Being Matthew’s mum at an exhibition

I went to the Naidex exhibition at Birmingham NEC this week, and I thought I’d review it so that you can decide if it’s useful to go to the next [...]

I went to the Naidex exhibition at Birmingham NEC this week, and I thought I’d review it so that you can decide if it’s useful to go to the next one – it was on over two days, but we felt that two hours was enough to see everything.

Access issues! Walking around the various stands, I overheard lots of conversations about restricted access to shops, some people unable to use public transport, or can’t access toilet facilities. It seems that everything most non-disabled people take for granted is a logistical challenge for a lot of disabled people. Seeing so many wheelchair users or people with mobility issues in one place is a stark reminder that society needs to be more accessible.

One company had a very flashy stand with lights and a big step! This company sold smart devices for people with limited mobility to control their home from a tablet or phone, and wheelchair users had to talk to the exhibitors on the floor away from the stand. They couldn’t get to see items on display! Madness.

Not for us right now, but maybe in the future. With one hall for technology, and making your home ‘smart’, and another for wheelchairs and adaptable vehicles there was not much for children as it was mainly focused on adult clothing and equipment – nothing that would have been useful for Matthew right now. But it was interesting to see what’s available to help make life easier and give people with disabilities more independence. Of course, you’d have to be filthy rich to get all these things!

I saw a state-of-the-art adult size wheelchair which allowed the user to sit or stand upright, and move around while upright to be able to reach things and converse at eye level. I thought it was amazing, but it cost nearly £20,000 – I’d better start saving now and Matthew might get it by the time he’s 50. I know there are grants available, but anything designed for anyone with a disability is out of the average family’s reach.

We did buy some lovely soft dribble-bibs from a stand, made in different colours, patterns and sizes. We bought size 1 for Matthew – they are quite big, but better than the ones you find in shops that are more for small teething babies: www.bibbleplus.co.uk

There were quite a few holiday companies and one reduced me to tears by explaining the kind of holiday we could have, and said that I deserve a rest and to have a holiday too. Kindness always makes me cry! It was worth going just to enter the free holiday competitions they were doing, but I don’t think I won any. One lady I spoke to for a while (the one who made me cry) worked at https://www.ineedaholidaytoo.com/ They have a base in Brittany which is fully accessible and has staff on hand for any equipment or medication needs, or providing information about where to go and what to do. They also offer respite care while you are on holiday, and lots for the kids to do. They can also help you find accessible holidays in other parts of the world and the UK, and will even accompany you on a holiday to help with anything you need. I can’t vouch for their services but I think it’s definitely worth a look at their website. A few others were www.brickhousecottages.co.uk,  www.airbnb.com/adapted, www.church-farm-barns.co.uk, www.hamillcare.com or for transfers on and off aeroplanes, visit www.ablemove.co.uk  Check out the Family Fund (amongst others) for help with the cost of holidays.

Matthew would have been in his element herewww.yetitablet.com had a 98” tablet! They provide different size screens and have activities and entertainment designed for cognitive and communication development. The physical aspect of stretching and moving across a huge screen is also good for motor skills. They have their own app store, and everything on there is for use with people with additional needs. I dread to think how much this was, but it was impressive!

Warwick Davis was there but we didn’t get to see him – I loved him playing Willow with Val Kilmer, it was a great film! Anyway – hope some of that was helpful!! Oh, and remember, please vote for #thesekidsCAN when the vote opens on Monday 1st April 😉

https://www.thepeoplesprojects.org.uk/projects/view/thesekidscan

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