So back in May 2013, Ryan fell out of his crib - HARD! His crib was already at his lowest of the 3 settings so we completely dismantled the entire thing and put the mattress directly on the floor inside the crib. This bought us a lot of time while we figured out what to do next. Due to his low vision, global development delays and (possible) autism, Ryan has absolutely NO safety awareness. He needs to be kept in a enclosed space at night to keep him safe and in a way force him to sleep. I have no doubt that he would scoot all over his room looking for things to do if he was in a regular old bed. It would be a nightmare!
Ryan is a very active child! He wiggles and squirms and gets himself into the strangest of positions. He started getting into the habit of wedging his legs right up to his thigh in between his crib slats (see below - he was jammed in there so tightly I had to grab a couch cushion to hold up his leg while I figure out how to get him out - grabbed the camera too of course!):
In order to prevent that from happening again my clever Mom came up with this:
Pool noodles cut to size and split then wrapped in duct tape to match the rest of his room (high contrast colours to stimulate his vision).
But then things like this started happening again (yes he is totally and completely stuck - and yes I'm that horrible parent that quickly grabbed her camera to document these events - lol):
We knew he couldn't stay in his crib forever but we also knew as I mentioned above that Ryan has no safety awareness and that something needed to be done soon to keep him safe in the future and give us as his parents peace of mind.
We looked at tons of different options. A lot of the special needs beds out there are much too involved (making them pricer) than Ryan would need. Some of the simpler ones wouldn't work for him because he likes to stand and jump in bed and they just wouldn't be safe enough for him. There were 2 that we were considering but were still very much out of our price range! I mentioned our dilemma in the "Make It Tips for Special Needs" group on Facebook and with their help decided upon converting a bunk bed frame into a super sized crib. Luckily for us my amazingly talented (and patient) Dad offered up his carpentry skills - we told him our plan and set him loose!
This is the bunk bed we chose. It is from a store called JYSK and is called the "Jayden Bunk Bed".
My Dad started first by turning the top bunk end upside down and securing it to the bottom bunk end:
Once both ends were secured the side rails were installed:
Before the doors could be built the head and foot boards needed to be trimmed and sanded so the doors would sit flush with the rest of the frame:
We then needed to decide how many slats to put in each door panel. We took a look at 5 slats in the below picture but felt it wouldn't be airy enough for Ryan and would be frustrating for him to look through:
We ended up going with 3 slats in the middle. Here you can see the detail and hard work my Dad did on the doors as he had to inset the slats into the frame - talented man I tell you!
In order to keep the bi-fold style doors firm against the frame (we thought up of every possible solution) my Dad contacted a local magnet distributor. He explained what he was working on and he offered up a couple of magnets to 'test run'. The first were a touch too weak and the other's were a touch too strong! I mean really strong! It's actually so strong that my Dad had to reinforce the edge of the doors with steel for when we tugged on the doors to open them. The steel was also painted to match the frame of the bed.
Before you look at the next picture I need to explain it! While the bed was coming to the end of it's completion I decided to test Ryan in his crib by taking off the lattice. I wanted to see if he was still keen on getting his legs wedged in between the slats. Sure enough he was and one of the last times he did it he was really REALLY stuck. We're talking screams so loud I thought for sure he had broken his leg. The bruising that was caused wasn't pretty. Funny enough this happened just before I was heading over to my parents place for one last look at the bed before it was dismantled and due to be brought over within the next few days. I told my parents what happened and we realized that we had to come up with something to keep him even safer - oh this kid - he's lucky he's so cute! Lol... We thought of acrylic, some form of mesh, anything! We decided to keep costs nice and simple and used the lattice that had been on Ryan's crib.
By the way I need to add that my parents absolutely refused money at all for this bed - this was their gift to us and Ryan and my goodness we couldn't have asked for anything more amazing! We were then worried about the cost of a really good mattress for him and thankfully my wonderful in laws took care of that for us!
Next problem was that the lattice was white. It wasn't safe to paint and the brown colours that are out there in this type of material wouldn't match the frame. Since the white is SO white against a very dark brown frame I decided to work with that. To me it kind of resembled a hockey net - or at least I felt that I could make it look like a hockey net! So we went with a hockey theme - pretty sure Jeff was pretty pumped about that idea as my original idea was to make the bed look like a railway crossing and to have the "I think I can, I think I can..." (from the Little Engine That Could) saying above the bed.
Below is the final product before it goes in his room and get's "dressed":
This is all a VERY simplified version of all the work my Dad out into this bed and the combined thoughts of myself, Jeff and both my parents. As my Dad said "things have to be thought of 65 times when it comes to Ryan". He's right! I'm not sure how many times we thought we were coming to the end and then would say "oh, wait, nope that won't work or that has to be modified because it won't work for Ryan"!
Once my Dad was done the construction of the bed I went to work on "hockeying it up"! It was so fun! I created a goalie crease out of blue bath mats, sewed them together then added red Christmas ribbon around the edges. His old crib bumpers were cut and sewed to fit the new bed and vinyl covers were then made. Goalie pads were purchased at Target and the helmets came from the place my Dad volunteer's at as well as from one of my nephew's. Then I wanted a little something extra above the bed and thought "Ryan's Revenge" sounded like a cool hockey team name. I downloaded the Bauer hockey font and created a stencil in Word. My Dad then took that stencil and created the letters out of wood. This created an awesome sign above his bed - complete with a night light puck which is attached to the sign and looks as if it is cracking through the sign!
Here is the absolute final product! We LOVE this bed so much and are so incredibly appreciative of my Dad and all of his hard work. He put blood, sweat and I'm sure at times a few tears into this project. If you know my Dad he builds things to perfection - for his special and amazing little grandson this bed had to be and IS above and beyond perfection!