(This project allows someone to practice signing their name on their checks. It gives visual cues that they have signed in the correct place.)
(a communication/reading slant board for those with low tone/motor skills. This board holds communication books high and at a slant for communication)
Two weeks ago we went to an organization that provides special education for those with special needs in their school district. The students were all severely disabled with a range of disabilities, including those that are blind, have cerebral palsy, mental impairments and autism.
As part of our Assistive Technology class we had to talk with the teacher, and, if possible, some of the students and determine what low-tech (aka low cost) assistive technology they may need. Assistive technology is basically any device or tool that is adapted for use for people with disabilities. As an example, many of the things we use today were originally invented for people with disabilities. The 'lever' door handle that is so ubiquitous now used to be very expensive because it was for people with disabilities. But now we realize that senior and children find this type of door handle easier than the round knob handle. The rubber grip pads that you use to provide friction to open doors were designed for people with disabilities to make that task easier. It used to be expensive but now you can find that at any Walgreens or CVS.
So, anyway, my group chose a 21 year old male with cerebral palsy. We saw his instructor holding a cup with a straw so he could have a drink of water. We found out that every time he wants to drink she has to hold the cup for him. With further inquiry we discovered that he has the capability to grasp a cup (he's very spastic/high tone) if the handle is wide enough. We asked if he would like a cup and she emphatically said he would love a cup!
So, we glued a plastic water bottle to a plastic plate (for a wider base of support in case his motor planning is poor and he drops it instead of placing it on a table/desk). We also cut a hole in a plastic container, glued a thick plastic strip around the cut out (for grip) and place rubber on the bottom of the container (for grip). We placed a loooong straw in it. Now he has two cups that are his from which he can drink on his own.
Some of the other class projects include:
- picture sequencing books, for those who have trouble with the sequence of washing hands or brushing teeth
- picture books for activities, for those who are non-verbal but can point to activities in which they want to participate
- sensory cubes, for those who are learning to modulate tactile sensory input or who desire more tactile sensory input
- proprioception bags (filled with rice or beans) for those who need proprioceptive input
- a reading board, for those who are unable to hold a book but need a slanted board that will maintain the book's position
- a Dynavox bag holder (I thought this was VERY creative). My classmates bought a regular bag from Wal-mart, dyed it purple (the girl's favorite color), put a purple pressure strap on it, then lined it with that plastic material that school folders are made from (for structure and stiffness) and then lined that with foam (for softness). So, now the girl can carry her verbal assistive tech devices with her in a cute little bag!
(I have pics of everything, I'll post them when I get home).