Parents of children with special needs kept pointing Ana Tomson to the Otteroo. Her son, Graham, has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. She thought the Otteroo could be great for her son but because he is small for his age, she was hesitant to buy it. She finally decided to invest in one when Otteroo was offering a special promotion, and is still amazed by the results. When she reached out to us with her story, we were so moved, we asked for an interview so that we can share it with you.
You first purchased the Otteroo when Graham was 2.5 years old. Why did you decide to buy it at that time?
The Otteroo is actually well-known in the special needs community, if you want to call it that. Just because there are a lot of devices that parents need to get for kids who have high muscle tone or low muscle tone, whether their kids have cerebral palsy or other comorbidities, to help them in the pool. But, a lot of things that are marketed as special needs are $200 or $300, which is just ridiculous. For everyday things that we need to use for Graham, that is not in our price range. When I searched around, I had a lot of people point me in your direction. I knew it wasn’t marketed toward special needs kids, so I was kind of like, “I don’t know about this. …”
Graham was still so small, I was like, “Okay, he’s not over the weight limit for it, but I don’t know how it’ll work with his movements.” He’s spastic and he has chorea and dystonia. So it’s basically like a crazy ninja kid who really likes to dance. That’s what he’s like all the time: he’s moving. So I didn’t know the support it would give, but you guys had a sale this summer where I think with shipping and everything it was just over $30 and I was like, “I’m going to do it.” And I bought it and we tried it out. He needs the support in his neck to keep his trunk strong, so it works because it supports his neck but it leaves his body hanging so he can still kind of use it.
How did he react?
Graham doesn’t have full purposeful movement in all of his extremities so the water gives him a little more control of that. He’s actually learned a little more purposeful movement: how to grab things, move his feet, coordinate his feet, which we’ve been working on in therapy literally since he was four months old. The Otteroo has helped us move those things along and our therapist just recommended water therapy for him too because he’s done so well in the pool in the summer. He’s an interesting, very complicated child who’s definitely benefited from the Otteroo mounds and mounds and mounds, leaps and leaps. I can’t even explain it.
Will Graham use the Otteroo in therapy?
Yes, I told the therapist that it is what works best. We’ve tried a lot of other things. We’ve tried a lot of expensive other things and they haven’t worked. The Otteroo is what he’s worked with best.
Have you recommended it to other parents?
Yes. After seeing me express how much I loved what it did for Graham and how much freedom it gave him, one of my other mom friends, who has a child similar to my son, just bought it. She just sent me pictures of him in the tub trying it, and he loves it too. And, she loves how it works. You can see him moving his arms and legs around and he’s limited in movement like Graham too. She loved it too.
Have you ever had any concerns while using it?
No. Even with Graham, who doesn’t have that natural mammalian reflex to close everything off and keep water from going down, we’ve never had an issue. There might have been a few times where his brother jumped in the pool and splashed him and he got water in his mouth but other than that, it’s … I don’t know how to explain it because I can understand how people look at it and say, “There’s no way I’d put my infant in there. What if they flip over?” But it just.. I don’t know the physics behind what you guys have done, but it just works!
We love hearing these stories!
I’m just really happy that we found this. And it’s a lot more prevalent and well-known in the special needs community than I think you guys understand. It’s done a lot more for kids on the lower end of the spectrum for muscle tone and stuff to help them in the pool.
What do you think of our new product: the Lumi?
I honestly think that you couldn’t have hit the nail on the head any better because we do look for that, especially with special needs moms, not just getting their coordination to a certain level, but them understanding what they’re doing, and if they can see what they’re doing that’s even better.