Visits to the grocery store can be especially tough.
We adopted our daughter when she was just 2 years old; we’re all still struggling with the effects of emotional trauma stemming from her early experiences in a Chinese orphanage.
There’s no question that Millie is the light of my life – but daily tasks can be daunting for her. Millie, now 11, has lower than normal cognitive abilities, she is mostly nonverbal, and she struggles with sensory overload disorder.
A few minutes in the checkout lane at a grocery store can do her in. There’s the constant beep-beep-beep as the cashier slides our bread, milk and cereal across the scanner. There are fluorescent lights coming from every direction. Oh, and smell of rotisserie chicken wafts toward us from a nearby cart.
Sometimes, this is just too much for Millie. She doesn’t have the words to express her frustrations, so resorts to an outburst. It’s the only things she knows to do.
But more often than not, the people around us simply don’t get it. They don’t understand what prompted Millie’s meltdown, and I often feel myself on the other end of a disapproving stare.
This was our ‘normal’ for years, and I wanted nothing more than to find a way to help my daughter find the sense of security that seemed to be missing.
I was fortunate to have a friend who knew exactly what I was going through. Susan adopted her daughter from the same Chinese orphanage (that’s how we met), and over the years, we shared plenty of laughs and plenty of tears. We were desperate to find a solution that would help Millie and Elsa function normally in social settings.
I began researching the effects of abuse and neglect on the brain. I wanted to understand what was happening to Millie and Elsa. Maybe, just maybe, that would help me come up with a solution.
One day, I was chatting with Millie’s occupational therapist, and she suggested we look into weighted blankets. This seemed like a great option – but when I began shopping around, I discovered that most weighted products on the market were big and bulky – and they used fabrics with big, bold patterns. My heart sunk. I wanted my daughter to blend in – I didn’t want people to see what she was wearing and question its purpose.
Susan and I put our heads together. I have a background in education, and Susan has a background in clothing design.
What if we could create a weighted blanket that was attractive – something that would complement the décor of a little girl’s bedroom or the décor of a well-designed living room?
And what if they we could create wearables that looked like wraps or scarves, using fabrics and patterns that align with current fashion trends?
This seemed doable.
Before long, we had designed and created several styles of weighted blankets and wearables – and to our delight, they worked!
When Millie would put on her favorite pink cape, she would relax right away. It was amazing!
Our business, CapeAble Sensory Products, incorporates innovative designs that use positive deep pressure touch stimulation, prompting the brain to release serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. The blankets and wraps also provide a dignified and fashionable way to relieve discomfort and anxiety in any social setting.
Our goal was simple: To create an aesthetically pleasing, dignified option that would both honor and comfort our customers.
Then, an interesting thing happened.
We began to hear from people living with anxiety, autism, ADHD, chronic pain, depression, Parkinson’s Disease, and sleep difficulties. Even adults feeling overwhelmed with the daily struggles of life seem to find comfort when using our products.
As orders continued to come in, we realized that we needed to scale our manufacturing operation. We tweaked our product designs, re-engineered our manufacturing process, obtained a Small Business Administration-backed loan, and leased our own manufacturing facility.
We are the first and only company to incorporate micro beading distribution in our weighted products, a process that ensures the recycled glass beads in the blankets disperse equally – even when someone has the blanked or wearable draped over their shoulders while standing up.
We are proud to say that our unique designs – and our manufacturing system – are patent-pending.
At the 2017 SCORE Awards, SCORE chose CapeAble Sensory Products as the Outstanding Innovative Small Business of 2017. SCORE is an organization that mentors American small businesses, providing guidance and advice to entrepreneurs.
More important, Millie is doing well.