and of course absolutely adorable. Not only are they ethically produced, they are giving back to an important cause. Purchase for purpose. Your money is your vote. By purchasing from Olive & Annie you are not only receiving quality shoes, but you are helping provide education and support to urban youth & women in East Africa. SHOP HERE. 

In the coming years Ellie & I will be further partnering with Olive & Annie to create a line of moccasins specifically for AFOs (ankle foot orthosis) so that your kiddo with special needs can be wearing the cutest & coolest moccasins around! 

**In the photos below Ellie is wearing the 2-3 year sized moccasins with her AFOs. She normally wears a US sized 7 wide shoe. Although these moccasins are not made to fit AFOs, they may work with children who have smaller feet. If you are interested in exact dimensions of the shoe, please contact Olive & Annie through their website. **

Ellie 3.5 Years Old

Ellie is three and a half years old as of October 29th! The past six months since her birthday have flown by. She seems to be crushing milestones left and right these days, so I wanted to put all the videos of her in one place. She is so strong, so determined, so brave, so ABLE! 

Walking--Ellie has been walking with support for over a year, but she's recently picked up speed and has decided she wants to run as fast as she can. Once her Clubfoot is fixed, her gait and scissoring will improve so much. I have no idea how I will be able to keep up with her. 

Standing-- Recently her trunk has become so much stronger so now she can stand (with her AFOs on) and play with a toy (her favorite is the maraca). Her left arm has slightly lower tone so she is able to extend is much easier and manipulate an object. Making noise is her absolute favorite. The louder the better!

Kicking--She seems to now understand the concept that she can kick a ball, and someone will kick it back. Ellie has amazing social skills and will play with anyone, but she especially loves kids a bit older than her who know when to be gentle and when they can be rough.

Sitting--I am probably most excited about this new skill (and Ellie is too). For a child with cerebral palsy, high tone, and low trunk control, sitting without support is a MAJOR milestone. Ellie can now sit without support for up to 30 min. She has to concentrate and focus intently while doing it, so I would not consider it functional sitting yet, but we are well on our way. 

Crawling--Army crawling is one of Ellie's favorite things to do. If you put her down on the mat she can fly across it towards the toy she wants. She can push up to get her chest off the mat, but isn't stable enough to get to an "on all fours" position. If you walk away for a second she's across the room off the mat. 

Rolling-- The video isn't a good representation of the skill, but Ellie can go from a push up position while lying on the mat, roll to one side, then push to roll all the way onto her back. She's still working on rolling back to her stomach, but she almost has the hang of getting back onto her stomach. 

I'm so proud of Ellie. I can't say it enough. In the two years she's been with me she's gone from a lifeless, scared, uninteractive, tiny baby to a joyful, communicative, active, toddler who LOVES life and LIVES it to the fullest. 

Ellie's Two Year Family Day

Two years ago I was preparing to welcome Ellie Grace home…..

And FINALLY she was in my arms FOREVER….

August 26, 2014

August 26, 2014

August 26, 2015

August 26, 2015

And now…August 26, 2016!

I still have over $11,000 to raise to completely fund Ellie's adoption. If you would like to donate, click here. Thank you!!

For over 600 days we have shared a home….

…..and soon we will share a LAST NAME!

The secret can finally be announced.

I have been approved to adopt Ellie in Ghana!! 

How we reached this point is nothing short of a miracle. I can't share all the details until her adoption is finalized, but here's how some of it went down. 

In mid April, just before Ellie's third birthday, we went to the American Embassy in Accra, Ghana to interview for a non-immigrant one year medical visa. We were denied the visa. I was heartbroken. Every approval and document needed for the medical visa had come through. From the American hospitals accepting Ellie as a pro bono charity case, to biological family releases, to Ghanaian social services approvals. All signs were pointing to the visa being granted as I had worked insanely hard to pull everything together just in time for our interview. But ultimately we were denied and I walked out of the Embassy with absolutely no plan and distraught at the thought of having no idea when we would be able to travel to America. 

So I went home, cried a lot, cuddled Ellie, and waited. And waited. I was not going to move in any specific direction until God opened the doors. I had a choice whether I wanted to try and appeal the denial, or go down a different path. I got a call about a week later from a trusted Ghanaian friend who suggested I go back to the Department of Social Welfare and tell them about the denial and see what they say. So I walked my tired body and weary heart back into their office for a meeting. I was not hopeful that they would have any suggestions for me because I know that I do not qualify to adopt Ellie for 3 reasons.
1. Ghanaian adoption law clearly states that you must be 25 years old to adopt (I am 23).
2. You must also be married (I am not married).
3. You must also be 21 years older than the child you wish to adopt (I am 20 years 3 months older than Ellie).
I am currently none of those things. I do not meet the requirements. 

But you know what happened when I walked into that meeting?
They listened to my words and heard my heart. And they responded with:
"In Ellie's best interest, I think you should be allowed to adopt her"
"She's been with you almost two years. You are bonded. To not allow you to adopt her would be traumatizing for her"
"If you don't adopt her, who will? She can not be resettled to her biological family and a Ghanaian family would not adopt her due to her special needs"
"We want you to be able to go to America for her medical treatment and therapies, adoption now is the only way you can get a visa" 

That office called another office and informed them on their decision to allow me to adopt Ellie. I met with the next office who also approved me to adopt Ellie. Up the chain of command I went.
Approved.
Approved.
I hired my lawyer, I filled out adoption paperwork, I got medical exams and police background checks. I signed a bunch of papers. Ellie's biological family signed a bunch of papers. Notarized and sealed. And making 10 copies of every single thing. 

Throughout the last month I have seen God show up. And move. And change people's hearts right before my eyes. I thought I might be able to adopt Ellie once I turned 25 which is two years away. That has been pushed up to NOW! The redemption I've seen can't be put into words. The reason the medical visa was denied has been made so clear…that closed door made way for one to be opened. If the medical visa had not been denied, I would not have approval to be adopting Ellie right now. 

Adoption has always been the end goal. I have always known Ellie is my daughter. But I never knew if she would legally be my daughter on paper. But Lord willing, soon it will be made official. Ellie will become a Kuntz.

We will be a family by love AND by law.

And soon a judge in a tiny court room in Ghana will say the words I've been waiting almost two years to hear,

"She is yours. Forever. As if she was born to you."


What is left to complete before her adoption takes place?
I have submitted all my papers to the appropriate office, now we wait for one letter from a top government person to be issued which says that she is considering our adoption a "special case" and is requesting that the judge allow me to adopt Ellie. Once we receive that letter we schedule for a court date. 


When the adoption is complete in Ghana can you come to America?
Due to the American immigration process I'm going through and how the timing of that works out, Ellie will be granted an American immigration visa  in early 2017 so we can permanently move to Chicago. 


Will you stay in Ghana while the American immigration process is going on?
Once the adoption is complete and Ellie has a new Ghanaian birth certificate and Ghanaian passport we legally don't have to stay in Ghana. I am praying about where we could move to for 6-9 months until our American immigration visa is approved. 


When you arrive in America in early 2017 will the hospitals still accept Ellie and treat her?
YES!


How much will her adoption cost?

$20,000 USD!


Ghana lawyer fee + court fee + document notarization + transportation = $5,000 USD
American lawyer fee + USCIS immigration filing + shipping costs = $5,000 USD
Monthly rent + food + transport + internet + misc for 10 months (now thru Feb 2017) = $10,000
[if you want a more specific breakdown of expenses and receipts please contact me]


How can we donate and support Ellie's adoption?
Donate directly on our YouCaring page. 


Welcome!

Hi friend!

Thank you so much for visiting our website! If you are a new viewer please click on the tab above called "Our Story" to learn more about the journey that Ellie and I have been on over the last two years. I will be posting updates on this space about our adoption, milestones, and fun memories, so check back soon! 

PS. Follow our daily adventures on Instagram!