Custom ‘Pals’ Encourage Children with Bone Anchored Hearing Systems (BAHS)

Weesie Pals are custom stuffed animals that can be made to have a little ear and stuffed toy bone anchored hearing device. Weesie Pals are created by Erin Wozniak who was inspired by her daughter Elyse. Elyse, who’s nickname is Weesie, was born with left-side Microtia and Atresia, meaning her ear did not fully develop. Elyse, now two years old, wears a Ponto Pro on a softband.

“When Elyse was an infant, I wanted her to have some type of toy that she could identify with and a way to reinforce her wearing the Bone Anchored Hearing System (BAHS). Also, you can take the device off of the stuffed animal and put it on anything– even someone else. Even mommy can wear it!”

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When Erin made the first Weesie Pal, a mouse, Elyse loved it and wouldn’t put it down. As an artist and art teacher, Erin is always making things but oil painting and drawing are her expertise. When it came to sewing, she taught herself. She’s a quick study, because now there are a variety of options.

“I thought, ‘I bet other little kids and families would like this too.’ So I came up with more animal designs.” Erin has now been selling Weesie Pals and other Wozooly stuffed animals on Facebook for about a year. About two months ago, she opened the Wozooly Etsy store.

Facebook community and group founders, like Melissa Tumblin of Ear Community, helped spread the word.

“When I started I only had three animals, a mouse, lamb and a cat. Every other animal came from request,” Erin explained. “The monster, which was the last one that I designed, was requested for a couple of reasons. The mom wanted something for her son with sensory issues. And, he liked monsters, so I created a monster and gave it different textures.”

Erin says that there’s a possibility to expand to other medical devices, but there are a lot of different toy products that are already on the market for most other segments. “When it comes to bone anchored hearing devices, there isn’t much out there that caters to children with BAHSs,” Erin explained.

In addition to the Etsy store, Weesie Pals and other Wozooly stuffed animals are offered through Janet Chao of the Prosthetics Research Lab. Janet offers products that have anything to do with prosthetics, and 10% of all profits support her research, which includes prosthetics and 3D printing technology.

Here’s where you can find Wozooly and Weesie Pals on Etsy. Here’s Erin’s Facebook page for the pals.

Does your child wear a Bone Anchored Hearing System? How have you encouraged them to wear their device? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

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