Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Handmade gifts by special needs moms that pay for their kids' therapies

There are a whole lot of crafty moms out there—and some are doing Martha Stewart seriously better in the karma department. Not because these moms make such amazing stuff, which they do, but also because what they sell pays for therapies for their kids with special needs.

Great gifts that do kids good? Bring it on! You'll find presents for kids, friends, teachers and basically everyone here. Start your holiday shopping with these ladies, and encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Dress-up crowns, capes and tutus (starting at $20)

Who: Melanie Spranger, of Better Than Normal; mom to Daniel, 6, who has BPP (brain malformation), cerebral palsy and epilepsy
Why: "I sell fun things to make little kids feel special all the time!" says Melanie. "The money I makes pay for various therapies that aren't covered by insurance—hippotherapy, AMB, swimming. I hope therapy will give Daniel more freedom, independence and a way to feel more like a 'typical' kid. Daniel never gives up and always has a good attitude toward everything. He lights up the room."

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Chalkboards and small signs (starting at $10)

Who: Megan Cume from Sweet Sadie Marie; mom to Sadie, 4, who has cerebral palsy
Why: "The stuff I make helps to pay for our therapy copays for PT and OT, and our trips to see Sadie's specialists," says Megan. "We travel 160 miles each way to see her neurologist and gastroenterologist, and to go to the spasticity clinic. It also helps us pay for special shoes to go over leg braces, and any other PT equipment we need at home. My dream for Sadie is that these therapies and specialists will enable her to be as independent as possible, and help her reach her fullest potential. Sadie has the kindest soul and is determined to conquer the world. She's already beat so many odds, and she is a gift from God!"
Where: Megan's Etsy shop

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Dolls, Christmas tree toppers, teddy bears, bunting and pillows (starting at $10)

Who: Christine Zorn from A Sugar and Spice Life; mom to Samantha, 3&1/2, who has autism, epilepsy, and cortical malformations
Why: "Right now, the #1 thing I'd like is to get Sam communicating—with words, pictures, signs, anything," says Christine. "She is nonverbal and does not sign." The crafts she makes help pay for Sam's weekly speech, OT, and PT each week. "She also goes to a kids' gymnastics and fitness place that has a wonderful special needs program. I'd like to get her started with music therapy in the near future. The thing that amazes me about Sam is what a teacher she is. Without saying a word, and just by being her sweet self, she has taught me to be a much more patient, compassionate person, and a better mother."
Where: Christine's Etsy shop

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L.I.F.E. Jacket Coffee Sleeve ($2.99)

Who: Malaika Mums, a group of mothers of kids with special needs in Kenya who sew goods to help support an education for their kids ("malaika" is Swahili for "angel").
Why: The nonprofit group Comfort the Children opened the Malaika Kids School opened in 2007, the first school of its kind for kids with special needs. Kids with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism and spina bifida are students there, along with kids who are deaf and blind. As the kids attend class, CTC has trained their moms in sewing skills so they can provide an income for their families and pay the school fees—and paid them top dollar for their work. "I feel empowered, fulfilled and full of self esteem that I can walk through town with my head held high," says Josephine. "I am a provider and not a beggar, thanks to all who love and support us."
Where: Get the L.I.F.E. Jacket at CTC International, along with bags and change purses made by the mums.

Malaika Mum Alice with her son Mike, who has autism

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Notecards ($10 for box of 8)

Who: Janet Harrold, from Painting For Hailey; grandma to Hailey, 4, who has cerebral palsy
Why: Janet makes original oil paintings (with a discounted rate for families of kids with special needs) and notecards to pay for conductive education which, Janet says, "we hope will help Hailey live a more independent life." She adds, "Hailey is an amazing little girl who has taught our whole family how to live a brand new life, a life that we never knew existed. She brings us to new places and gives us a new perspective on what is most important, and has shown us how to be better people and more accepting and aware of others."
Where: Email harrold.janet@gmail.com and put "Notecards" in the subject line

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Headbands, tutus and crochet hats (starting at $10)

Who: Cherie Kollee of Girlybaby; mom to Charlotte and Evelyn (3 years old), who have autism
Why: "It started small with me making simple headbands for the girls," says Cherie. "One day I went to Sears Portraits and the manager loved my hands and asked if I would make some for the studio. A business was born!" Cherie's super-cute accessories help pay for IBI therapy for her girls. "We hope the therapy will give them a head start while we wait for government funding in two to three years time. There has been amazing progress with the girls! Every day I hear more language skills and social interactions. It's a great day when I hear one tell the bus driver 'Bye.'"
Where: Cherie's shop on Facebook

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Weighted blankets and other custom therapy products for kids with sensory issues/kids on the autism spectrum (starting at $30)

Who: Stacy Wright of Stacy Sensory Solutions, mom to Natalie, 8, who has Sensory Integration Disorder.
Why: "I specialize in customized equipment, which includes weighted goods such as lap pads, blankets, wraps, and stylish vests as well as resistance items including tunnels, swings, and cushions," says Stacy. "My daughter sees an OT and gets vision therapy, and attends sensory gymnastics and a play therapy group to work on social skills. Our insurance company will not cover any of her therapy. Ugh! My daughter is the kindest person I have ever come across. I want her to feel self confident among her peers and increase her processing speed so she is able to master skills taught in school. I also want her to understand her sensory issues and manage them successfully to live up to her potential. Beyond that, I hope to see her use her challenges to make herself stronger and help others. Bottom line... I want her to be able to live a happy life."
Where: Her online shop, Stacy's Sensory Solutions

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Children's board book (starting at $9.95)

Who: Shasta Kearns Moore of Outrageous Fortune; mom to two-year-old twins JJ and Malachi, who has cerebral palsy.
Why: Shasta wrote, illustrated, published and distributes Dark & Light: A Love Story in Black and White. "It's a beautiful story that celebrates love and difference through universal themes," says Shasta. "Children up to age 8—and even many adults!—adore the book. Because of the high-contrast images, it is particularly ideal for babies and children with visual impairments. Nearly all of the profits from the book go toward Malachi's various medical expenses, primarily Anat Baniel Method lessons. Ten percent are 'paid forward' to other kids with functional needs."
Where: Read the entire book and buy your copy at Dark & Light Books.


  1. The notecards are gorgeous but so are the crowns. I'm off to visit your links! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Ellen, thank you so much for sharing about our L.I.F.E Jackets. Just to clarify, you can buy 3 for $5 from our online store. Happy Holidays!

  3. These are beautiful ideas and solutions! Love them. As a mom of a developmentally delayed daughter with a seizure disorder, I can relate. These moms, grandmothers, have found a positive outlet for their creativity to contribute. Wonderful. Can't wait to visit the links.

  4. Ellen,

    Thank you for posting these, it certainly helps to get people in the shopping mood as well as helping out for worthwhile causes. I love knowing that something I buy helps someone out. This really personalizes it as well. Love the double duty!

  5. Awesome xx I wish I'd remembered to email you when you said you were going to do this!! Oh well... maybe you could do it again sometime? And maybe I won't be so scatterbrained next time, and I'll actually email you about my etsy/facebook shop :)

  6. Everyone, Josephine's pretty ribbon blankets and other stuff can be found at Avery's Shoes & Gifts over at http://www.etsy.com/shop/AverysGifts?ref=seller_info

    Also, Erica D. makes jewelry, soaps and bath salts to help pay for therapies and medical care for her daughter, who was born a preemie. Check out her online store: http://yardsellr.com/yardsale/Erica-Davis-431472

  7. Ellen, thanks for this post. I love to find products like this. Also on the lookout for more handmade special needs products and hard to find.


Thanks for sharing!

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