Professionals at Courage Center have discovered many ways to adapt toys and play for children with disabilities. Adaptations can allow for discovery, increase a child’s opportunity to be successful, enable a child to become a full, active participant, address the child’s individual needs, promote and facilitate enjoyment, personal power and control and give a child a level of control of his/her surroundings. These can be used for all forms of play.
Adaptations can enhance the quality of a child’s life by helping develop self-confidence and the will and desire to continue and strive for new heights. Professionals and volunteers can observe and provide an opportunity for a more equal partnership by supporting and encouraging their initiations.
Busing adaptations doesn’t diminish the challenge for the child, but rather allowing that child access to the challenge. Play is as unique as each child so adaptations need to be individualized as well.
These unique adaptations require creativity. The methods to create adaptations are not always expensive and may only require the use of everyday products. When adaptations are necessary create the best possible adaptations for that particular child by first following suggestions below.
Stabilize toys and materials by attaching them to a surface. Use a C-clamp to attach the robot to a table or wheelchair tray. Put one side of a Velcro strip on the floor and the other side on the bottom. Use Velcro to make wrist and ankle bands on children and then attach pieces to the bands. Attach Velcro to the palm of a glove or mitten for easier grasping. Screw suction cups onto the bottom of robot. Place self-adhesive Velcro on each square of a board game and on the bottom of the LEGO pieces. Use anti-skid rug material, Rubbermaid shelf liner or Dycem under blocks to prevent sliding.
Make items bigger so they are easier to see. Make parts bigger so they are easier to grasp and handle. Screw dowel rods onto pieces for a larger handle. Attach foam hair curlers to handles. Make color copy indicators for finding things quicker and easier. Provide small easels for children with poor upper body strength. Attach drawing paper or instructions with sticky poster putty, two-sided tape or drafting tape (it won’t rip your paper).
Many stores can provide source materials for adaptation. Appliance shops can provide large packing cases. Get scrap materials, wire, tile and boards from building contractors, and tubing from contractors. Dry cleaners can provide shirt cardboard and wire hangers. Fabric shops may have bits of fabric, ribbons, tape, buttons and zippers. Boxes, reusable poster paper, Styrofoam pieces and plastic tubs can be obtained from stores. Paint, wallpaper and carpet samples can also be useful.
And always remember to ask other parents and teachers for their ideas and resources. These can be handy not just for children who enjoy robotics but for children in all modes of play. Have fun!