Benjamin was born in February of 2002 with congenital birth defects and a left hand anomaly. At the age of 4, he was diagnosed with high functioning Autism. He is challenged daily, but he learned to overcome any obstacle. Autism affects his social skills significantly.
As he got older and had to face some of his peers who treated him unkindly and found himself surrounded by bullies who teased him relentlessly for his lack of fingers as well as his limited social skills – he didn’t know what to do. The teasing at school caused his self esteem to plummet and depression set in. He has struggled to advocate for himself and stop the bullying that he faces from his peers but was feeling very defeated and withdrew into himself.
In December of 2013, a friend posted a video of a young boy and his father who had created a 3d printed Mechanical hand, onto Ben’s Mother’s Facebook page.
Ben watched the video and realized that he wasn’t alone – there were other children just like him that have been born with no fingers…and someone had designed a hand using a 3d printer to create a tool for them to be able to do simple things that most people with two hands take for granted every day.
They noticed that one of the creators of the hand, Ivan Owen, lived just 5 hours away from them and so they contacted him and he invited them to his home in Bellingham, WA so he could print out the parts and then teach them how to assemble and maintain a hand for Ben.
When Ben first arrived, he was shy and reserved but as he began working on his very own e-NABLE hand – his eyes lit up, he was laughing, smiling and eager to help make his new fingers.
After returning home with his family, his mother reports that his new e-NABLE hand was instrumental in his SLP therapy in teaching him to communicate with his peers. Ben uses his hand to start a positive conversation with his classmates and other individuals that are curious and the new hand has helped him tremendously with growing stronger social skills and boosting his confidence in himself.
While the E-Nable group is excited about creating these tools for people – it is also our goal to guide and teach parents and care givers of the recipients of these devices how to assemble and maintain them on their own. When a child is able to be a part of the process of creating their very own hand – it helps them to feel like it is more of a part of them and they are more likely to use the device.
It is very important that someone in the recipient’s life, is able to keep it in good working order, fix it when it breaks, watch for safety concerns, work with a medical professional and make sure that the child who is wearing it – understands it’s limitations.
More kids like Ben are smiling today – because of the kindness of strangers who want to help make a difference.
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The e-NABLE group is working hard on creating these 3D printed hands for other children all over the globe and teaching parents how to make and assemble them on their own and we will share more stories as they come to life!
If you are in need of a device for yourself, your child or someone you know or you would like to volunteer to print devices for those in need – please visit our “Get Involved” page and fill out our intake form.
If you do not have a 3D printer but would like to help us to continue to provide free hands for children in need – please visit our donations page and remember that even small donations go a long way and your pocket change can help change someone’s day!