Hi there,

There have been some discussions in the past about the "Special Needs" size merry muscles. I'm here to break the sad news that it no longer exists.

I have reached out to the manufacturer twice, from different email accounts, in hopes of ordering one.

In the first email, I did not specify my purpose. I was advised, by "Paige," only that it had been discontinued, and that I should order the MEAS instead (if you don't know, that is a much different, larger, industrialized object with so many buckles and hardwarey bits that it looks like some kind of torture device...) Of course that's a grand more expensive than the item I was looking for. "Grace" responded by sending me a link to a list of charities and other agencies that provide funding assistance for those with special needs. I asked, since the MEAS is often customized, if they could custom-make the older version. This time a person who did not sign his/her name told me, "there is not a large version of the infant style -- the hardware is necessary to hold heavier weights," basically implying that a product they manufactured and sold for several years is actually physically impossible. It was recommended that I buy a trampoline... with handlebars.

My second attempt, a few months later, from my work email -- this time Paige was the only employee involved in the email thread. Again she advised that it was no longer available. I replied, "It was a great product, surely we're not all out of luck?" She again recommended the MEAS. This time she was more honest about the reason for its discontinuance, stating, "Unfortunately, the model you inquired about was discontinued because parents were purchasing it for older children without disabilities, which is not what it was intended/designed for. For that reason, we now only offer the therapeutic model for older children."

Alright, well, I appreciate the more honest answer, I guess, but... seriously? I would think, as a business, the fact that my product was being purchased by a demographic I wasn't originally targeting would be GREAT news -- MORE sales, MORE money, without even trying! Surely the idea that non-disabled people (which, I might point out, is a LARGER group than disabled people!) were buying the product wasn't THAT offensive?

In any case, I then replied, asking, "Are you able and willing to confirm that this is literally the infant model exactly scaled up?" Not surprisingly, a couple of hours went by with no reply to that question, so I called them on the phone instead. I did not get to speak with Paige. Whoever I spoke with was less sure of the reason that the product was discontinued. I did not specify MY reason for wanting the product, but did steer the conversation toward children with sensory issues. (I never said I HAD such a child, only that the product would be good for them...) The woman I spoke with claimed to understand and even sympathize (she assumed...) but continued to try to push me toward the MEAS. Finally I asked her if I could make one myself. She told me I could not, as the product is patented. I asked for the patent number. She went from understanding and sympathizing to being noticeably angry. I responded accordingly...

Long story short, I found the patent myself -- US D268,232 -- which was issued in 1981 for a term of 14 years, thus expiring in 1995. The product is no longer patented. I have the tools ($10 goodwill sewing machine) and skills, and access to the materials (there's a Lowe's and a Joann right in the same plaza, 5 minutes from my house...) I would like to start producing a clone of the "Special Needs" Merry Muslces -- both for the original market and also for this community -- priced appropriately (I need to figure out the cost of materials -- haven't tallied that all up yet).

Where I am right now is trying to get my hands on one to duplicate. I have only been able to find three of them online, all owned by people with special needs children -- I reached out to all of them, asking, "if your child has outgrown this, and you would be willing to sell it, I would be extremely interested..." -- I got two replies from people whose children still use it, the third person has not replied to me...

so if ANYBODY out there in adisc land is able to provide me a good lead toward getting one for cloning, even "on loan," I would be more than ecstatic. I don't know what to offer: money is possible if it's reasonable... one of the clones is definitely up for offer to the person who leads me to the original specimen...