The pictures above showcase Diva in her Gab N Go Harness, made by Safe n Sound Mobile. We first heard about the Gab n Go on a Facebook community group. I had asked for help with finding a way for Diva to carry her voice. Many of the kiddos I know literally carry their voices — they have straps, or handles, or some other way to manipulate their system. The thing is that Diva can’t carry her system like that. She primarily moves around independently through scooting and needs both of her hands. When she’s walking, she needs all of her energy to balance herself and get to her location. Yes, we could carry her system for her, but we found that this led to her being in a room without a voice for extensive lengths of time as we went about household errands. And, of course, there was another fear, any mama’s worst fear for a child with AAC — would her school ensure that her device was always with her? Would it end up in her backpack? Her cubby? Under her stroller? How could we be sure she genuinely had access to her voice, always?
Enter: Gab N Go.
We purchased our original harness in October 2014. I had no idea how it would go… Diva is pretty selective about what proprioceptive input she will tolerate and prizes her body autonomy. Would she try to take the harness off? Would she cry? None of the above! Diva tolerated the harness well, but we found the sizing and speaker holder were not working for her. We mentioned something in passing, and Safe N Sound contacted us to make sure things were right for her. They customized her harness to meet her needs, including stopping her from throwing her speaker because it was fun 🙂 (Small round object? Clearly we were giving her permanent access to a ball!) They adapted the sizing and she happily wore her harness for 3 months with no complaints. She had her voice everywhere. She had her voice when walking. She had her voice when swinging. She had her voice from arriving at school until dismissal, and even when sitting in her seat on the bus.
After a few months, Diva started tugging on her iPad when it was in her lap, pulling it to the side so that she could hold her toy or juice in her lap instead. No problem — except that the snaps were breaking and her iPad was not staying connected to the harness. When we changed her iPad case to a Lifeproof, we tried to use the Lifeproof strap instead of her harness. And then the iPad throwing started… Clearly, the very best way to get your parents to come running is to drop your iPad. Mad because we weren’t coming right away to the bathroom? Drop the iPad on the floor. Frustrated because we didn’t get her juice right away? Drop the iPad on the floor. Our worries escalated when we found ourselves one morning at her school, having dropped her off, without her voice. She dropped it on the floor of the car without us realizing. Luckily, Husband could go back, but the idea of her being without her voice for an entire day was frightening and something that I didn’t want to repeat. I didn’t know what to do — she had broken her harness, the strap wasn’t working.
Enter: Gab N Go, 2.0. The lovely Safe n Sound started working on a re-design of the harness to increase comfort and ease for all their uses. Safe n Sound believes in what they do. They believe in how important it is for a child to have a voice and to have that voice all the time. They wanted to make sure that Diva, too, would have voice all the time. They asked us questions. They listened to our concerns. They make changes to meet the needs of the tiniest little toddler to an adult. And the new Gab N Go has been nothing but a blessing. The material is soft and easily washable, even in the washing machine. The sizing is adjustable and has allowed us to find the positioning that works best for Diva, who needs to be able to access and hold her iPad at a different angle than some children may due to her CP. Diva has yet to be able to get off the new and stronger attachments. Bonus — she can move her iPad to her side easily without damaging anything.
I recommend Gab N Go in every forum that I’m in — and it’s because it’s been a life-changing product for us. Diva has her voice ALWAYS. There is no forgetting it. There is no dropping it. She has it on the hammock. She has it in the car. She has it all around the house, no matter where she goes. She has it on a bicycle, on a swing, when completing a 10k. No one can ever take her voice from her. I repeat: no one can ever take her voice from her. No on can ever tell her that she’s talking too much and place it out of reach. No one can forget it when she’s in the bathroom. No one can say that it’s too hard to carry around on the playground. She always, always has her voice. We never miss an opportunity to model. She never misses an opportunity to say what’s on her mind. Gab N Go looks like a small thing, a small decision when compared to decisions about apps and vocabulary. But Gab N Go is the reason why she owns her voice. Gab N Go is the reason she can tell us to hurry up, that she hates a song, or that she needs french fries right now. Gab N Go is one of the most important pieces of her communication set-up, and I recommend everyone check them out.