Our family around Christmas 2010: Caleb, Abram, Macie, Rose and Jeff
My name is Rose. I'm a wife and mother of three children, one of whom is autistic. Abram was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at a very early age. He has always been very full of energy and has always had sleeping problems and the tendency to wander at night. This is our story of how I found my passion for helping others because of autism.
Abram climbed out of his crib early, so we bought him a crib tent. He figured out how to get out of it and ways to destroy it several different times. We tried putting him to bed in a typical toddler bed. He would get up and spin, spin, spin. Then, he would fall on the ground or bang into the walls. We constantly feared that he would eventually hurt himself. During this time, I was becoming drained by his ongoing "anti-sleep routine" and worried how effective I could be as a parent for Abram and my other two children. There is only so much patience in a tired mommy!
In June 2007, during a visit to a friend's house, Abram was still having sleeping issues. We used a pack-n-play and put an afghan over the top, securing it with bungee cords. This setup slowed Abram down - for a few minutes. It was then that we began to talk with our friends about what kind of bed, in theory, would be perfect for our special needs. Based on this discussion, we designed, and our friend built, what we now call The Safety SleeperTM.
Abram in 2008 with the first Safety SleeperTM. Since then, we have completely redesigned and improved various aspects of the bed as well as added many new features.
When we started using Abram's new bed, it felt like a huge physical, as well as emotional, weight was lifted from my body. It was an experience like no other I have ever felt before. This bed changed our lives so dramatically. No longer did I worry about his safety, no longer did I have to stay outside his door and wait until he tired himself out and fell asleep, no longer did I have the fear that we would never go on vacation as a family. This bed finally gave us the ability to be a typical family - visiting family and friends, spending the night at grandma's house, and most importantly having a regular bed routine.
After using the bed for a few months, my heart became heavy that I was supposed to share this safe, portable bed with other families who have special needs children to give them the same comfort and peace of mind. I decided to offer it under the name The Safety SleeperTM.
The Safety SleeperTM is a bedframe that can be made to fit a regular twin, twin XL or full size mattress. The enclosure piece is made of a durable polyester material and mesh that encompasses the mattress and works like a canopy or tent so that Abram is completely contained. The best part for us: The bed enclosure is portable and allows us to once again travel together as a family. When we travel, we use a twin size air mattress.
Left: Most hotel rooms offer enough space to set up Abram's Safety SleeperTM (here an earlier version) and Macy's pack 'n play. Right: Abram and I at a Jamaican beach, spring 2010.
Since 2009, The Safety SleeperTM has found a home with more than 200 families across the US and abroad, allowing caregivers to provide a safe and secure bed option for their loved one.
Read what they have to say...
Walk now for Autism, Texas 2009, and at the Disability Awareness Celebration at PNC Park, Pittsburgh, 2010.
Since then, The Safety SleeperTM has been completely redesigned.
I have heard from many more families that need The Safety SleeperTM but can't afford it. Knowing all too well that insurance and other funding sources often do not cover the expensive equipment needed to make life for children with special needs easier, my friend Jackie Smolinski and I joined together and established a non-profit organization: Fund it Forward helps families obtain expensive medical and adaptive equipment such as augmentative communication devices, bath and feeding chairs, enclosed beds and sensory equipment.
If your family is struggling to cover the costs of expensive equipment, please do not hesitate to contact Fund it Forward. Click here to learn more!
In 2010, I was nominated for and received one of Pittsburgh's "40 under 40" awards. The program recognizes 40 people under the age of 40 who are committed to shaping our region and making it a better place for everyone.
Of course there are other enclosed beds, and there are other portable beds. But in contrast to sterile looking medical beds or flimsy tent beds, no other product combines all of the features like The Safety SleeperTM does.
The Safety SleeperTM is
– easily assembled/disassembled (no
– and provides a fun and friendy safe zone for kids and adults of all ages.
During the 5th Pittsburgh Entrepreneur Conference, Rose received the 2013 Community Service Award of Pittsburgh for her extraordinary work with the non-profit organization FUND IT FORWARD which helps families with special needs children to obtain expensive medical and adaptive equipment.