THE HIDDEN TRUTH
With the number of special needs children and adults ever growing, you would think that us, as a community, would know how to deal when coming face to face with somebody with special needs, but the sad truth of it is, we just don’t.
Our reactions and behaviours aren’t always intentional, we are mostly a compassionate nation of people that want to have great relationships with people of all shapes and sizes.
As a parent of a child with special needs, with no formal, recognisable diagnosis, we have to live day to day knowing only that my daughter has a mental, emotional and educational age much younger than her actual age.
Although this helps us in many situations, there are a lot of other situations that cause us a lot of upset and problems, that I would like to explain here, in the hope of giving you a little more insight in to the lives of people with special needs and their families.
Lily is 14 years old, soon to be 15 in May. As you can see by the photo, she is quite tall – she measures at around 5ft 5ins tall, taller than me and my partner (pictured).
As well as that, she wears a size 12 – 14 in adults clothing, which in affect would make her appear to others surrounding her, as a fully grown young lady/woman.
Even when people that don’t know Lily and speak to her, would think that she is quite grown up for her age. Over the years she has perfected the art of masking the way she acts around certain people, in certain places – she adapts to ages around her and it’s not until she’s around children of approximately 9/10 years old do her true colours show.
Not only does she have problems understanding what is appropriate to say in public places, but she can be extremely vulnerable around children of her physical age.
You may wonder why I am telling you all this on a personalised gifts website, when it has no bearing on my printing or how I work in any way, shape or form, but I will tell you why.
It has came to the stage when we go out as a family, with her two younger brothers aged 7 and 9 years old that Lily gets left out a lot.
When they are given a sweet in shops or at barbers, Lily never gets acknowledged, this isn’t a reflection on the business owners or their staff, they aren’t supposed to know, she doesn’t have a sign above her head stating that she has special needs and struggles to cope, but that doesn’t make things any easier when she asks why she gets left out and it doesn’t make it any easier on us having to explain it to her.
I think that we have an explanation down to a tee, we explain very gently to her that people aren’t supposed to know that she would like one and although she is still a child, she has the body of an adult which makes it very difficult for people to gauge how old she is. Also people wouldn’t want to risk upsetting or offending her if they offered her a lollipop.
If I showed you this picture of Lily, you may see a slightly different side to her, younger and more vulnerable – she sucks her thumb all the time and has done since she was a tiny baby. Now I’m not stating that people of her age and size that suck their thumbs have special needs, because that would be untrue, but I am saying it can be an indicator, especially so, in Lily’s case.
I guess there are other signs, but unless she is actually speaking to or around you, this child looks like any other child of her age.
I want to take back to Haloween, Lily is 13 years old, every year her Nan takes Lily and her brothers trick or treating. Only around the local area, but it’s a tradition the kids look forward to. That was until last year, Lily didn’t want to go and we couldn’t work out why she was so adament that she didn’t want to join in the fun this year.
We eventually found out and I’ll be the first to admit that my heart broke – it was nobody’s fault, it’s just the way life is, but it didn’t stop my heart breaking nonetheless.
As the children knocked on the participating neighbours doors and said their trick or treats, the boys were offered a plethora or sweets, giving pennies and tiny little toys. Lily was given nothing, I know the reason why, it’s completely innocent, the people who answered their doors thought that Lily was chaperoning her brothers on their trick or treating trip – they thought that she was the adult and why wouldn’t they?
When they visited other houses, houses where you could take a sweet yourself then Lily was included, but I think the experience as a whole turned very sour for my 9 year old in the body of a full grown woman.
This probably sounds like a rant, like I’m throwing my toys out of the pram because my child isn’t being treated accordingly, when others don’t know anything about my child.
I can promise you this isn’t the case, this is me offering you, a fresh perspective – a view from the inside, if you like.
I think some publicity is better than no publicity, the more people know about conditions, diseases, special needs and disorders can only be useful, it takes away the stigma that some people have no choice to live with.
These days if we say that our child has autism, ADHD or even depression, we get understanding, we get support and a the people around us even have some knowledge. If our children are physically disabled or have down syndrome, it’s visible and not that they should be treated differently, they can and should be treated accordingly. We know that a child with a leg in plaster will have difficulty moving around, we know that a child with a hearing aid in their ear will have some kind of hearing impairment and we know that a person walking around with a guide dog is blind – so we make provisions, we hold a door, we speak clearly or clear a path for the visually impaired to move around easily.
My main message to you all, would be please be mindful of the hidden disabilities, the unseen special needs, the emotional problems behind them and this goes without saying about anybody – if somebody looks like they need something that you can give them then please do it, even just a smile, they’re the same in every language.
Please feel free to comment or share this blog, not only to spread awareness, but to tell me your experiences and thoughts. It’s a subject so close to my heart and I would love to spread even a little awareness.
If it seems to good to be true, then it probably is too good to be true…
Have you ever then filtered those results to find the lowest price inclusive of postage?
It’s brilliant when you get a bargain, finding a variation of what you’re looking for at half the price and they give you free postage too, what can be better?
So where am I going with this?
This lady seemed happy with the price and terms at the time and we left it that she would be back to order in around about a week.
When following up with the customer a week later to confirm that she still wanted to order I was met with the dreaded words… “Thank you, but I’ve found it cheaper somewhere else.”
That’s ok with me, I know that The Fallen Angel Gallery isn’t the cheapest personalised gift specialist, I like to be competitive, but I also know that I charge my worth, I refuse to work for free, because after all I’m a business woman, not a charity.
This by no means is a dig or an insult to the customer, in fact our conversation resonated with me, it made me think, but it didn’t make me question myself – that said I know that it is human instinct to shop around, look for the best bargain and it’s just good sense to not spend double the money on something that you can get somewhere else for a fraction of the price.
That said it’s equally as important to know what you’re paying for, why are you paying more? What can the other company offer you that this company doesn’t or indeed what can The Fallen Angel Gallery offer you that perhaps the other company doesn’t.
A hairdresser isn’t always a Barber…
Obviously big companies have the finances to employ a large number of staff members, you can have Johnny designing, Stan printing, an apprentice packaging your orders and you need never need to speak to anyone regarding your order.
But, what happens if you have a problem? What happens if you do need to speak to somebody, you get to call a 0300 number, press option 3, 1, 5, 6 and sit back and hope that you manage to get through to the right person, in the case that you don’t you can always be transferred to the right department… After 25 minutes of telling the wrong person your problem.
Also it’s equally important to remember that a lot of major printing companies either add the exact photo you upload to your order, they don’t tweak it, you’re not going to send away a blurry old photo and get something back that looks like a professional has taken it, they won’t magically turn a landscape photo into a portrait photo to fit your product.
Although I can’t promise to do the same, I can promise I’ll try, I can guarantee a human being is handling your photo, not just at the printing process, but at the design process too. The owner of the company is printing/quality controlling your products, meaning that you, as customers, as the most important thing.
Big companies can offer you heavily discounted items, they can most of the time offer free postage, but can they offer you the customer service to go with it? Maybe, maybe not.
A ‘Graphic Designer’ and a Graphic Designer…
A mug designed with no graphic design skills VS a mug designed using graphic design techniques
When you buy a mug you aren’t just paying for the mug, the postage, the paper and the ink, you need to break it down into small segments and find out exactly what you’re paying for and I’ll tell you why…
- Mug – What mugs do your suppliers use? Are they pure white? Are they cheaper because they’re not coated evenly or have blemishes? Are they dishwasher proof?
- Ink – What ink does your supplier use? The price of the ink usually is a good indicator as to whether your images/photos will come out bright, vibrant and most importantly if they will fade sooner rather than later.
- Paper – Many people don’t think to take this into consideration, are your printing company using cheap paper to print your images/photos on? Are they experienced enough to be printing on the right side of the paper? Believe me this happens… A lot!
- Design – Is the person or company experienced in graphic design? Will they enhance/change your photo to look the best it can be?
- Equipment – Are the company you are buying from using good, quality equipment? A lot of new printers will buy cheap equipment imported from China, these presses are notorious for uneven heat plates that will ruin any prints undertaken in them.
- Printing – Low quality equipment can cause faded prints, as well as other problems. Also an inexperienced printer may not have the right software and settings attached to their printer for sublimation printing, which will change the appearance of the whole photo and can even cause a complete colour shift in certain tones!
Equipment and experience costs more money…
When you pay more there’s always a reason for it, you’re paying for a product, a skill and of course postage. You’re paying for a company to make you an amazing photo gift using high quality equipment and consumables – you’re paying for a skill that not everyone possesses and your paying for the person who is making it’s time.
You’re paying for their premises rent, you’re paying for their electricity, you’re paying for the blank product, ink, paper, packaging and postage costs,
This is all fair and should always be expected with small companies that cannot afford to buy in large quantities of stock. If you are buying from a small business and the prices are cheap then the chances are, they are unregistered companies, using very cheap stock, skimping on quality ink/paper/equipment/skills and maybe not even insured!
No insurance can be a very big problem if there was a defect on a product, imagine your sitting on your sofa, cuddling your little one while taking a sip of your boiling hot coffee and that mug breaks in half spilling that coffee all over your child and scolding them.
Ok, it’s not likely to happen, but it’s not impossible and if you need to hold a company liable you at least want them to be insured.
A close up of a low quality image added to a photo rock slate 1 without correction and with.
Above is an example of poor graphic design, poor printing and most importantly use of the wrong printing press.
The first image has been added to the slate without alignment, it has also been printed at the wrong temperature and time in a flat press. There is no image adjustments with this low quality image, it is printed as it was sent.
How can i tell it’s been printed with a flat press? If you look at the uneven edges around the slate, they are still white, this is the sublimation coating showing through, because a flat press cannot reach in the grooves to transfer the ink.
In the second photo you cannot see any white parts in the grooves around the edge of the slate, this is because it’s been printed in a 3d heat press, using a vacuum suction to pull the image into as many crevices as possible, meaning that you will not get a half printed slate. The photo has also been aligned as centrally as possible, to get as much of the child in the focal point as possible, the contrast and brightness has been adjusted and the image in general has been sharpened because it is old and has a slight blur.
I charge around about £7 more to print these photo slates than a lot of my competitors, that £7 pays towards the cost of a 3d heat press, the cost of running it and for my time when making adjustments to low quality photos – is it still worth going elsewhere because it’s cheaper?
Don’t just take my word for it, listen to the customers, the people who pay me, the people who unwrap their orders, the people that are still using their mugs, admiring their slates and buying from The Fallen Angel Gallery over a year later.
When asked why my regular customers buy from me, this was their response…
You always get items out as quickly as you can. You’re always honest if you think a certain design won’t work where as other people don’t.Amanda Liddell
The Best Personalised Christmas Gifts 2018
In true Fallen Angel Gallery style, your thoughts and opinions count. If you would love to suggest a new design or product, then I want to here it. Leave a comment below, you’ll always get a reply.
Everybody loves a personalised mug, but adding photos to these high quality, chunky white mugs really take them to a while new level!
They’re also the perfect gift for when you want to treat someone, but don’t know what to get them – whether it be for tea, coffee or hot chocolate we all use mugs for something.
Nothing is more beautiful than having pictures of the people that you love, past and present, hanging from your tree.
These personalised Christmas decorations are so hard wearing that you can use them time and time again, year after year – they’ll never fade, just as your memories won’t.
Photo Slates are a unique and stunning way to display your most favourite memories, they’re high in quality, print exceptionally well and make your photos look a million dollars!
Used to remember celebrations such as weddings, christenings and births, they also make beautiful, classy memorial gifts to be treasured forever.
The Fallen Angel Gallery doesn’t just put photos on things to make them look pretty, sometimes a name and a unique design is all you need!
The personalised tablet case is sturdy and hard wearing, with a printable faux leather area.
They are also available in a range of sizes.
Both adults and children alike are massive fans of the photo messenger bag and what better subject to have on your bag than a picture of your beloved pet!
That’s just one example of what you can put on your bag, you really can have anything you like!
The Fallen Angel Gallery recommend these large messenger bags for all ages, but especially for teenagers.
The Fallen Angel Gallery don’t believe that puzzles are just to be played with, although they are pretty good fun to play with too!
Many customers buy these jigsaws are a novelty keepsake to display in their homes, thinking outside of the box some customers even add special messages, ask questions and even make announcements on them!
Everybody has at least one special photo that means the world to them, whether it’s a family photo, a photo of your children or your favourite pet.
Photo frames all over the wall are so 90s, these mini photo slates are the perfect alternative and they also come with two hard plastic stands to enable you to showcase your masterpiece.
This is just one in a series of polar bear Christmas decorations, from first Christmas as a married couple to your baby’s first Christmas or even just to add a name to, these beautiful ceramic decorations are so versatile!
High quality, bright and vibrant, these decorations have such a great customer fan base, that they couldn’t not be added to The Fallen Angel Gallery’s best personalised Christmas gifts list!
The Fallen Angel Gallery mermaid cushions are by far the child customer’s favourite item!
Bright, fun and vibrant, they keep children amused for hours and the best bit about it is they can have their name added, nobody loves personalised gifts more than children, they love to see their name/photo on things and with 100% child satisfaction, I think that speaks for itself.
For those of us that prefer the more traditional cushion, then The Fallen Angel Gallery cushion collection should be number one on your list!
Customers all over the world adore these personalised cushions, not only for their design, but for their style too!
They’re super soft to feel, a large 40cm square in size and best of all hard wearing!
With the option of Christmas payment plans, I like to think that your Christmas can be covered in as little as a few simple emails.