Our journey with Rainbows United began in 2004 when our then-4-month old son Jacob was fresh out of the NICU, having been there since birth. Jacob was born 16 weeks premature and spent those first months fighting for his tiny little life. We didn’t know what the future held for our first-born son, but being introduced to Rainbows United would be the beginning of a long, amazing relationship. Jacob, now 12, is blind due to Retinopathy of Prematurity, non-verbal, has Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (epilepsy) and a chromosome abnormality, started in-home therapies when he was just 5 months old. Those therapies would continue for the next six years; eventually transitioning to center-based care. Jacob’s Rainbows United therapists and social workers helped us help Jacob. From “he held his head up for 10 seconds” to the tear-inducing “he walked with a walker un-assisted for the first time ever!” When our child was born weighing less than a loaf of bread, with his tiny heart beat visible through his fragile chest, we didn’t know if he’d survive, let alone walk. Every day was a milestone. Every second of therapy was a blessing.
When Jacob was about 8 years old, a dear friend of mine asked if I had ever considered a weighted blanket for him. I did some research and found that weighted blankets provided a calming effect to hyperactive senses. For a child like Jacob who has multiple diagnoses, one of which is sensory processing disorder, I was willing to try anything. Jacob had meltdowns- episodes of crying, kicking, screaming, and thrashing. What we didn’t realize at the time was that his senses were on overload and he didn’t know how to self-sooth. As an avid crafter and sewer, I thought I’d put my skills to the test and make a weighted blanket for him. We simply couldn’t afford the medical grade weighted products available on the market so I found a pattern, made a plan and got to work. J
acob’s weighted blanket calmed him with the very first use. I was so happy, I could have shouted it from the rooftops! But instead of the rooftops, I shared it on Facebook (the next best thing, right?) and that’s when a friend asked me to make one for her daughter. Then another friend asked for a weighted lap pad for her son. Within weeks, One Strong Mother Handmade was born. I wanted to make items for families just like mine at a price that families could afford.
“Anya never wanted to be tucked in at night in any way. The last few years she has really pushed me out the door. Then we got her weighted blanket from you and she started to WANT to be put to bed… WANT to be covered up with her head on a pillow. It is so nice for her to want some contact. It’s so nice to feel like more than just a caregiver giving meds and g-tube feedings. Thank you!!!” –Natalie Jansen
It warms my heart to know that families can go to any of the big name special needs product suppliers, but they chose me. Little old me. Jacob’s mom. Well, thanks for choosing me: One Strong Mother. I found my purpose in this crazy world- helping other families like my own. I often struggled with what I want to be when I grew up. I was once a nursing student. But having Jacob taught me more about this world than I ever imagined. When I paired my love for sewing and crafting with my love of helping others, a match was made. Facebook: www.facebook.com/onestrongmotherhandmade Instagram: @onestrongmother This post was written by Trish Smith, a former Rainbows’ parent. Click here to read more stories about Rainbows’ children and families.