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We Need to Start Questioning the Costs of Adaptive Equipment

I was going through my emails yesterday, and noticed a promotion from a company that specializes in adaptive equipment for my daughter, Logan. They had several “must have” adaptive strollers for outdoor use, and I always quickly look at these for several reasons. The main reason is that Logan is almost too big for our trusty Jeep jogging stroller. This thing is a beast and we love it, but it’s time to move on soon.

Logan in her stroller

So, I scrolled down to see if there was anything I hadn’t seen before. There wasn’t. But then my eye caught one that was made for the beach…it could go in the water. It looked pretty simple and had no frills. I clicked on it to see the price, and suddenly I felt so angry. I was thinking it might be a couple hundred dollars. No, it was $1,431.95. And that was on sale from $1,800 – all that, for a stroller that we would likely use a few times a year. (To be fair, this company does have some reasonably priced items.) Thankfully, our friend is incredibly talented and can make this beach stroller for less than a couple hundred, and it will most likely be better than the one I came across. Still, how can something made out of PVC pipe be so expensive? And it didn’t even come with a cup holder.

logan in her stroller I started thinking about how ridiculously expensive gear is for anyone with a disability. To be honest, I am mad about it. It feels like the disability community is being taken advantage of. I understand the high prices for equipment that is made for those with complex medical needs, but something like a stroller or bed is mind boggling.

Our families face many financial burdens. There are countless therapies, doctor appointments, medications, feeding supplies, diapers, special gear, etc. Many parents can’t work full-time jobs because of their child’s medical needs and demanding schedules. Many don’t have decent insurance that will cover all of these costs (and if they do, they have to spend countless hours fighting for coverage). Many do not qualify for any kind of financial assistance. I feel like these companies know that the parents or caregivers will do anything possible to make life easier for everyone all around, so they feel like they can charge exorbitant prices.

When we were looking for a bed for Logan, I thought it would be fairly easy to find what we needed. Boy was I wrong. The bed that was suitable for Logan cost a whopping $7,900 — for a bed! Insurance wouldn’t cover it since it was not a “medical necessity.” How disappointing. Luckily, we found the resources to have an almost identical one made for much cheaper. You can read about it here.

logan's adaptive bed with posts

Logan needs an adaptive stroller since she is not walking independently yet. This was a must, and we found the perfect fit for her with the Leggero Reach. This was a couple grand (some say adaptive strollers are glorified strollers), but thankfully our insurance covered all of it. For parents whose children have disabilities, I’d recommend this brand. It comes with all the accessories and folds up nicely. Logan’s posture in this is incredible (she doesn’t sink back and get too comfy like in some others we tried).

logan in her new stroller

Communication is also a must for us. Since Logan can’t point yet, we had to settle on a Tobii, a device that tracks her eyes. It’s incredible and worth every penny. And it’s also a pretty penny, somewhere around $15,000. Thankfully, insurance came through on this one as well. Still, I feel the price alone is shocking for a device that is pretty bulky.

logan's togii

Oh yes, and there are special high chairs, swings, bikes, etc. These are all 10 times more than similar products for typical kids. Why? (Well, I know why for some, but not most products I come across.)

Those are just our expenses for gear. We are lucky. Many other kids need much more, and that comes at a hefty price. For some it is easy and manageable, but not for most.

How are our kids supposed to reach their full potential without these devices and adaptive products?

How can these companies charge such ridiculous amounts of money for people with disabilities?

Maybe our community should start a company that specializes in quality products at realistic prices for gear and furniture, that every family can afford — one way or another.

Have you struggled to get access to devices, furniture or other adaptive products your child needs? Let us know in the comments below.

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