Made of Gray

Abilities Expo Houston

Holly D Gray10 Comments
On Friday morning we packed up and headed down to Houston for the Abilities Expo. I had this planned for about two months. So I was excited to hit the road. We had been talking it up to Caleigh for awhile now. She was excited too.
The expo was just like any other expo/conference I had been to. There were vendors, dealers and vendors/dealers doing workshops. The cool thing about this one was the atmosphere. For us this wasn't about checking out the stuff. It was about exposing Caleigh to the world of people, just like her, with disabilities. None of us have ever been in a room with so many wheelchairs, and frankly, it was awesome.
Caleigh got to ride her very first tricycle at the expo. She loved it and kept asking for "more." We plan on trying to get her one. It may look like a regular tricycle, but of course anything disability related cost a fortune. This little bike is about $3500.
Today before we left, Caleigh got to ride the tricycle again. That time she yelled the whole ride because she was so excited. Caleigh wasn't making the pedals go on her own, but I think she could make it happen with practice. What a fun way to be a kid.
Eric sat and stared at this little number forEVER. He is convinced that Caleigh needs one. He made me take a picture of it. Apparently they are really popular. There was a guy driving around with his gun mounted on his. Maybe Caleigh can get the power chair driving thing down before we add a camo-gun-chair to the mix. ahem....

In the photo above you can see Caleigh sitting in a chair. It's called a Chill-Out Rock'er by Freedom Concepts {same as the trike people}. I loved the chair. Caleigh would need the next size up, but it looked so comfortable. I sat in a large one and it was comfy to me. I was all for having a chair that Caleigh could use in the living room while watching TV. This chair, of course, is about $600. When we went back to the hotel, Caleigh said she didn't like it and that it wasn't comfortable. So there you go. We saved 600 bucks. She doesn't want one.

I think we have found an iPad, tray, Tobii mounting system for Caleigh's power chair. It looks really promising and we hope to get it funded when/if we order the Tobii communication device for Caleigh. Base price on the mount is about $1200.

Caleigh got to meet Mrs. Amanda Hall. She is the current Ms. Wheelchair Texas. We talked to her for awhile and was pleasantly reassured that the Ms. Wheelchair pageants are not a Toddlers in Tiaras situation. The main reason for the pageant is to promote disability awareness and to have a positive role model out there. They also have a Little Miss Wheelchair. It's nice to know that something like this is out there just in case Caleigh wants to be involved some day. I don't think we will push or put her in the pageant, but it's always something to think about. Plus, she definitely has the hair for it.
I think Eric and I have narrowed down the adapted van that we will {hopefully} get, eventually. It was nice to see all of the modified vehicles and their different companies at the expo. We compared and picked up brochures and talked about details with the vendors. Just like the equipment above, we are looking at close to $60,000. For a van. A van. We can cut corners in some areas which might help that number a bit, but we plan on keeping the van until it dies. Hopefully 10-15+ years. The main thing that will push us to get a new van for Caleigh is air-conditioning. Our van has 5 vents and it just isn't enough to cool our easily overly heated girl. We added a clip on fan and that has helped some. When Caleigh's wheelchair needs a growth spurt we won't be able to fit it in the van anymore either. So there are issues, but right now we are liking our set up, especially for the price of free.

All in all, we had a great time. It was a quick get away with a purpose and we will probably go again sometime. Caleigh got a lot of attention for her curls and the iPad. It happens quite a bit here at home, but it was in overdrive in the crowded expo. We met very nice people and even got to see a few friends too.

We are so extremely happy that Caleigh was able to experience this weekend. I talk a lot about mine or Eric's acceptance regarding Caleigh's disabilities, but really there is an acceptance process for her too. Even though she is 4, we want to help her in knowing that she is awesome just the way she is, and just as important, she is not alone. Perhaps this weekend helped.
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