Sunday, September 30, 2012

Steve's Bed

For the last couple months, my project was to make a bed for my son to last him the rest of his life. It needed to be sturdy. I wanted it to have storage. It should be neutral to go with many decors, but interesting on its own.

I had the basic design. Two boxes for the sides, simple head and foot boards, toe kick frame underneath to prevent things from rolling under the bed. I was planning to make it from poplar and plywood, painted with a black and white motif. Jeff convinced me to make it from brown, wormy maple. It's harder than poplar, interesting in its own right, and less expensive.

Steve already has a maple changing table, so it would kinda fit in. Not an exact match, but he likely won't be taking his changing table with him.

Because of its solid design, I made the bed in five main pieces: two side boxes, head board, foot board, and frame. The boxes overhang the frame and are kept aligned with blocking along the inside edge. The boards have threaded inserts match drilled to through holes at the box ends, so the boards are bolted from the inside and no hardware shows from the outside. Each box is designed with three compartments, the middle one having a shelf at mid height.

The maple is finished with a light stain and several coats of acrylic. Lighting sanding it by hand using 320 grit made for a smooth finish. Steve still needs a bed that is easy to clean.

Overall, it was a good project. One that I am very proud of. It was, also, a real pain to do the final assembly since the inserts have a way for not setting in perpendicular to the wood face. Matching those up blind, while on your hands and knees and hoisting an eighty pound box with one hand made for good exercise but left me surly, too. It was quite the work out to move those pieces up two flights of stairs from my basement to his room. I didn't have the luxury of doing the box assembly upstairs, like I did for my bathroom, because these pieces were bigger and required more woodworking.

Hope calls it Frankenstein's Bed due to its massive, Gothic styling.

Now it's done and I can start worrying about my next project - reflooring and painting the house. I already have the wood on order and am scheduled to pick up my first batch in a couple weeks. Yikes!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Traveling with a Special Needs Child

My son is twelve, and has multiple handicaps. In the current parlance, he is developmentally delayed but he is non-verbal, not toilet trained, and small-statured. He is also ambulatory, well-adjusted, and takes direction well. He is as atypical as they come.

So what is it like traveling with him?

Vacationing with him has been generally successful. We always fear that he will have an explosive bowel movement at an inconvenient time, but although that fear is not unfounded it has rarely occurred (he did get a new set of socks at Disney, so rare doesn't mean never). Still, this is what we have done with them.

Lake Nippissing
A cabin in the woods, on the bank of a river. Since he was with us the whole time, there were no problems. He enjoyed the playgrounds at Callander and North Bay.

Turks and Caicos
We enjoyed a stay at Beaches Resorts in Turks and Caicos. The kids program staff was wonderful towards our son. He would run towards the kids area every morning. The only problem we encountered was immigration and customs. Our son hates waiting in line and ended up bawling inconsolably.

Disney World
Steve melts down in lines, so we obtained a pass that allowed us to skip the lines. That helped, but the heat and the walking made him grumpy and whiny. Dark rides scared him, fast rides thrilled him.

Niagara Falls
This was a short fall trip. Christmas decorations were out on the Canadian side. The hotel had a nice pool. This was an easy excursion for us to make.

Seattle and Vancouver
He liked the Space Needle. Would have enjoyed swimming in Vancouver, but the pools were closed due to a city worker strike.

Nickelodeon Resort (visited Orlando amusement parks other than Disney) and Sarasota
Big breakfasts and pools at Nickelodeon. He did well at Sea World and Universal. Loved swimming at the beach in Sarasota. Fun trip.

Stayed at the Beaches Resort in Negril. Had a babysitter the whole week (for about $200) who helped him participate in kids' activities and took him swimming. He had a blast. Same melt down in immigration, though.

Washington DC
Lots of walking and looking at things beyond his understanding and interests, but he did well to endure it knowing that he would be rewarded with pool time in the evening.

He enjoyed swimming in the pool and the ocean.

Boston and Acadia
Lots of walking in Boston during a heat wave, but he liked Riding the Ducks. Also enjoyed Lulu the Lobster Boat out of Bar Harbor.

Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks
No swimming, but horseback riding and boating were his favorites. He generally tolerated the hiking.

As you can see, we've been able to enjoy a wide variety of trips with only minor allowances for his handicaps. There are things we just cannot do with him, though. We cannot go white water rafting. We cannot enjoy a day at Cedar Point as a family. But I would encourage those with special needs people in their lives to give it a go with a bit of extra planning.

Edit: you can cross off Cedar Point from the things Stephen can't do. He has been able to enjoy riding the roller coasters there with his special needs high school class using their virtual line system.