I opened the box to find two foot plates, a parent's waist belt, and a blue child's harness for Noah and a set of instructions. My first impression was this is much too simple for Noah, and there is no way that he'll be able to use this with his limited head, neck and trunk control and I imagined he'd rather slip right out of it. I thought well it's a neat idea, but there is no way a child who cannot sit, walk, talk, crawl or self-feed can use this. I waited until Noah's daddy came home before using it for the first time. We laid Noah on the floor and put him in the harness. The harness has a great design with snaps on both shoulders. Plus number one, I wasn't trying to cram Noah's stiff arms through arm holes. And then clips that go over the shoulder straps to keep the child extra secure. We then strapped in Noah's legs which have straps that go from the groin to the hips. It took about less than five minutes to have him in the harness. I attached the waist belt which I thought immediately this is going to give me some back pain as it isn't that supportive, but thought well no pain, no gain for Noah. I then placed my feet into the footplates, and sat down on the couch and held Noah up against me to attach his shoulders to the waist belt, then his hip clasps to the waist belt then made his feet join mine in the foot plates.
Then we carefully stood up together for the very first time. Noah started to giggle and squeal with excitement. We took our first step in unison. And surprisingly no back pain or strain for Noah. His head lifted instantly to see what direction he was traveling, I would stop and his head would take a break and drop, I would walk again and he'd lift his head each time. I started to feel tears pooling in my eyes and before I knew it they were gently falling upon Noah's head. We were walking for the very first time. My child was walking and we were doing this magical thing together. And just when I thought that I couldn't get any more emotional over what I was experiencing, his little brother Luke walked up first gently taking Noah's hand in his out of curiosity and then walking up and wrapping his arms around his big brother. My heart was flooded with immense joy, endless tears streamed down my face and we all embraced each other. For the first time my children were hugging each other, Noah doing his best to wrap his right arm around Luke to hug back. The experience was nothing like I have ever felt. It was like having a dream come true, one you never thought would be possible.
I continued to walk on with Noah, I could feel him pushing through his legs and bearing weight, something I never knew if he could do in a traditional gait trainer or walker or even stander. We could assume that he was bearing weight at times but had no way of truly knowing, but I could feel it through my body, his movements. I knew exactly what he was doing, and at times it felt as if he was trying to take the lead in making steps. We walked over to the refrigerator and I opened it for Noah, he stood there in awe of what it contained for the first time he was able to see the world as we do, upright.
Our walking expanded to the backyard where we kicked a ball around a few times together and then for small walks outside the front of our home. I am sure our neighbors must be very curious, but I am sure we looked more like a family participating together than we ever did before just wheeling around Noah's wheelchair. We are especially excited to try it at the zoo this year so Noah can walk around and participate with other children just as they do. It gives our family endless ways of participating together.
The Upsee will retail for $489 USA dollars including shipping and handling. And will be available for purchase worldwide April 7th! The other really great option is that Firefly is offering a 14 day return policy, risk free! I would encourage any family who has a child with special needs who is unable to walk to obtain this piece of equipment.
|Noah at The Ark Petting Zoo in Belfast, Ireland|
|Walking as a family at The Ark Petting Zoo in Belfast, Ireland|
I will also be on the guest panel at the Webinar that Firefly is hosting on the product, April 1st, 2nd and 3rd to answer more questions and provide additional information on the product. Registration can be found at this link: http://www.fireflyfriends.com/webinar
You can read some press releases on the Upsee, including my interview with abc news at:
A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Must Begin With The First Step
Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.