Monday

Creating the Right Environment for an Environmentally Sensitive Child: A place to "crash"

Since being evaluated we've known that our son would need an environment that fit him better within our home--something specific to his needs. Trying to figure out how to accommodate him in a way that is truly effective that also fits the limits of our space and budget is no easy undertaking as I'm sure many of you know all too well. Essentially, we've been told that we need to create a space or room in which our son can literally "crash". One of his many needs as a child with Sensory Integration Disorder includes the necessity for specific types of sensory input. He also needs to be able to release some of the energy that builds as he is overstimulated.

We've discussed converting an entire room over for this purpose vs. creating a space within a room. As I own a small business and work out of our home, we are somewhat limited in regards to space because we already share our living space with my business. For now, I think we're going to provide him with several "crash" areas--one in his room and one in the living room. In the future we may create a separate room, but for now that is the plan.

When we first began looking into what types of equipment or furniture we could use to provide these areas for him we were left with many questions, but little direction. In a fantasy world I'd create an entire room with a springboard floor, 2 ft thick mats, foam pit, Spacial Swing (something I'm exploring), rock wall and all sorts of fun stuff. For now, we're trying to find things we can easily integrate into our existing home.

There were 2 major things we wanted to focus on first:
  1. Something he could bounce on
  2. Something he could cuddle into and crash onto

A Place to Jump
Addressing the first issue has been a bit difficult. A trampoline is an obvious choice for us as the jumping balls (the ones with a handle you sit on) require a great deal of space to move around on and can easily be used for other, less-safe purposes such as knocking things, pets or people over with it. We have been reviewing trampolines for months. The ones with the bars seem ideal at first glance as they would keep him steady, but knowing him, he could easily fool around and end up hurting himself on the bar.  We've also seen that many reviews say they tend to be tippy as the child leans on them.

The other issue seems to be size. We want a decent enough size that he can move a few inches without jumping right off, but since we want this to be indoor (we are considering a smaller outdoor size as well if we can't find a good solution) it needs to be a reasonable diameter. So far we've looked at, at least 20 or more models. So far we haven't purchased, but I think we may opt for one without a bar that is 3ft-4ft or so in diameter. This is something we would keep in our family room so that if he needed a break at any point he could easily access it.

Here are a few of the models we're still mulling over:
Option 1 indoor
Option 2 indoor/outdoor



For now we're still in the "researching and reviewing" stage. I'll update once we finally purchase.

A Place to Crash 
The second issue has proved more challenging. How does one create a place within your existing home where your child can "crash" without doing some major modifications?

Keep in mind, we're trying to conform to the needs of a 55lb, 7 year old that was just above the 50th percentile for height when last looked at. The major things we're looking for include:
  • Something large enough that he can jump with his entire body onto it without hitting the ground underneath
  • Comfortable for him to lounge on when he has down time
  • Fits into a space in our existing home
While throwing around ideas and googling just about everything we could think of, I suddenly remembered the amazing Supersac we'd enjoyed lounging in at a friend's house not too long ago. This wasn't the first Lovesac we'd come across. In fact, back in the day a larger mall near where my husband and I grew up had a Lovesac store and it was an incredibly popular place to pop into. Yet, I'd never seen the Supersac in person as the Lovesac store near us way back when had only had smaller models on the floor. That may have changed since it's been over a decade since I last visited the store by the way.

We immediately switched over to the Lovesac website and began browsing through all the different models. We narrowed it down to 3 different models that seemed large enough to allow our son to get his entire body on to them and potentially leap into them. One of our major concerns was whether or not these would be able to withstand the hard wear of a 55lb growing boy literally jumping into them over and over. While they have lifetime warranties, we were unsure of whether or not this would be considered excessive. And even if it wasn't, we weren't really interested in having to constantly replace or refresh whatever we chose to move forward with. It took a little while to get our questions answered, but I had a lengthy discussion with a fabulous Lovesac employee (contact information listed at the end of this post) that not only had experience with Lovesac models being used by children with special needs, but who was able to provide us with answers to all of our major questions. I was actually quite unaware that Lovesac products were used in this manner in schools and other facilities. How serendipitous! Here is some of the information we found most helpful...



The 3 models we originally considered were:

Pillowsac
Pillowsac - the only non-round one we considered. It sits 54" wide x 75" long This one is in a rocking frame.

Pillowsac in pod-like position


Pillowsac in duffel bag


Pros:
  • This can lay flat, be placed in a rocking frame or sit in a pod-like fashion
  • Though it's a decent size, it is also the most versatile and it is fairly compact depending on how it is used
  • Could potentially travel with you in the duffel bag if your little one is going to grandma and grandpa's for an extended period of time, you're going on vacation, etc.
  • Lifetime warranty - jump away!

Cons:
  • It is not as deep as the other 2 models we were considering
  • Using the rocker would not be an option with our son as he would quickly find unsafe ways to rock in it
View the Pillowsac on the Lovesac website HERE.

Our conclusion:
While this might be a great option for someone else, it didn't seem to really fit our needs for several reasons--mainly because we were looking for something a bit deeper and we would be unable to take advantage of some of its versatility (such as the rocker).


 Moviesac
Moviesac - made to comfortably fit 2 adults (touching). This is 5ft wide and 2ft deep.
 Pros:
  • The round shape makes it easier in our opinions to fit into an existing space
  • It is large enough and deep enough for our son to jump into it
  • It isn't so large that we can't fit it in his room comfortably
  • Lifetime warranty - jump away!
 Cons:
  • It might potentially be a little on the smaller side as he grows if he continues to need a place to jump into  
View the Moviesac on the Lovesac website HERE.

Our conclusion:
As of right now this is 1 of 2 models we're wavering between when the time comes to purchase. This is probably the one we will go with as I believe size-wise it may be the better fit in our home. We love that it will be deep enough for him to leap into without hitting the group and large enough that he can spread out into it to lounge or even sleep. I think he will really enjoy the way it "hugs" his body when he lays in it as well.


Supersac
Supersac - the largest of the 3 models we were initially considering. This is made to fit 2+ adults. It sits 6ft wide and 3ft deep.
  Pros:
  • Again, we feel the round shape makes even a Lovesac this size a bit easier to fit into a variety of spaces
  • The large size pretty much guarantees he will never outgrow it
  • I love that it's roughly 3ft deep--he can definitely jump into it!
  • Lifetime warranty - jump away!

Cons:
  • While the size is a pro it is also a con. This is one of the only factors that may push us to buy the Moviesac instead when the time comes. I'm not quite sure we could easily fit this in his room. 
  • $125 more than the Moviesac. While this may not be a huge con to some, it may be to others.
View the Supersac on  the Lovesac website HERE
Our conclusion:
We are still a bit torn. On the one hand this will always be something that will fit him, while on the other hand it may be too large right now.  It's a hard choice since we know this is a long-term investment and something he will literally have forever.

Final Thoughts 
While we're still debating on the trampoline model that best fits us, we're pretty confident that a Lovesac is something we will have to invest in, in the future. Purchasing a Lovesac should give us the safe surface we've been looking for into which he can crash, lounge, leap and relax. We're still debating the Moviesac vs. Supersac, but I think the Moviesac may be the one we end up with--though the size of the Supersac is definitely appealing long-term. With our younger son beginning the evaluation process this month we'll likely have to wait a bit to purchase this for our older son, but hopefully we'll be able to this year--you know how expensive it can be to pay for certain things out of pocket since insurance is so incredibly bias against anything "developmental" with children.

I would highly recommend researching whether or not one of these may be a good fit for your child if your needs and concerns are similar to ours. While the price tag may be a bit high for some, as we have found few choices and none with a lifetime warranty as of yet aside from these, it may be worth it as a very long-term investment.

As we have yet to purchase any of these models I cannot speak from personal experience in relation to how it will work for our son--I can only relay information I have uncovered during our research. Should we purchase in the future I will be sure to do a review on how compatible our son and the Lovesac of our choice ends up being for his needs. If you have any questions in the meantime I would recommend speaking with the lovely woman we've been in contact with


Her contact information is as follows:

Jenny Kascsak
Corporate Sales
Jenny@lovesac.com
(M)203-836-6373
www.lovesac.com


Here is a picture of Jenny with one of her special customers, Jon, in a Supersac. Jon was diagnosed on the autism spectrum and as you can see, seems to like both the Supersac and Jenny quite a bit! Jenny relayed a little snippet of his story to me and I found it absolutely fabulous that Lovesac seems to fill a need they may not have initially set out to fill, but that is certainly an important one in my eyes! 

Lovesac for special needs children ... who knew?


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