CHAT Bag {GIVEAWAY}

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I recently had the opportunity to test our new iPad for speech purposes- Eli has been working so hard to communicate, so we began to explore PECS and electronic communication devices to relieve his frustration as he learns. The iPad was our first choice, and we quickly got Proloquo 2 to help Eli tell us what he needs. It’s a slow process, but we are thrilled at his progress and at the promise of his being understood. 
The CHAT Bag was recommended to us shortly after that as an easy way to carry his iPad with him to school and out in the world. It had not even occurred to me that he would need help taking his iPad with him when he was away from me! What a brilliant idea! 

So what is a CHAT Bag?

Simply put, it is a durable bag that makes holding, transporting and accessing the iPad so much easier (and more fashionable!) for children and adults who use the iPad for their daily life and communication. 

Lori created the CHAT Bag for her daughter, and I’m so glad she did! Our children need to be able to communicate wherever they are- CHAT Bag makes that possible.  (Learn more about Lori and her daughter Hannah here: http://www.chatbag.net/pages/AboutUs.php)
45631256Initially I was concerned about Eli’s ability to carry such a large and heavy device. His gait isn’t the most balanced and he can be a little clumsy. I was pleased when I saw that he was able to carry his iPad with no problems. The CHAT Bag has several carrying options- handles, so he can carry it one handed, or a strap that allows him to carry his device over his shoulder or cross-body (or talk to Lori, I know she will help your child maintain independence any way she can!). Eli is only 31lbs, but he was able to independently carry his device using the CHAT Bag cross body. This is huge! 

Another thing I loved was peace of mind. He can be responsible for his own things, and it also makes me feel good about the safety of his device while he is at school- I know it will always be with him and easy to find.

During the ordering and design process, Lori (the creator and designer of CHAT Bags) was amazing and attentive. She made sure that the protective case that we already had for our iPad would work for her CHAT Bag design. (Our iPad remains safe in its protective case while also snugly inside the CHAT Bag itself). 

CHAT Bag is light and small- when it came in its tiny package, I was so surprised! But it stretched to perfectly fit our device and it’s case. The CHAT Bag can be custom-made to fit your needs- Lori is able to add custom features like openings for USB cords and camera, extra handles and carrying options. We got to chose from various adorable fabrics and even had the option to have Eli’s name added to the back panel. The bag is of the highest quality. It stretches to fit perfectly over his device and is quite durable.
It’s also easy to clean and has stood up to several weeks of use with three toddlers already (we share a lot in this house!). 

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We have greatly enjoyed the ease of access this allows Eli and the ability to take his voice anywhere we go. The best part? Lori has graciously offered to sponsor a CHAT Bags giveaway*! Awesome, right? The giveaway ends 9/12/15 at midnight! You can enter to win one for your kiddo today! Simply comment on this post (via the comments section on WordPress, on Facebook or Instagram) with your email address and why your child would benefit from a CHAT Bag! You can gain extra entries by tagging your friends! 
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Good luck my friends! And happy chatting! 

Check out Lori’s amazing products here: http://www.chatbag.net
FAQ: http://www.chatbag.net/faqs.php

*Giveway: $35 value (iPad 1-4 & iPad Air 1/2) or $30 value (iPad Mini) CHAT Bag- upgrades additional

Therapy: Where We Are At Now

(Random, not part of this post update: Barry has been offered a job! He is stay at home dad no longer! Thank you to everyone who prayer with us through this time 🙂 10 months is a long time to wait for a position but we believe this is the perfect one!)

Ok, so I figured I would do a therapy update for those of you who are following along. 🙂 We just had a visit at the DS Clinic in Houston, which always makes me freak out because you have all these therapists that come in and evaluate Eli’s progress…I hate being evaluated. lol They are so wonderful there, but they won’t really count what I say Eli is doing, they are more interested in what they see. We were lucky to have a former OT who’s worked with Eli working at the clinic. So she knew what Eli had been doing (Hi T!!!)
Anyway, because no 2 year old will perform on command, Eli’s developmentally not showing where I think he actually is. I’m ok with this because we know how awesome he is and what he is doing already 🙂
We are so blessed to have an amazing team for Eli. They push and challenge him (and us!) in some amazing ways. 🙂 We love them!
Eli is 22 months old and this is what we are doing right now:

Standing Practice: We are working on building Eli’s strength to stand. He stands with his back against the wall, while Barry reads to him, he stands to watch his iPad which is proped up on the couch, he stands to reach for snacks or drinks, he stands to grab the desired toy off the table…etc. Just to build strength and encourage standing. It’s been a great way to encourage him plus he gets a work out. In PT we have been working on going from sitting to standing. He can do it, but he’s stubborn like usual. He will sit on Barry’s knee, and then have to push to stand to reach something. Out of complete frustration he will suddenly push up and stand just because he is angry. lol He’s done it several times without assistance but it’s hard for his little legs (I blame his father, who is the genetic carrier of “chicken leg”).
We also added his AFO’s. He’s been primarily using his SMO’s for stability, but now that he is trying to stand in the middle of the room, he is ready to use them. But…He HATES them. Like cries and cries when they are on hates them. He will get used to having them on and already, it has improved his walking and he’s getting more brave about standing independently. So proud of him! He’s getting so so close!! We are excited for him!

OT: In OT we have been doing a lot with fine motor. Picking things up, working in his mouth, touching new textures, matching shapes, following directions. I don’t have a video on this but he’s doing really well here!

SLP: You guys saw his last video spam, which included all the signs he is working with right now. This has been huge! He’s exploded with signs and we couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s so much easier to communicate with him and he is so proud of himself. We literally went from only signing one sign (ball), to over 35 signs! It feels like he added a new one every day for a while. We are also doing a lot of reading and mouth work. When we read, we hold the book close to our mouth so he can see the words we are saying. We also point at all the words as we read, or make sounds as they are appropriate. It’s been fun!
We let Eli watch Baby Signing Time once a day and he loves it. It’s one of his favorite things to do and the only show he will sit still to watch. He has started to sign with Rachel and even has favorite songs. 🙂
Signing has been huge for us, but we are doing other things too.
I just started PECs. I have a few things in the house that I need to put labels on, and I just printed all the kinder sight words on note cards.
We’ve introduced flash cards too. We got some at Christmas that are touch and feel with the word so Eli loves them.
We have really enjoyed ABC flashcards on our iPad too. Eli anticipates certain letters and gets excited when he sees his favorite symbols (like bird for b). Hehe it’s so cute.
We are doing mouth work too, which has helped greatly with brushing his teeth.

Now if all of this could translate to verbal talking! One thing at a time…I know it will come 🙂

Behavior: Eli’s understanding of language and directions is very strong. His desire to listen, not so much. I guess this is the “terrible two’s”, huh? He has started hitting with purpose when he is mad. He will look me right in the face, I mean straight in my eyes and hit me! When I tell him we don’t hit, or to use gentle hands his typical response is to laugh or hit me again.
I’m not sure if he understand time out yet…so we haven’t really enforced that. Plus I don’t really have a place to put him that won’t be automatically associated with being bad all the time, even though it’s not supposed to be a bad place lol
I’ve tried a tap on the hand and he doesn’t seem to get that either.
He even hits himself.
We’ve been working on “gentle hands” since before Ruby was born, but he’s decided he would rather slap Ruby on the forehead than listen to “gentle hands”…
We ignore the behavior when he hits himself or throws a tantrum. Often we just walk away and he will fix the behavior.
But the hitting with purpose doesn’t stop unless we redirect or remove him from the situation. Any suggestions on this one? I just asked on my FB but I thought I would ask here too lol
Otherwise, he’s a sweet, loving boy, just trying to express himself. It’s rough being two. 😉

Potty Training: No, we haven’t started yet. We aren’t crazy! He isn’t walking…so it doesn’t seem like there is a point right now. But we have discussed introducing it to him. I think we will get him the Baby Signing Time: Potty Time video set. He’s on his way, though. He wakes from most naps and in the morning pretty dry. He’s fussy when he fills his diaper up too, so these are all good signs. I will be totally honest, though, this part really scares me. lol I think if I were a SAHM it wouldn’t feel so overwhelming, but I just don’t have the time to dedicate to him with this right now. Thank goodness he isn’t ready. lol
Once he begins walking, we will look into our options. I’ve already seen the potty ramp, and we have 3 potty chairs or seat covers haha. Any one else have some good tips?
It’s so tempting to push it because the thought of 3 in diapers is enough to drive anyone over the edge, but I know he’s just not quite ready.
We need to add “potty” to his signs. lol

So I think that is the therapy update right now! Thanks to our awesome team and my amazing husband for working so hard with Eli! It shows! 🙂 What are you working on with your kids?

Down Syndrome Book Give Away

Last week I posted on my FB and in a DS forum I am part of looking to two used books: Fine Motor Skills and Early Communication Skills for Children with DS.
Fine Motor Skills for Children With Down Syndrome
Early Communication Skills for Children with Down Syndrome
In response to my post, an *amazing* friend of ours immediately ordered a copy of these books and had them mailed to our house. Isn’t that incredible?
And then after my post, another friend offered up the same books for a giveaway on my blog!! So if you have always been interested in these books but never picked them up, here’s your chance!

Contest Info:
ENDS 8/3/13 AT MIDNIGHT
Winner will be selected using Random.org. Please leave your name and email address in a comment below so I can contact you directly! EARN AN EXTRA ENTRY BY SUBSCRIBING TO MY BLOG!
Good luck!

CONGRATS TO MELANIE! 🙂

I want to say a HUGE thank you to my amazing and generous friends! I love you guys so much! The way you love Eli and advocate for him, even in small gestures like this, makes my heart so happy. What am incredible way to bless our family and another. Thank you thank you thank you!