A few weeks ago, we got our new Firefly GoTo Seat in the mail and I was definitely more excited than Jack. Firefly is a brand belonging to Leckey, they design and manufacture products to support special needs family participation. I had been searching the internet for months in search of a chair just like this. Sadly, I gave up because I thought it didn't exist. Then, just a few days after I stopped my search someone posted the link to this seat on Facebook. I knew immediately that it was the seat that our family needed. I showed pictures to all his therapists and they all agreed, we needed this.
As most moms of special needs kids know, getting your child out and doing "normal" everyday activities can be hard. We usually have medical equipment on top of the regular kid/baby stuff that we need to lug around. Plus, we are always needing ways to accommodate our child to whatever activity the rest of the family is doing. Going to the grocery store is something every kid should get to do but up until recently Jack had not been to any grocery store. It's this great interactive time where the child and parent can look and converse with each other for a long period of time. And baby gets to see all the colours, smell all the smells, and hear all the sounds of a store. Often you will see mom chatting with baby about purchases and even letting their child pick out foods. Making sure Jack and other special needs children have these experiences is so important.
The GoTo Seat is from a company in Northern Ireland, James Leckey Design, so it was created for UK shopping carts, not American, so I was interested to see how it would do here. Our first trip, and many trips after that, was to Target. I noticed right away that Target's plastic carts make it a bit difficult to use this seat. The straps are meant to be used between metal bars and Target's bars have very small openings, making it impossible to slip the straps in between the bars. I did use the top strap and wrap it around the top of the seat and, even though I was nervous, it really did work. This seat is made for shopping carts so it slips in so nice as soon as you place it. Even though I didn't use all the straps, it worked. On a side note, when I told the company of this issue they jumped to help by offering strap extensions. I don't feel like I need them, but somebody else may. The pictures below help you see what I mean.
While I was at Target, I thought I would try out the kid seats that they offer. We didn't even make it out of the parking lot. First, I didn't like that Jack was facing away from me and second, it was not nearly as supportive. I doubt he would have fallen out but he looks just so uncomfortable.
Our next trip was to BJ's wholesale club. Their carts are made of metal so no issues there. I did have to adjust the straps because of the difference between the Target cart and this cart but it only took a minute or so. And again, the seat is made for a shopping cart so not only does it fit nicely in the cart, it also gives great support to a kid sitting in it. Shopping carts seats generally lean back slightly and this is also makes the seat a better experience.
Now, I decided to see what else our new seat could do. I saw many British families attaching them to swings and i couldn't wait to try ours. Well, no such luck. Our American "bucket seat", which is generally made of rubber, was too small for the seat to fit. British toddler swings are made of wood and are not sold here in the U.S., but I suppose if you are handy you could build one.
I also tried fitting the GoTo Seat into one of those restaurant wooden highchairs. The high chair was also too small. It's upsetting a little bit but if the GoTo Seat was bendable and flimsy and fit in the highchair it wouldn't be as supportive as it needs to be. On that note, I should tell you that the back of the GoTo seat is very hard and only the side flaps are movable. This gives the low-tone child sitting in the seat much more support; no slouching allowed.
Next, we tried it out with our kitchen chair and also our wagon. Both sit straight up with no slant. It still worked well but not as well as the shopping cart with the slight slant. It may have been just Jack moving around or how I had him strapped, but he kept leaning forward. It seems to me that it may be more difficult for your child to sit up perfectly straight with this chair but it will simultaneously be strengthening their core.
And lastly, we tried it out at The King of Prussia Mall. They have these awesome shopping carts you can rent that look like a mini car with a shopping bag attached to the back. We spent almost the entire day there and Jack had a blast "driving" around the mall. We even stopped to get our picture taken with Santa. I imagine there are other places like this shopping car that the GoTo seat could be used. Off the top of my head, I was thinking an amusement ride that goes really slow and has a high back, or a toy ride-on train that also has a high back. The possibilities are endless. All I know is that I couldn't be happier that my son was able to have all of these experiences.
Does your child have an autism diagnosis?