A different approach to managing the derp…
Added on Sunday 13 September 15
Getting out and about can be a challenge sometimes. For me, the issues are mostly sensory. Take me somewhere new, on a bright day with a big crowd and I will only last a short period before I get spacey but in a bad way.
I get spaced out in a way which makes me feel guilty and frustrated. I spend all my energy fighting the derp.
One of the ways we have approached this problem was to look at ways to make those sort of things easier. We struck on the idea of trying a large buggy or pushchair.
After a bit of research and a lovely conversation with a supplier where we explained what we wanted we received an Advanced Mobility Freedom on loan to try the idea out. (This is a massive simplification of how I received it, but is close enough ;))
Here’s how it went….
The Advanced Mobility Freedom (AMF) is a large 3 wheel ‘jogger’ style pushchair designed for large children and small adults.
Like smaller pushchairs it has pockets, a retractable hood and a harness and the seating position is low and laid back. It also has a range of inserts and footrests in order to make it comfortable.
It’s designed for going off-road and has large 18" wheels all around and pneumatic tyres like a bike. It has twin brakes too. A handbrake for the front wheel and a foot brake at the back.
In the 18 months or so I have had it it’s had a few uses. My health taking a nose dive delayed it getting used as I have not been out much.
We took it on a visit to Winchester zoo and for a test walk around a local park. It’s also been used as a chair / place to nap a fair amount to. It’s a very comfy place to be. When it was setup in the lounge a few friend fell asleep in it without a problem.
Playing F1 on the Xbox strapped into the buggy wearing my full face mountain bike helmet is quite the experience ;)
I don’t generally have the space at home to leave it set up. From time to time it might come out for a few weeks but generally it comes out when we use it.
Now it’s proven itself to be useful I hope to use it more. It’s a very specific thing to have. I got it for a really good price (about £450) but I can’t argue it’s good value. Not yet anyway. However I expect it’s going to last forever so i am sure I will get the use out of it in he fullness of time. Our next planned trip is to the natural history museum.
Using the big pushchair a bit weird but not anywhere near as weird as you may imagine.
To be clear, the pushchair for me is a luxury because I have wonderful friends willing to try my crazy ideas for things to make me feel better.
Even then, it makes one of my friends very uncomfortable. It does draw some attention and the person doing the pushing really needs a significant weight advantage over me to make it work.
I’m not very aware of the social side of things really. But I am told that it takes some confidence however it becomes normal pretty quickly and no one really seems to care about it. When we went to the Zoo we were with a group of 10 people and I am told that helped.
When using it out and about I am told it handles pretty well. It comes with two sets of front wheels. One set that swivel and another set which is fixed. We have been using the swivel wheels everywhere.
At the zoo it handled everything pretty well. The wheels are large and it is super stable. It’s no wider than a regular wheelchair so it fits into most places surprisingly well considering its size.
Ignoring the social context for a bit, I really really like the buggy because it helps me in my battle to Enjoy the things I am doing.
In the buggy with the hood up and eat defenders on I have my own little sensory bubble which I can control. This is huge.
If we’re in a busy place (like the zoo) keeping the sensory stuff under control means I don’t waste energy simply trying to stay focused. I end up less spaced out and more engaged in what I am doing.
When we went to the zoo I used it for recharging. So I would have the hood down most of them time, and then we popped the hood up for short periods so I could get a break.
To achieve the same thing without the buggy would have involved slowing everyone else down.
This is another way in which I find the buggy helps. In the buggy I can move at the pace that everyone else is moving it and easily stay with a group.
When I am on foot and getting spaced I am spending 60% of my attention simply walking around and not falling over things or getting lost.
Beyond being tiring it’s also really really slow. I can end up feeling a little bit dragged along.
Another way it helps is by keeping me with the group. When i am struggling to recognise people staying with a group in a busy place is much harder that it sounds. The buggy neatly side steps the issue entirely.
While I really like the advanced mobility freedom it’s far from perfect. Here is my wish list for ways to make it better.
The relaxed angle is great for stability but I wish it had a mode where it was a bit more upright. Not much more, another 10 degrees at most. This would make it much easier to use as a chair and would make it shorter so I would use less space.
This buggy is really to big for me and to small for me at the same time! In the seat area it’s too big (meaning it wastes space and could be smaller!) and in the foot area we can’t really find the right size. If I fit the long footplate it’s too big for me. And the short footplate is a tad too small.
We did try the next model size down but it was just a little too tight and I was over the weight limit of 45kg.
I really wish advanced mobility made a middle sized option. Something a bit smaller in he seating area with with adjustability for he footrests.
In mitigation, the supplier did describe the freedom as a blank canvas. At least with it being a bit big we can do something with it. We may experiment with some extra foam inserts in the future to try and tune the fit a little more.
The hood is detachable but it’s hard to detach as it uses bolts. Making the hood easier to detach would really help make the pushchair more versatile.
I think it is early days for my buggy. It’s still an experiment. In the right situation it helps a huge amount.
I really wish it was more use at home. Perhaps in the future once we have experimented with the fitting more we will find the perfect place for it. My flat is not small but my lounge and bedroom don’t have the space for a chair this large. Luckily it’s fits in my storage space very easily.
It’s hard to evaluate whether it provides good value.
On the positive side the value it offers is in what it enables. After the zoo i went out for a meal out with a group. I was still spaced out but I made it to the meal. Without the buggy we probably would have left at lunchtime with me being very frustrated.
I think the value will be in the long tail. With the general concept proven and my health much improved I hope we will use it more soon.
Overall I am happy I brought it and glad I took the risk. I am grateful to my friends who let me experiment.
My final point is that while the buggy is unusual all of us have seen it enable amazing things and ultimately that’s the point. The buggy leads to better days out, happier people and more adventures. Which is awesome.