Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Review: The Puzzling Piece

*will be updated as I move through the Challenge*

I have tried to sign Rowan up for several charity type sites that state that they help special needs children get iPads. Some have mixed reviews, poor communication, or a way too long waiting list. I'm sure there are great ones out there, I just haven't found them in the last 4 months. If you know of any, please include them in the comments below because I know that I am not the only one with a need.

Before that, I tried insurance and state run special needs funds. They are at best, under funded and at worst, stupid. Let me explain the stupid part. An iPad runs about $600, give or take depending on make and model. It has many Apps to help kids, people. In Rowan's case it will help in just about every area of life, from speech (Touch Chat) to life skills to hand and eye coordination. It will help his mind, body, and behavior. The traditional communication device runs upward of $1,000 (and more) and does communication - period. It would help Rowan to a point. It would help with communication and that would make him less frustrated so his behavior may change. Insurance will not cover the cheaper, more helpful item. Stupid.

When charities and insurance failed I got to thinking and searching the internet. I was looking for some way to raise funds that left people who gave a sense that they could trust that the money was going exactly where they wanted it to go. I asked my son's therapist and she suggested The Puzzling Piece.

Their Story:

It all started with trying to help the school that was helping their child become more than Autism. Mrs.Winters is raising two sons, the oldest was diagnosed with Autism at age 3. She and her husband started with just one, hand blown, glass puzzle piece to use in an effort to raise funds for their son's school and awareness of an ever increasing condition. Boy, has their efforts paid off and grown. 

They give their proceeds to several charities as well as helping families directly.  For more go to a news story Here

How They Help:

They raise money for different Autism charities through selling their product on-line and at events around the country including the Autism Speaks Walks. They donate that money directly. They also have a fund raiser program that people and organizations can do for orders over 25 items. The products are deeply discounted and the organization keeps the difference. And then there is the iPad Challenge that allows parents, teachers and other special needs caregivers to sell 60 special items to "win" an iPad. And as a special touch that I really like, for every 12 sold after the first 60, the challenger is awarded a $100 iTunes gift card that can be used to buy applications.

The Process:

I went to the website and followed the directions by emailing Mrs. Winters. I received a wonderful welcome email. It contained a video with the information and tips on how to make a go of things. It offered a couple of print/sharable items and videos. I then shared my story in a blog that you can read Here which wasn't a suggestion. I printed out a flyer to share with others. I made posts to social networking sites. Now I wait. I will update this section (and the following ones) as I move along in the process. 

People who see my information go to the website, finds the tab marked iPad Challenge pieces, and places an order. They put the full name of the challenger on the form where indicated. They get their pieces and the challenger gets a point toward 60.

The Products And Shipping:

My girls have a birthday coming up so I bought them each an item as well as one for Rowan. Quick Note: Make sure you read the descriptions because some items do not come with the chains unless you pay more.

We ordered: The Necklace (a blue puzzle piece with silver shatter paint), The Key Chain (a heavy puzzle piece on a strong chain), Smiling Sam (a smile on a chain), and The Heart Of Gold (is what it sounds like with out the gold part)

Ordering, payment, and shipping was easy through PayPal and we received our order in good time.

The items are actually bigger and heavier then they look in the pictures except Sam. The girls loved theirs, and all seem to be well made and strong. I think it is worth the cost. Remember you are not just buying the product but also the portion of the iPad.


-I love that the "burden" doesn't fall on any one person. Your family and friends can all do as little or as much as they can. There is even a little side bit that says that even if someone doesn't want to buy a piece they can still donate. Every $20 donated in the challenger's name is a point even if no jewelry is bought.

Update from Mrs. Winters: "One thing (we do is) when people send me 20 dollars for a donation, I like to donate a piece to someone!"

-I also like that people know that they are giving money to get exactly what Rowan needs. They know what he is working toward and that there is a third party making sure their money is going for it.

-People like getting something they can hold, remember someone by, or to give someone and this program rewards both the buyer and the challenger. They get something for their money and they get to help.

-The program is simple, straight forward and the communication is great. You get updates on how you are doing weekly. You only have to tell people, show them the products, and make sure you take care of any orders you get personally (say through checks).

-Anyone is allowed to use the program not just the autistic community or just parents. That means my not just autistic son can do it as well.

-I love that so much of the money raised goes to the families in one form or another. Major plus there.

-Visit their FaceBook page for even more pros in the form of friends, giveaways, and tips!


-I would do the flyers a little differently but I over came that by simply adding Rowan's name to the flyer as "Challenger" so people would know. I would also include a description of the items on the flyer because one (at least) of the pendants doesn't come with a chain though one can be bought for it for a little more.

-I am a little concerned about the people who go to the site and do not understand that only certain products help toward the challenge. It is confusing to some and even more so to the computer challenged (like Grandma Maggie)

Update from Mrs. Winter: "I also get orders from people that don't understand to add a challengers name when they place the order, so I reach out and ask if they made the purchase  to help someone in the iPad challenge. That way we get the correct points to the challenger."

-If you are a bit secluded, as some special needs parents are, then it may be hard for you to reach the goal. I may have a blog but even I am concerned that I don't have enough people in my circles to reach the goal. I have received help in some form or another from some of my friends in the past so it can be hard to ask for more. But I am hoping that they will share it around a bit and their friends will help a bit.

-I didn't realize how hard it is to get to 5 or 10, let alone to 60.

- There is a limited number of items that are included in the challenge and that may limit the sales. I'll let you know how that goes.

OK... Like I said, I will update this more as I go along. I think over all, that this program is a great one. I am really hoping that it works out because Rowan really needs the device and sooner than later. 

Keep coming back and don't forget to leave your advice, thoughts, and comments below.
Check out my story so you can help Rowan find his voice!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the review. I will be using your tips and add a similar review to my blog.


I welcome your thoughts if they are shared with respect and that you understand that we may not agree but we can still share and exchange ideas.