Slightly ranty post & news about a new lightweight compact Special Needs stroller.

My youngest child occasionally uses a special needs stroller. It gives us (and our son)  freedom and security and our other children the chance to enjoy holidays and days out without quite so many interruptions as their sibling struggles to cope.

Useful as it is, it doesn't stop me dreaming about other stroller options, or from ranting about how difficult it can be to choose a stroller when you don't get to try them out first!

madmumof7 son in SN stroller

Right, wait a minute while I climb on my soapbox. *huffs and puffs. * Right, I'm on.

SN strollers - a rant.

The one we have is one of the cheapest on the market but the very basic model, without a hood, liner, basket or extra comfort supports was still over £100 second hand. Bear in mind I can wander into Argos or Mothercare and choose a variety of almost identical but smaller models for a fraction of this price.

With "normal" buggies" I can choose from patterns, accessories and designs to suit my lifestyle and taste for a small child but as soon as you attach that SN label, prices rocket.

What I'd like to see is well known High Street stores stocking SN strollers. I'd like to be able to have a good look at them, push one, sit my child in one, like you do when you are buying one for a baby or toddler.

I'd like to have a go at folding them, feel the quality, see the accessories and maybe like at some baby/toddler stores, have the option to pay in instalments so I could have the stroller I really want and which will work for our family's lifestyle.

I'm not expecting every store to stock them but some of the larger stores could surely have at least one or two on display?

We bought our McClaren Major Elite online and while I love the freedom it gives us, we are glad we have a generously sized boot to store it in and I am already dreading taking it to the airport with us, even though we have booked special assistance.

It's an umbrella stroller, just a bigger version of the ones you buy for toddlers really, but unlike those you have to detach the solid footrest before folding. So you either put it on the floor and forget it, or tuck it under your arm, or take time to stuff it into a bag.  Hopefully our son will be distracted by the airplanes and be happy to wait while we sort it out.

child with autism at airport

It has to come to the gate with us and my husband is busy trying to work out how to somehow fix the footrest to the stroller when we will have precious few minutes available, so it doesn't get lost en route.

At the other end we have to hope it will fit into the boot along with our luggage.

In my dreams I would own something like a Convaid which will grow with our boy, or the new prettier and practical R82 Cricket (pictured below) but with prices around 6 times what our SN stroller cost for the very basic unit of most SN strollers like these it really is a pipe dream for us. *sigh*

Cricket from R82

Anyway, in case you are thinking about getting a new/first SN stroller or paediatric wheelchair let me tell you more about the company which makes the cute Cricket.

Etac R82 is a Swedish owned company based in the UK that provides a comprehensive suite of quality and ergonomic Scandinavian influenced products. 

This equipment allows children, teens and adults to develop their abilities and enjoy greater inclusion in day-to-day life. The brands that Etac R82 supplies include Etac, R82, Molift, Immedia, Convaid and Star Cushion products which assist with all aspects of daily living. 

Etac R82 will be demonstrating at Kidz-South (a free to enter disabled living exhibition) how its products offer assured support when enjoying ‘The Great Outdoors’. 

The R82 products on display will include:
• NEW Cricket – a lightweight, compact and easy-to-fold buggy system for disabled children
• Crocodile – a walking frame ideal for outdoor activities and sports such as Frame Football
• Mustang – a developmental walker with wheels suitable for indoor and outdoor use
• Scallop – a flexible and lightweight, fabric-based seating system ideal for easy transportation
• Stingray – an adaptable and ergonomic children’s buggy that encompasses a seat that can be turned 180 degrees. Children can benefit from the reassurance of facing their parents or enjoy seeing the world around them. It can also recline flat to act as a mobile changing table
• Stingray – a specialist car seat for disabled children so they can travel with their family and not be separated in a wheelchair at the rear of a vehicle
• Kudu – a reclining paediatric wheelchair with tilt-in-space adjustment and bespoke specification

As you can see the Cricket folds down into a compact shape which I imagine would fit nicely into one of those travel bags you can get online.

R82 Cricket folded down

I like the adjustable handle which would suit me AND my husband who is considerably taller than me.

 I love the generous hood which would give my son personal space to retreat into when he's feeling overwhelmed and I love the funky wheels. Most of all I love the look of it folded - very practical!

Luckily the chair is an aid not an every day necessity for our son and the one we have is perfectly fine for our life generally, especially now I have added a nifty bag to the handles, but it doesn't stop me admiring the high end models now does it?

SN stroller owners - tell me what you like/dislike about your model. It might prove useful for those just looking at their options.

Bag attached to McClaren Major Elite SN stroller.

Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post!