Product Review: Candy Corn and Smoothie Switches

The switches with names that excite the taste buds and entice users with their marvelous features.

There are many switches on the market for people who need alternate ways to access their computers, tablets, toys or games, and other daily living activities. Figuring out which switches are right for your needs can be difficult. Comparison charts such as the AbleNet Access Switch Comparison Chart can be helpful way to know about a variety of switches and their features.

I recently had the opportunity to explore two types of sensitive switches, the AbleNet Candy Corn Proximity Sensor and the Smoothie 125/Smoothie 75 by Pretorian Technologies Ltd.

Candy Corn Proximity Sensor  blog4_2

  • Fits in the palm of your hand

  • Activates without pressing or touching

  • Orange lights activate for visual cues

  • Beeping sound for auditory cues

  • 3.5 millimeter switch jack

  • Can be mounted magnetically

Smoothie 125/ 75 blog7_1

  • Low profile

  • Entire area of switch operates with a light touch

  • Auditory click when pressed

  • Varied colors

  • Large 125 mm diameter and small 75 mm diameter

  • Three recessed holes for mounting

blog7_2I started by connecting the switches to an AbleNet PowerLink 4 Control Unit to control everyday use items. The switches were ready to use out of the box, and I found them easy to operate.

Independently turning on and off lamps, an oscillating fan and even a handheld mixer (helping mix muffins) was possible using either switch. They were both easy to operate with either light touch or motion. Positioning is always an important consideration when deciding on placement and switch access. Mounting or angling the switch might take a few trials to get it right. The motion access on the Candy Corn is exciting, however you have to be 10 millimeters or closer for this to activate.

While reviewing these two products, I learned that a longtime friend, Justin, is learning to use two-switch scanning. Justin is using switches that are mounted to his wheelchair near the sides of his headrest.  His mom explained, “For Justin, turning his head to the right and left is his most reliable and purposeful movement.” I decided to visit Justin so he could try the Candy Corn Sensor and the Smoothie  switches.


Here is what Justin’s mom had to say about each:

“Justin can easily turn to the right to click a button type switch, however, his positioning isn’t always exact. I like that the Smoothie switch can be activated with a light touch anywhere on its surface. Justin has a harder time turning far enough to the left to activate a button switch, by positioning the Candy Corn proximity switch within his range of movement, he was able to access his computer games and switch toys without repeated tries.” - Judy Lee

Judy also said that she liked the audio cue of the Candy Corn, which prompted Justin to move his head back to midline. It was wonderful to check these switches out with Justin. With so many ways switches can be used, it was a great opportunity to explore with these lighter touch and proximity tools.

If you are looking for a lighter touch or sensitive switch the AbleNet Candy Corn Proximity Sensor and the Smoothie 125/Smoothie 75 switches might be an excellent option for you.

Learn More about Ablenet Switches at Enablemart>>

This blog was written by EnableMart Blog Writer Gabe Ryan from Sacramento, California. Gabe has used a wheelchair since he was three years old and is an experienced user of assistive technology tools. Some of these tools have been life-changing for him and he looks forward to sharing his experiences and perspectives with our blog readers. Gabe enjoys abstract paintings, is an avid music lover, and enjoys using his iPad and iPhone to connect with family, friends and the community.

How Emergency Oxygen Significantly Changes the Outcome of Medical Emergencies

Badge_OxygenWhen a serious or life threatening emergency arises, there are sometimes additional risks that can prove to be even more harmful than the primary issue. During a physical trauma oxygen can be depleted from the bloodstream, which leaves the victim at an increased risk for shock. Shock occurs when cells and organs are not receiving enough oxygen and nutrients to function properly.

Shock can be caused by any condition that reduces blood flow, or that reduces the amount of available oxygen in the blood. Common causes for shock include:

  • Sudden cardiac arrest

  • Heart attack or heart failure

  • Heavy bleeding

  • Dehydration

  • Severe allergic reactions

  • Spinal injuries

  • Serious injuries

Shock can often be a life-threatening condition affecting multiple organs in the body. Shock requires immediate medical treatment and can quickly escalate the severity of emergencies that may otherwise have not been life-threatening. As many 20% of people who suffer from shock will die from it.

Emergency oxygen helps to treat shock by bridging the gap between the onset of a medical emergency and the arrival of the first responders on the scene. Just like a fire extinguisher, oxygen products can be safely pre-positioned to provide immediate access to medical oxygen during a medical emergency between the onset of the emergency and the arrival of fire & rescue personnel.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) response times in the United States for fire & rescue ranges from 6 to 15 minutes from the time of dispatch. The response time can be higher, depending on traffic conditions or rural situations. Emergency oxygen provides immediate application of oxygen to a patient by a by-stander during the first critical minutes between the onset of the medical emergency and the arrival of the fire & rescue personnel.

Emergency oxygen systems are portable and easy to use solutions that focus on providing oxygen to both breathing and non-breathing people who have suffered serious injuries.

The American Red Cross says that emergency oxygen can help to improve the condition of hypoxia (insufficient oxygen reaching the cells) and can also help reduce pain and breathing discomfort.

Did you know?

  • Cardiac arrest in children and adolescents is usually attributed to respiratory causes rather than heart factors.

  • The primary goal of CPR during treatment of sudden cardiac arrest is to provide oxygen to the vital organ, especially the brain.

  • The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) points out that the majority of sudden death in children occurs from respiratory arrest.

  • Emergency oxygen is often overlooked during Sudden Cardiac Arrest incidents where CPR is administered and an AED is present.  While shocking the heart is vital to restart the heart, a lack of oxygen to the brain can prove just as fatal as heart fibrillation.

Emergency oxygen isn't just for use in a Sudden Cardiac Arrest.  Emergency oxygen can also be used for:

  • Asthma attacks

  • Diabetic emergencies

  • Cardiac arrest (post-resuscitation)

  • Chest pain

  • Heat exhaustion

  • Migraine headaches

  • Breathing difficulties

  • Allergy emergencies

  • Seizures

  • Dehydration

  • And many more medical emergencies

90896fl_lg_2School Health offers the OxySure Emergency Oxygen System  as a complete solution to administer emergency oxygen in the event of an emergency. OxySure is a lightweight, portable, and above all SAFE way to have emergency oxygen available, on-demand. This system gives a parent, a bystander, or even the victim themselves the ability to administer lifesaving oxygen when it is needed.

OxySure can help to significantly improve the outcome of a medical emergency. And, it complements the efforts of first responders. We recommend prominent placement of emergency oxygen devices. The most effective placement is alongside an AED device as emergency oxygen is recommended as part of the post-resuscitation process during a cardiac incident.

For more information on OxySure and available accessories for emergency oxygen, contact School Health at 888-323-5465.

Shop All Emergency Oxygen Systems>>

Ryan Eborn Ryan Eborn is from Salt Lake City, Utah, and has worked with School Health and Enablemart since 2010. Ryan graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in Strategic Communication. Since joining the School Health team he has had much experience in the special needs and early childhood fields. Ryan enjoys the rewarding challenge of bringing new tools together with teachers and students so that everyone can perform to the best of their ability. In his off time, Ryan enjoys living in the Rocky Mountains and everything that Utah has to offer, including skiing, hiking, camping and biking.

Scissoring Skills Part 2- The 4 Stages of Scissoring Skills Development

Badge_ScissorsPart2Learning to use scissors in a correct and controlled way takes patience and a lot of practice. For grownups, this is sometimes a skill that we take for granted. Because this is now a simple skill for us, we might expect it to be a simple skill for children too. And, we can sometimes become frustrated when this skill doesn’t progress as quickly as we think it should.

This frustration can introduce angst in to the learning process, which is actually counterproductive for children. Sometimes we feel like we need to “show” children how it’s done for them to understand. But, using scissors effectively is the culmination of a coordination of fine motor skills that we have developed over time.

Understanding the first steps to take and the path by which these skills progress helps us to be patient with children as they work toward their goals.

Stage  1 – Learning to hold the scissors. Children typically can learn to hold scissors between 18 months to 2 years of age. During this stage they will begin by opening and closing scissors with two hands and move to a more mature grasp as time goes by. They may be able to snip paper or a string during this time, and it is often beneficial to practice using a “helping hand” to stabilize the paper while holding the scissors. Cutting at this stage will typically not be directional, and there may not be forward movement of the scissors. Children may also open and close the scissors in an exaggerated manner while they are learning to work with scissors.

Stage 2 – Cutting with lines and curves. Children can progress to cutting straight lines and making curves between the ages of 2 and 4 years. During this stage they will typically start by using the scissors to push a cut across a sheet of paper. It is sometimes beneficial to have children practice cutting small strips of paper during this stage. Using a paper with a heavier weight will provide more stability, which lets the child focus more on operating the scissors, rather than holding the paper. These cuts are not likely to be highly accurate but children will typically be able to have some success with a straight line, and may even begin to turn a paper and make curved cuts as they progress.

Stage 3 – Accurately cutting curves and shapes. Between 4 and 5 years of age children will typically progress to a stage where they are able to cut accurately along curved lines and around shapes. They are able to turn and manipulate the paper as well as the scissors when they follow lines. They will often exercise better control as they open and close the scissors. This enhanced control typically produces smoother and less jagged cuts. At this point most children can work with various weights of paper and may even begin to be comfortable with non-paper materials.

Stage 4 – Mature manipulation and grasp. By ages 5 to 7 years children can generally progress to cutting complex shapes and figures. At this stage, their grasp of scissors and coordination between the cutting hand and the helping hand has become consistent. Most cuts will be made smoothly, without jagged edges or paper tears.

Appropriate expectations and practice are key factors in the progression of scissor skills. Many children progress differently based on their experiences at home or at preschool. EnableMart offers some great products that can give struggling students a leg up, and that help more advanced students perfect their skill.

The Developing Basic Scissor Skills Work Cards detail different steps in scissor skill development. These cards offer exercises appropriate for each level of development and can be photocopied, so that children can re-do exercises or work with the same exercise on different weights of paper.

The Developing Scissor Skills Guide is another great resource to guide scissor skill development from the basic level to the more advanced level.

It is always important to start with the right scissors. EnableMart offers the Child-Safe Scissor Set by Melissa & Doug. These scissors won’t cut clothing or hair, and have safety blades to help prevent injury.

Through patience and understanding, we can support children as they develop this essential skill. If you need help, be sure to contact us for additional resources or products to aid in development

Read Part 1: Five Things Your Children Should Be Able To Do Before They Work With Scissors

Scissoring Skills Part 1: Five Things Your Children Should Be Able to Do Before They Work with Scissors

Badge_ScissorsPart1Using scissors requires the combined use of many skills. Children must incorporate fine motor skills and bilateral coordination with hand-eye coordination. Because coordination of these skills is required, scissor skills tend to develop slowly, and in stages. Sometimes, we have a tendency to become frustrated and try to help by showing how it’s done. But, this “watch-me” approach isn’t as effective in helping children learn effective scissor skills.

Before children learn to use scissors, they should have effectively mastered some basic coordination and motor skills. When kids can perform these basic tasks we can feel more confident in starting to work with scissors.

1. Opening and closing each hand. One of the most basic movements for a child is to grasp something. Newborn infants exhibit the grasp reflex, but that is different than cognitively holding an item. Being able to open and close each hand helps bridge the gap between holding something by reflex and holding something because you want to hold it.

2. Isolating the thumb, index, and middle fingers. Being able to isolate movement between the thumb and fingers is key to being able to hold and manipulate items. (If children aren’t able to isolate their thumb and fingers, having full control over scissors probably isn’t realistic.)

3. Using a fork or a spoon. At feeding time, being able to hold a fork or spoon, and coordinate the movements required to get food from bowl to mouth is important. Using a fork or spoon requires the ability to hold or grasp an object, target a larger area (the bowl), and use muscle memory to make sure that food gets in their mouth instead of on their nose or chin.

4. Control wrists, forearms, and shoulders. Coordinated bi-lateral movement is needed to manage paper and scissors. Children should be able to use and move their wrists, forearms, and shoulders with good control.

5. Using hands in cooperation with each other. Children should be able to use their hands in a coordinated fashion to perform such tasks as taking the lid off of a jar or brushing a doll’s hair. Being able to use one hand to assist the other is a necessary step toward good scissor skills.

Development of these skills may vary depending on individual children, as well as exposure and experience both at home and in a pre-school or daycare setting. It is important to remember patience as these skills develop.

If you feel that development is taking longer than expected, you can sometimes find better results by modifying the tasks or activities that children are doing on a daily basis. Be mindful of incorporating activities that will help to hone motor skills and coordination. Sometimes, it is also necessary to alter our own expectations.

When children continue to have difficulty mastering these skills, screening by an occupational therapist can often be helpful.

Once these skills have been mastered, you are ready to begin to work with children in the development of scissoring skills. Enablemart offers a range of materials to guide you in this development process, including printed guides and development cards, and even scissors that are designed to help children develop scissor skills correctly and safely.

Here are links to a few key products:

Easi-Grip, Mounted Table-Top, Push-Down, & Self-Opening Scissors
Developing Scissor Skills- A Guide For Parents & Teachers
Developing Basic Scissor Skills Work Cards

Read Part 2:  The 4 Stages of Scissoring Skills Development

Multi-Positioning Seat Company Born Out of Need and a Father's Love

Special Tomato, offering special needs products taking the "Dis" from "Disability".                           blog8_1 Read below to find out how the company got its start, and its unique name. 

Carrie Bergeron was born in 1976 to Tim and Peggy Berrgeron. Carrie was their youngest of four children and was born with Down syndrome, a disorder which is typically associated with physical growth delays and mild to moderate intellectual disability, along with characteristic facial features.

In 1976, the information available to parents about Down syndrome was limited. There was less support from the medical community, and social support through understanding and advocacy groups was only just beginning.

Tim and Peggy quickly began to see that many of the things that could help Carrie learn and grow simply did not exist. The lack of available special needs products pushed Tim, an industrial designer, to begin a company that designed products to meet these needs.

Tim began to focus on developing seats that used softer material than had been traditionally available, and that were more durable and aesthetically pleasing. These seats were critical because they offered a way to position a special needs child in ways that facilitated day to day life – making everyday life easier for parents and care givers and more comfortable for the kids in the seats.

But over time, Tim noticed that the traditional materials used in even his seats weren’t as comfortable as they might be. Because special needs children can be seated for sometimes several hours at a time, Tim realized that they should be using a soft material that would breathe, be cleanable, and durable. Through recognition of this need (and through trial and error) the new Soft-Touch material used on today’s Special Tomato chairs was born.

But why the Special Tomato name?

blog8_2One summer evening found Tim in the garden, picking tomatoes in preparation for supper with the family. Carrie went outside to join her dad. She was frustrated and wondering why learning and schoolwork was more difficult for her. And, she wondered why the kids at school would tease her.

Tim recalled the year that Carrie was born, and a “special” tomato that had caught his attention at harvest time. The tomato had a large, smooth bright red side that was enlarged. The large bump on the side was so unique and looked so appetizing, and at supper, they found that tomato to be just as juicy as all the others.

Tim tells Carrie that she is his “special tomato.” Even though she has some differences, the strength of her character and outgoing personality make her just as special as each of her brothers and sisters.

Carrie is well known for her story and for using her gifts to help others as an advocate and a motivational speaker. Learn more by watching her story below:

Learn More about Special Tomato Products

Special Tomato features the Multi-Positioning Seat which offers a soft and lightweight seating solution that is both comfortable and durable.

Other popular seating solutions by Special Tomato include the Hi-Low Multi Position Seating (MPS) System which adds the conveniences of adjustable height and seat pitch.