Thursday, 25 June 2009
If you've been following the blogs at all, you'll know that we have a Vacation Home in Orlando, Florida. Its just 3 minutes away from Disney world, has its own pool and jacuzzi and is fully disabled accessible.
After we'd been out there a couple of times we realised how much the boys' health was benefiting, so we decided it would be great to have somewhere totally suitable that we could go. I know a lot of houses say they are disabled friendly, but that generally means they are all on one level. We needed more, we needed ramped access to all the doors, including the garage, wider interior doors, a wheelchair height breakfast bar, wheel under sinks, wheel in showers, bath rails and an accessible pool. (Not too much to ask then!)
It was actually far simpler to buy off plan than it was to adapt something already built, so that's what we did. We couldn't believe the prices of property in Florida at the time. So we ended up with a six bed four bath house with pool and jacuzzi for less than a one bed flat in London would cost. If we owned something of a similar in size in London, we could probably sell it and, like, buy our own Caribbean island or something.
So we started with a blank canvas. The builders were brilliant, they didn't actually charge us extra for most of the adaptations, their view was that, hey, were building the doorways/breakfast bar/sink units anyway, it wasn't costing them extra to adapt them, so they didn't charge us, no questions, no argument about costings, nothing.
This alone was surprising as it is so different to what we were used to. When we were getting Aaron's bedroom adapted, we were so thoroughly questioned about our finances and requirements, we felt like we'd been interrogated. The CIA should be told about the 'disabled grant facility officers' in London. Then again, judging by the rigorous questioning procedure, perhaps they do, perhaps they trained them. On the other hand, maybe the grant officers are just a bunch of jobsworths with CIA asperations, protecting our great nation should some family get a wheelchair ramp or ceiling track hoist they don't actually need...god forbid!
So anyway, Orlando...they built the house and we decorated with kids in mind. We made it bright and colourful, I painted big murals all over the walls,and we added all the essentials like a 51" TV, a playstation 2 with games and a full size pool table (essentials according to Dave that is!) it's a beautiful home. We added a pool hoist and bought a great all in one shower/toileting chair. The first time we ever stayed there was like a dream. Okay so we spent alot of the time painting and buying furniture, but with the help of the kids, we got it just right. We have had some brilliant times there as a family.
We've had quite a few wish children come and stay so far, we've donated weeks to charity auctions and we try to help at least a couple of families go and stay there free of charge each year. This is something we want to do much more of in conjunction with the charity in the future.
If you would like help to arrange a stay there, then go to the web-site on www.yourdreamvillas.com and e-mail us through the site, or contact me via www.heavensspecialchild.co.uk.
Take care, Sal x