Different Types of Adaptive Switches for Individuals With Disabilities

Different Types of Adaptive Switches for Individuals With Disabilities

What Are Adaptive Switches?

An adaptive switch is an access device that allows people with movement-limiting disabilities to use technology and operate electronic devices. Instead of the person performing complex actions such as turning a knob, adaptive switches will offer easier movement solutions, such as pressing a button. It’s possible to have a switch adapter for toys, home appliances, voice-output communication tools, computers and more.

Adaptive switches for special needs provide an interface between the technology and the person with the disability. They modify the normal switch to give the person access, and they’re designed to suit the person’s unique ability. When students with disabilities use such switches, they can work more independently and participate actively at home, at school or in their neighborhood.

Enabling Devices approaches switch-adapted devices by either modifying existing products to work with an external capability switch or creating a new product with a switch-enabled jack connection. Adaptive switches may be categorized by the way they’re used, their unique features, the response required to create the switch action and the kind of assistance they provide. For example, some activate with gentle pressure applied to a button, while others respond to the wearer’s head movements or small physical gestures such as a twitch of the forehead or the blink of an eye.

Some of the categories of adaptive switches and assistive technology available today include the following:

How to Choose the right switch micrographic

Hand, Finger and Body Switches

Hand, finger and body switches allow people with limited movement to access devices with the slightest movement of a finger, wrist, foot or other part of the body. Some work by gentle squeezing, while others respond to the push of a button.

The joystick is one of the most popular hand switches because it can be mounted on the tip of an armrest and used to activate more than one type of device by moving the joystick in different directions. A single joystick may be used to activate a phone, tablet, TV or an array of Bluetooth-enabled devices, for example.

Subtle Movement and Sound Activated Switches

Wearable switches are ideal for those who need regular assistance communicating, giving feedback or interacting with other objects. Their wearable design keeps them close and convenient, and different devices work with different inputs.

People with movement limitations or poor extremity control have a number of switch choices that fit their abilities.

An individual with gross and fine motor skill issues can still use a movement-based switch that operates with a subtle signal such as a wrinkling forehead or turn of the wrist. These switches are usually mounted in a position close to the user, such as on a wheelchair mount, or wearable switches, such as a twitch switch or a finger switch that is held in the hand. There is also a movement sensor switch that picks up even the tiniest movements, enabling activation by people with even the most severe physical challenges.

Sound-activated switches help people with poor motor control use their voice or any distinct sound to operate the switch. Simply saying “ahhh” can make the switch activate the associated device.

Optical switches are activated by eye movement. The switch is open until the user blinks. As soon as the user blinks, it interrupts with an infrared beam, and the switch is closed and the device turns on.

Light, Music and Vibration Switches

Light, Music and Vibration Switches

Light, music and vibration switches are designed to stimulate and appeal to those who thrive on reward-based engagement or need encouragement to use their adaptive switch. Some devices focus on creating an auditory experience with music or sounds, while others use bright or blinking lights for visual engagement or to make the target easier for those with visual impairment to find.

Pillow Switches

Pillow switches have a switch covered in soft, pliable foam encased in a removable bag for easy washing. When the soft surface is pressed, it gives tactile feedback and an audible click. The switch is extremely responsive and can be activated by the head, shoulders, arms or hands, making it a good choice for users with limited movement in their limbs or head. Some pillow switches have mounting versions for wheelchair users with limited dexterity.

Plate Switches

Plate switches have a large activation surface suitable for users with motor disabilities who can’t use small buttons and controls on most adapted devices. They usually have a very large button with a very thin top, ergonomically designed to respond to the gentlest touch.

Saucer Switches

Saucer switches are ability switches designed specifically for those who are not able to sustain or control the wrist or hand movements required for activating a traditional plate switch. Saucer switches are activated with just a light touch or can be rolled up on, and some can be angled to accommodate varying abilities.

Mouth (Sip and Puff) Switches

Mouth (sip and puff) switches are equipped with a mouthpiece that helps the user — typically those with severe physical impairments — issue commands by a sip or a puff. The sip and puff design lets the user control two devices with a single switch. The negative pressure produced by a sip and the positive pressure created by a puff causes the switch to activate the attached devices.

Textured Switches

Textured switches are designed with visual and tactile stimulation in mind, featuring elements like raised bumps or lines, stretchy textures and more. Users with a range of needs can enjoy a somatosensory experience with a textured device.

Wheelchair and Bedside Switches

Wheelchair and bedside switches attach to a wheelchair’s armrest or the user’s bed or bedside table. Some switches are activated by a gentle touch of the fingers, while others are activated by shoulder movement, head movement, sound or vibration.

Gumballs and Jumbos

Gumball and Jumbo switches are for individuals with limited motor skills or targeting abilities that need a simpler and more comfortable switch design. Some are used with communication devices, while others provide a somatosensory experience with a tactile design. The wide activation surface responds to gentle touch, while a compatible latch timer can help them accommodate users with uncontrolled body movements.

What Can Adaptive Switches Be Used For?

Adaptive switches can be used to operate a wide variety of devices. They help people with limited motor skills use devices with buttons or integrated switches that are inaccessible to them.

Examples of uses for adaptive switches include switch-adapted toys, appliances, lights, TVs, computers and learning devices, or independently controlling a wheelchair. Many also use them for initiating speech generation or providing simple feedback for those with speech difficulties.

Adaptive switches help users develop and build skills, including:

  • Swiping, reaching and grasping
  • Increased sensory or tactile awareness
  • Fine motor skill development
  • Increased visual perception

How Do I Choose the Right Adaptive Switch?

When you need to select an adaptive switch for your loved one, here are some of the vital factors to consider:

  • Actions needed to use the switch: The person using the switch shouldn’t experience strain or fatigue while using it.
  • The part of the body the person will use: Choose a switch that the user will operate with any of their unique abilities.
  • Range of motion: If the person’s range of motion is small, the switch must be activated with a simple and short movement.

What are the Benefits of Adaptive Switches?

Adaptive switches help people living with limited movement to enjoy the following benefits:

  • Greater independence and improved self-esteem
  • Improved communication with caregivers
  • Enhanced brain development for children
  • Better access to technology and computers
  • Ability to use their limited abilities to complete learning tasks

Shop Adaptive Switches Online at Enabling Devices

Browse our extensive range of adaptive switches designed to help children and adults use and activate a wide range of devices. We may also be able to adjust some of our switches for specific needs. Contact us today for more details about selecting adaptive switches, or check out our comparison chart to find the right adaptive switch.

Shop Adaptive Switches Online at Enabling Devices

6 Ideas for Self-Care as a Caregiver: Why It Matters and How to Take Care of Yourself

6 Ideas for Self-Care as a Caregiver: Why It Matters and How to Take Care of Yourself

Caregiving can be one of the most rewarding jobs you do. As a devoted caregiver of a child or adult with functional needs (commonly referred to as special needs) you can have many positive experiences from caregiving. You can feel:

  • Satisfied from providing excellent care to your child or adult family member.
  • Pleased about giving back to someone you care for.
  • A sense of purpose and meaning in your life from caring for someone else.
  • Pride and personal growth from work you value.

But caregiving is also tremendously demanding. In your caregiving role you may be responsible for everything from preparing meals and administering medications, to bathing, dressing and toileting.

As you tend to your family member’s needs, it’s vital to pay attention to your own needs as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes many potential physical, mental and emotional caregiving health effects. Implementing self-care practices is a proven way to keep your health in check — and keep doing the job you love.

Follow our six-step caregiver self-care checklist to stay healthy and feel supported, cared for and empowered.

1. Manage Your Physical Health

Caregivers advocate for their family member’s health at doctor’s appointments. Are you an advocate for your own physical health? Addressing your medical concerns enables you to stay healthy so that you can care for your family.

Make sure daily exercise is built into your routine, whether you go to the gym, walk around your neighborhood or do yardwork. Regular exercise — regardless of its intensity — can help you:

  • Become more flexible.
  • Improve your balance.
  • Increase your strength.
  • Enhance your endurance.
  • Feel more energetic.
  • Be alert.
  • Get better sleep.

When you feel sick, don’t wait. Make an appointment to visit your doctor. A trusted adult can care for your family member while you heal. And you will prevent other family members from getting sick.

2. Have Your Own Hobbies and Interests

Some caregivers spend a lot of time caring for their family member and little to no time on hobbies or activities they enjoy. A healthy approach to time management and mental health means establishing a balance between your family member’s well-being and your own.

If you’re a caregiver, aim to divide your time and energy between yourself and your child or adult family member. As you provide care, take the time to participate in your hobbies and interests. Doing something you enjoy can help boost your mental health.

Positive caregiver hobbies and interests include:

  • Keeping in touch with your friends.
  • Reading.
  • Cooking new recipes or favorite dishes.
  • Knitting and crocheting.
  • Doing gardening and yardwork.
  • Playing a musical instrument.
  • Painting and drawing pictures.

3. Set Reasonable Expectations and Barriers

Caregivers can put too much emphasis on perfection. If you find the following statements ring true for you, you may need to reconsider your expectations:

  • You think you are responsible for your family member’s health.
  • You believe you are the only person who can take care of this child or adult.
  • You rarely consider or address your own needs.
  • You think it would be selfish to put your needs first.

These thought patterns can impact your mental health. Since many factors are out of your control, it’s unrealistic to think that you can guarantee a family member’s well-being. Unrealistic expectations, beliefs and attitudes can prevent you from taking good care of yourself.

Set Reasonable Expectations and Barriers

Managing and setting your expectations can lower your stress and make you a better caregiver. You can begin adjusting your mindset by:

  • Acknowledging your patterns and correcting them.
  • Engaging in positive self-talk if you’re being hard on yourself.
  • Taking care of your needs to keep your physical and mental health in check.

4. Take a Break

Caregiving can be a 24/7 job, yet caregivers need to take some time for themselves each day. Build some break times into your day and life — even if they’re brief — so you can feel rejuvenated and refreshed. You’ll be a better caregiver when you feel energized and motivated to return to your caregiver role.

Caring for yourself as a caregiver could mean taking breaks to:

  • Go for a walk.
  • Take a relaxing bath.
  • Read a book.
  • Take a trip with friends.
  • Book a getaway with your partner.

5. Pay Attention to Your Emotional Health

Caregivers need to manage their mental and emotional health to care for themselves and their family member. Caregiving can make you feel many emotions, and these feelings are natural and valid. Acknowledging and understanding your emotions allows you to address them before they become unmanageable.

Some caregivers feel stress, which can lead to:

  • Feeling sad, depressed or irritable.
  • Having low energy.
  • Oversleeping or having trouble falling asleep.
  • Crying often.
  • A change in eating habits.

You can manage your stress by:

  • Recognizing the signs of stress in your thoughts and behaviors.
  • Identifying the sources of your stress and finding ways to deal with them.
  • Engaging in stress-reducing activities like meeting a friend or taking a walk
  • Practicing stress-reduction techniques like yoga or meditation.

If your emotional distress is intense, speak to a physician or mental health professional about treatment options.

6. Ask for and Accept Help

Some caregivers hesitate to ask others for help or accept offers of help from others. Taking care of a child or adult with special needs does not have to be your sole responsibility — it’s okay to let others help you.

Most likely, there are people in your community willing to support you and your child or adult family member. You can seek help from reliable and trustworthy adults, including:

  • Family members.
  • Friends.
  • Professional caregivers.
  • Health care providers.
  • Community services.
  • Support groups.

Consider respite care to get short-term professional care for the child or adult if you plan to take an extended break from caregiving, such as for out-of-town plans or a vacation.

Depending on your family member’s abilities and interests, you can ask a trusted adult to:

  • Take the child or adult on a walk or to an inclusive playground.
  • Run errands for you.
  • Prepare a meal for your family.
  • Mow your lawn.

Browse Assistive Technology From Enabling Devices Today

Caregivers of children and adults with special needs must remember their own needs and practice self-care to stay healthy. Self-care is not selfish — knowing how to take care of yourself is critical because it allows you to be a better caregiver to your family member. These caregiver self-care ideas can help you care for yourself physically, mentally and emotionally, so you can be there for your family member.

Enabling Devices has various products to help people with disabilities participate in the world. For over 40 years, we have designed and manufactured capability switches, communicators, and switch-adapted and switch-activated toys. Browse our shop online or contact us for more information today.

Why Police Need Better Training About Special Needs

Why Police Need Better Training About Special Needs

Working around people with functional needs (commonly referred to as special needs) requires understanding each person’s unique presentation of a specific disability as well as how to interact with them. This knowledge is especially critical for law enforcement officers.

Many police officers receive little to no disability awareness training throughout their career, which can lead to negative outcomes for the police officer, the department and the person with special needs and their loved ones. In fact, police officers are more likely to use force against a person with a disability, and one-third to one-half of individuals killed by police have a disability.

Law enforcement officers need consistent, accurate and informative training about special needs. This training allows officers to have positive experiences with people who have disabilities, so everyone can stay safe in these scenarios.

Why Special Needs Training Should Be Part of Law Enforcement Training

Special needs training is important for police officers to interact safely with people with disabilities and functional needs. The lack of training means many officers do not recognize the symptoms of disabilities and may see certain behaviors or traits as suspicious or dangerous, which can create problems during an interaction.

Examples of traits and behaviors that the police may misidentify as suspicious include:

  • Little to no eye contact: Police officers expect people to make eye contact during questioning. However, people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may make little to no eye contact when talking. The police may see this as suspicious or a sign of guilt.
  • Touching: Some people with disabilities may touch or initiate physical contact during a conversation. It’s possible for police officers to misinterpret the contact as threatening.
  • Not talking: Police officers may call out or shout from a distance. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may not hear the officers or be unable to lip read or communicate in American Sign Language (ASL) if the officers cannot converse in ASL. People who are non-speaking (commonly referred to as non-verbal) may be unable to communicate. The lack of communication may be interpreted as noncompliance.
  • Repeating certain movements or vocalizations: Law enforcement presence may include lights and sounds from sirens, bullhorns and shouting. People who are hyper-responsive to sensory input may feel overwhelmed and experience emotional distress. They may do self-soothing activities like repetitive physical movements to calm themselves, which police may see as suspicious.Problems With Current Police Training on Disabilities

Problems With Current Police Training on Disabilities

Many law enforcement officers receive little to no training about intellectual and developmental disabilities. Problems with current police training include:

  • Lack of consistency: Current disability awareness training is inconsistent, so some officers may be more trained than others, even within one police department. For example, some departments offer optional training courses on interacting with people who have disabilities. Officers who opt out of this training lack this critical knowledge and may continue to have a lack of understanding about symptoms and behaviors.
  • Application issues: Some programs include disability awareness training in their crisis intervention training (CIT), which focuses on how to respond to a person with a mental illness. However, these skills may not apply to a person with a disability. For instance, CIT teaches police officers the signs of a mental health crisis, which can be different from the symptoms and behaviors a person with a disability exhibits.
  • Focus on control: Most police training focuses on how to gain and maintain control of the situation as authority figures. Police officers spend a lot of their training hours learning how to use weapons, use of force and defensive tactics. As a result, many law enforcement officers expect compliance when giving an order, so they view noncompliance as a threat.

Ideas for Disability Awareness Training for Law Enforcement

The good news is that training requirements are changing as more law enforcement agencies and the public understand why police need better training on special needs. More states are starting to mandate special needs training programs for all police officers, regardless of their years of service.

These programs teach officers:

  • The symptoms and behaviors of a range of disabilities.
  • How to identify a person with a disability.
  • How symptoms can vary between people with the same disability.
  • How to respond to and communicate with these individuals.

Here are a few key activities that disability awareness training programs can include:

  • Roleplaying exercises: Including people with disabilities in the training program allows officers to test the skills they’ve learned in a roleplaying scenario. Have a group of people with a range of disabilities play out common scenarios with police officers. Roleplaying allows officers to practice thinking on their feet and testing different approaches to situations. The participants with disabilities can also learn how to respond to officers in a safe and relaxed setting.
  • Real-life examples: Training programs can analyze real examples of interactions between law enforcement and people with disabilities. This analysis can help officers understand what went well and what could be improved. The most impactful examples come from local case files, so police departments can see their historical approach to these incidents.
  • Insights from caregivers: Caregivers have valuable insight into how to interact with individuals with disabilities. Training programs should include input from caregivers to provide police officers with this unique perspective. A caregiver’s role can range from designing the coursework to serving as an advisor for a training course.

The key to training is awareness, which helps law enforcement officers gain insights into various disabilities and how to serve their community better.

How Caregivers Can Support Law Enforcement Training for Special Needs

Improvements in disability awareness training must come from police officers as well as people with disabilities and their caregivers. As the police receive better training on special needs, individuals with functional needs can also learn how to respond to police officers and manage these interactions.

Caregivers can promote positive interactions between police and people with disabilities by:

  • Starting or supporting a local program: Start a training program in the community, or if the local police department already has training, support that program where possible. Disability awareness training allows civilians with disabilities to learn about a police officer’s job. They can learn how to talk to an officer and see the equipment and tools they wear as part of their uniform.
  • Practicing talking to police officers: Caregivers can use roleplaying scenarios to teach a person with a disability how to interact with law enforcement. Caregivers can explain what police officers are and how to talk to them, then have a pretend conversation to teach them what to say and how to act.
  • Registering for a disability identification card: Some states offer disability identification cards for a person with a disability to carry. The card states the disability the person has, such as ASD or schizophrenia, and is typically free to anyone 16 and older. When interacting with the police, the card alerts officers to the person’s condition so they can react appropriately.Contact Enabling Devices Today

Contact Enabling Devices Today

Disabilities training for law enforcement is critical. It teaches police officers more about disabilities and how to interact with people with a range of abilities. This understanding leads to situations where police and all civilians stay safe and have a positive experience with one another.

Enabling Devices sells assistive technology and other products that allow people with disabilities to participate fully in the world. We have been in business for over 40 years and are passionate about supporting this community. Contact Enabling Devices today for more information.

5 Ways to Help Your Students With Special Needs Experience Music

Children with functional needs (commonly referred to as special needs) benefit from experiencing and learning music. Music is an effective learning tool for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities and more.

Music is a creative tool that can positively affect children through emotional understanding, empathy, communication and empowerment. Besides the musical benefits, these lessons can impact a student’s life in other areas of their education and beyond the classroom in their social and emotional development.

A music lesson for a special needs class should consider each student’s abilities and use a device or method that works for them. Plan a music lesson where students can learn about music while having fun.

How Music Can Help Children With Functional Needs

Children with functional needs benefit from music education. The following music activities can develop skills that students can use in the classroom:

  • Listening to music increases focus.
  • Singing enhances communication skills and improves speech.
  • Memorizing lyrics can improve a student’s ability to remember academic concepts.
  • Rhythm develops and refines motor skills.

Where a traditional classroom uses mostly auditory and visual senses, a music classroom involves other senses to encourage participation in unique ways. Sensory music for special needs classrooms engages students’ tactile systems. A multisensory experience with music can be positive for students.

You can adapt music lessons to the unique needs of each child to engage them. For example, music therapy for students with hearing impairment can improve their speech and language development, social and emotional development, listening skills, and cognitive development. These activities can involve music and pitch perception depending on the child’s abilities. Vibration music benefits students who are deaf or hard of hearing because they can use percussive instruments, vibrations and visual cues to understand rhythmic patterns.

How to Adapt Music for Students With Special Needs

You can teach music to your students in various ways to help your class stay engaged. These techniques can help you have a successful music lesson.

1. Use Visual Support

Visual aids in your music lessons can help your students understand how to do the activity. The auditory stimuli of music and the visual cue of a card or demonstration enhance comprehension and memory by engaging multiple senses.

Here are some ideas for using visual support in your music lessons:

  • When you want students to clap to a song, if they are able, hold a card that says “clap” with a picture of hands.
  • Pictures, gestures, cards and storybooks with a song can help students understand the lyrics.
  • When presenting a choice, such as asking the students which song they want to sing or which instrument they want to play, hold up cards or the item itself.

2. Incorporate Their Favorite Songs

Your students will enjoy music lessons with songs they know and are appropriate for their actual and development ages. Hearing or playing their favorite songs helps students engage and gives them a sense of familiarity, which can feel comforting. You can use familiar songs as a teaching tool through activities like:

  • Having students read the lyrics out loud.
  • Circling unfamiliar vocabulary words or key words in the lyrics.
  • Discussing what the song means.
  • Writing about the song’s themes or meaning.

3. Use Rhythm

Rhythm is an important component of music and music lessons for students with special needs. Rhythm emphasizes the song’s key words, creates a predictable cadence and engages the student’s body with the activity. Rhythm lessons can work better than verbal instructions for students who need help filtering important information in dialog.

Using rhythm can be as simple as students tapping the table, a drum or their leg. They can tap a beat to a simple chant to understand rhythm. For students who speak too fast, have them tap the syllables of their words to slow their pace and improve articulation.

4. Keep the Music Going

You can use what students learn in music class in other areas of their learning. Generalizing music concepts can help students apply what they’ve learned in their lessons for math, reading or other areas. Keep music lessons going in these ways:

  • Teach the students a song about classroom behavior and play the song throughout the day to reinforce the lesson. Later, you can simply speak the lyrics as a cue for the students.
  • Use your visual aids from a song during other activities. For example, hold up the picture cards for your classroom behavior song when you want them to actually practice the behavior.
  • Play a song, then ask them about the who, where, when, what and why of the song. This lesson helps students understand and make connections with the song’s lyrics.

5. Provide Non-Speaking Options

Though some components of music are verbal, like singing, students can engage with music without using words. Some students may have difficulty processing words, communicating or expressing their feelings, and they may engage with a song better in non-verbal ways.

Here are ideas for non-speaking options in your music lessons:

  • Instead of asking for a verbal answer, have your students play a game to demonstrate their knowledge about what you just taught them.
  • Create a choice chart so students can indicate the option they want instead of saying it out loud.
  • Play a song for your students, then have them draw a picture or write about the song.

Bring Music to Your Special Needs Classroom With Enabling Devices

Enabling Devices works with parents and teachers of children and adults with special needs to create devices that teach music appreciation. Your students will love our:

  • Adapted Music Kit that includes Ring Around Bells, Band Jam and other toys that use music to improve stress management, communication skills and more
  • B Woofer Guitar that plays songs, chords and strings through switch activation to teach cause and effect and improve auditory development
  • Bongo Drums that use two capability switches to hit the drums and produce a sound
  • Spinning Symphony that plays six Mozart compositions and turns around to access switches for violin, piano, French horn, flute and harp

We can help you find the right toys to engage your students and help them achieve their goals inside and outside the music classroom. Contact Enabling Devices today for more information about our music products and other adaptive devices.

Best Pets for Children With Disabilities

Pets can be a wonderful addition to your family, especially if you have a child with special needs. When your child bonds with and helps care for an animal, they learn responsibility and empathy and receive comfort and love in return.

Deciding how to pick the best pet for your child with disabilities can be challenging. The type of pet you welcome into your family will depend on your child’s capabilities and activity level.

Tips for Choosing the Right Pet for Your Child

Adopting a pet is a big responsibility, so make sure you have the right reasons for doing so. With that in mind, introducing a pet into your family offers many benefits for a child with disabilities. A pet can:

  • Promote physical activity.
  • Improve sensory-motor skills.
  • Encourage connections and socialization with others.
  • Manage stress and provide a calming effect.
  • Reduce heart rate, blood pressure and anxiety.
  • Boost mood.
  • Teach responsibility.

When deciding if getting a pet is right for your family, consider these questions:

  • Can my child handle and play with a pet safely?
  • Does my child have any allergies to pets?
  • Who will care for the pet — my child, myself or both?
  • If my child will work toward caring for the pet, am I willing to train and supervise the pet until my child can?
  • If my child cannot care for the pet, am I able to?
  • How much will it cost to adopt, train, raise and teach my child to interact with and care for the pet?
  • Can I provide the time and resources necessary to take care of the pet in the short and long term?

Before choosing a type of pet, your family should think about these factors:

  • Your child’s behavior, needs and maturity
  • Allergies in the household
  • Your lifestyle
  • Your budget

10 Best Pets for Families With Special Needs Individuals

Once your family has committed to adopting a pet, it’s time to choose. Each type of pet offers benefits and drawbacks and will work best in different situations.

What is the best pet for a child with a disability? Consider if any of these pets would make great companions for your child.

1. Cat

Cats are a popular pet for many families. Our feline friends have many therapeutic benefits and can even be trained to be therapy animals. Cats enjoy playing, grooming and petting and can easily bond with their owners. Your responsibilities are minimal as they are easy to clean up after.

Each cat has a unique personality, so some are more friendly and tolerant of children than others. Cat dander can bother those with allergies, and most cat food contains peanuts, another major allergen.

2. Dog

Dogs are man’s (and woman’s) best friend, offering unconditional love and close companionship. You can easily train your dog, and this pet may encourage your family to play and exercise. Dogs can also be service animals or therapy animals for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The breed of your dog is an important factor. Choose a kid-friendly breed that will tolerate being around children. Some breeds can be high-maintenance and must be walked several times a day or groomed often.

3. Fish

A fish is a great choice for a starter pet since they require minimal maintenance. For instance, the betta fish needs only a tank and food to thrive. Watching the fish swim around can also have a calming effect.

A fish makes a good pet for children with sensory sensitivities since fish don’t make sudden loud noises. However, they may not be the best pet for children who are hyperactive, have a disruptive behavior disorder or want to snuggle.

Fish have a short life span. You may have to replace your fish every few years, and the fish tank can take up a lot of room.

4. Leopard Gecko

The leopard gecko is one of the more popular pet reptiles. They have a calm nature and grow no more than 8 inches long. Geckos like to be held and do not bite, so they are safe for young kids. This pet is also low-cost and low-maintenance.

The leopard gecko has a life span of up to 20 years, making this animal a long-term commitment. They are sensitive to temperature changes, so you may need to buy a heat lamp to keep your pet comfortable.

5. Guinea Pig

Guinea pigs are social animals that love when their owner holds, pets and plays with them. Guinea pigs can help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder learn to interact with others, stay calm and feel less anxious.

You may consider adopting two guinea pigs since they can become depressed when living alone. This factor may be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on how many pets you are willing to adopt.

Guinea pigs are more high-maintenance than other furry friends. Their cage requires daily cleaning and must stay shut.

6. Rabbit

Rabbits are cute furry friends to welcome into your family. Many children find watching and petting a rabbit soothing. Rabbits are also easy to care for and clean up after.

Like their guinea pig cousins, rabbits are social animals and prefer to have a companion. Consider adopting two rabbits to keep your pets happy and healthy.

Rabbits will chew on anything they can get their teeth on, so you should monitor your pet when they’re outside their cage. Rabbit dander is also a common allergen.

7. Hamster

Hamsters are similar to guinea pigs, with a few key differences. Hamsters are smaller, meaning their habitat size and food needs are lower. This pet is also low-maintenance. You’ll need to clean the cage every two weeks.

Unlike guinea pigs, hamsters are less social and may not enjoy your child holding or playing with them. Some hamsters can bite. They also have a short life span of about two years.

8. Rat

Rats are loving, playful and curious pets that can help children engage and be social. This pet is affectionate and can become attached to its owners. Some rats even like riding around on their owner’s shoulders. This animal is also quite intelligent and can be trained.

Rats are high-maintenance animals that must get a lot of attention from their owner to prevent depression. Some people are afraid of rats, so make sure your child is comfortable around these rodents before adopting one.

9. Parakeet

Parakeets are beautiful birds with brightly colored feathers. They are smart and can be trained to do specific things. Since parakeets are small, they make a great pet for households with minimal space. Since they make a lot of noise, there may be better pet choices for children with sensory sensitivities.

Since parakeets are social, they are happiest in a pair. Decide if you want to adopt two parakeets instead of one. Parakeets cannot be snuggled and may bite. You will also need to clean their cage every day.

10. Slider Turtle

A slider turtle is a semiaquatic reptile and one of the most common pet turtle species. They are quiet with no allergens. Turtles are easy to provide for with low-cost veterinary needs and food options.

Slider turtles are not snuggly and cannot be petted or held. You will need to clean their tank frequently, which can be a smelly task. Since they grow up to 11 inches long, you may need to purchase a larger tank in the future.

Shop Products for Children With Functional Needs at Enabling Devices

Enabling Devices works with teachers, physical therapists and parents of children with functional needs to help them participate in the world. We have many animal-themed toys and devices, including:

Shop online today or contact us for more information about our products. Browse the Enabling Devices blog for more helpful resources.

10 Disability Organizations That Need Your Donations This Holiday Season

Reputable Disability Charities

‘Tis the season to give generously – and not just to family and friends. End of year giving isn’t complete without donating to worthy causes.

But how do you choose which nonprofits to support? No worries! Enabling Devices has narrowed the field by doing some of the scrolling for you.

Here are some of the most reputable disability charities that need your support during the holidays and all year round.

Best Buddies International

Best Buddies creates friendships by matching individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities with typically developing peers. The nonprofit also trains people with and without ID and DD to take on leadership roles in their communities.  Additionally, Best Buddies helps place ID and DD individuals in jobs and provides housing opportunities. Donate here.

United Cerebral Palsy

When you choose to donate to UCP, you can give to the national organization, an affiliate, or earmark your donation for CP research. Founded in 1949, UCP has grown from a small parent-run organization to one of the largest health nonprofits in the United States. UCP offers a broad array of services and resources for individuals with disabilities and their families. Donate here.

Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation

Founded by actor and activist Christopher Reeve and his wife Dana in 1982, this organization is dedicated to “curing spinal cord injury by advancing innovative research and improving quality of life for individuals and families impacted by paralysis.” Donations go toward research and support for people with spinal cord injuries. Donate here.

National Down Syndrome Society

A donation to NDSS helps to provide information and resources; health and wellness services; access to education and jobs; and funds legislative advocacy for people with Down syndrome and their families. Donate here.

Foundation Fighting Blindness

FFB funds research to find treatments and cures for retinal degenerative diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, Usher syndrome and Stargardt disease. So far, donor support has made it possible for FFB to “identify 270+ retinal disease-causing genes; launch more than 40 clinical trials for potential treatments; and fund more than 90 research grants annually.” Donate here.

Spina Bifida Association

SBA helps individuals with SB to live better and longer lives. It does so by offering health education, support, networking opportunities, advocating for people with SB on Capital Hill and identifying research priorities. Donate here.

The Arc

A national organization with more than 600 chapters across the country, The Arc is committed to promoting and protecting the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and creating a more inclusive world. The Arc’s work is wide ranging and includes programs that help individuals involved in the criminal justice system; and those seeking employment and educational opportunities. The organization also provides disabled people with extensive resources on topics such as health, travel and technology. Donate here.

Friendship Circle International

Friendship Circle helps disabled individuals and their families “by providing recreational, social, educational and vocational programming.” The organization aims to build an inclusive society where everyone is valued equally regardless of their challenges. Volunteer opportunities are available for teens, college students and adults. Donate here.


This disability-led organization “works to create systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities, and that advances policies and practices that empower people with disabilities to have a better future.” RespectAbility’s Disability Training and Speakers Bureau offers consultation to businesses and other nonprofits seeking to become more inclusive. Its entertainment and media consulting team helps to ensure that TV, film and theatrical productions are equitable, accessible and present the disability experience authentically. Donate here.

Autism Society

This organization supports individuals with autism and their families by advocating for federal policies that increase access to employment, education, health care, housing and other critical services. The Autism Society provides training for families, caregivers and professionals seeking to deepen their knowledge about autism and also focuses on keeping people with autism safe. Donate here.

9 Halloween Ideas for Children in a Wheelchair

9 Halloween Ideas for Children in a Wheelchair

As the parent of a child in a wheelchair, you know how important it is to find an adaptive costume for Halloween. What is an adaptive Halloween costume? It’s a costume designed to be inclusive of all kids regardless of any medical or physical needs they might have. With this list of Halloween costume ideas for a child in a wheelchair, you can make trick-or-treating a blast.

Costumes You Can DIY

Feeling crafty? Try some do-it-yourself Halloween costumes this year.

Doctor Who

A wheelchair makes an excellent base for the iconic blue TARDIS. Make the TARDIS out of pieces of foam board to attach to the side of your child’s wheelchair. Your child can dress as their doctor of choice, like Matt Smith’s doctor with his bowtie and suit jacket.

Mr. Fredrickson and the House from Up

If you’re feeling creative, you can make the house from Up out of cardboard and attach it to your child’s chair. To pull off the Mr. Fredrickson look, you need a bowtie, cardigan and a pair of thick glasses. This costume can be excellent for the whole family with other characters like Russell and Kevin the bird.

Flower Garden

You may have seen store-bought flower costumes that feature daisy petal headpieces. A flower garden adaptive costume can take that idea to the next level. Attach lattice fencing around your child’s wheelchair and add a foam piece with fake flowers stuck through the center. Your child can wear a flower costume and suddenly they’re the biggest flower in the garden.

Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon

For those of you who are artistic and ready for a challenge, you can transform your child’s wheelchair into Toothless with carved styrofoam and electrical tape. When your child is riding through the neighborhood, they’ll be flying Toothless like a pro.

The Batmobile

Turning a wheelchair into the Batmobile is on par with the artistry of Toothless, but your hard work will pay off. Use cardboard, foam and electrical tape to make the design and get a Batman costume for your child to sport while zooming around the neighborhood looking for the bat signal.


For those who like to play Nintendo games, Mario is one of the best adaptive wheelchair costumes. Create a car based on the designs from Mario Kart and find a costume online for your child. This costume has plenty of options with all of the characters in the game, but Mario is one of the most recognizable.

Costumes You Can Buy

If you don’t want to DIY your Halloween costume, you can find some fantastic adaptive costumes online.

Buzz Lightyear

In terms of wheelchair costumes, Disney offers a few excellent ones. It sells an adaptive Buzz Lightyear costume with an open rear for wheelchair users. You can also find a wheelchair attachment that looks like Buzz’s spaceship for a full Space Commander setup that’s ready to go door-to-door.

Pirate and Pirate Ship

Costume destinations like Party City sell cardboard ship pieces to attach to your child’s wheelchair. Buy a separate pirate costume, and you have yourself a completed look for sailing the Seven Seas.


You can find adaptive Elsa costumes online that come with the dress and a wheelchair cover that looks like Nokk from Frozen 2. Order early to make sure you get the costume in time.

Find Products for Your Child at Enabling Devices

Enabling Devices carries a range of adaptive and assistive toys and products for kids who need them. Find the best products for your child and offer them fun all year round. Contact us today to learn more.

11 Fun Fall Activities to Try With Students With Special Needs

11 Fun Fall Activities to Try With Students With Special Needs

With fall just around the corner, there are plenty of autumn activities you can try to get children and students excited for cooler weather and the new season. Introducing your students with special needs to various indoor and outdoor fall experiences is a wonderful way to teach them about the changing weather, falling leaves and new sights and smells.

As you read these fall activities for students with special needs, keep in mind that though they are inclusive to most children, some of your students may not enjoy these activities or they may require more assistance. Have an alternative or backup plan if these experiences do not go as planned.

1. Go on a Nature Walk

Taking your students outdoors to explore sights, sounds and scents can tie in your science or weather lesson for the day. You can also encourage your students to collect various plants or point out animals they see. Make a game out of it and see if any children can spot a tree with changing or falling leaves!

This is a perfect opportunity to discuss the transition of the seasons. If you go on a nature walk, choose a wide path so children with wheelchairs or mobility devices can easily navigate the area.

2. Make Leaf Piles

Another fun outdoor fall activity for children with special needs is making piles of leaves to throw in the air or jump in. This activity can help children strengthen their gross motor skills by raking the leaves together. You can describe the sounds and feeling of crunching on the dried leaves with your feet and encourage students to collect a variety of leaves to compare colors and textures.

This activity can help stimulate the senses and teach children with special needs how gravity works as the leaves fall through the air. You can introduce this activity to children with a wide range of disabilities. If you have students with physical limitations or mobility devices, you can demonstrate this activity for them or use a table to put the leaves at their required height.

3. Visit a Farm or Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkins are undoubtedly the symbol of fall. Look for a local farm or pumpkin patch where you can bring your students to enjoy child-friendly activities, such as a petting zoo, exploring a pumpkin patch and decorating pumpkins. All children with disabilities can enjoy this activity, as there will be plenty of things to do at a pumpkin patch that are accessible to many.

Petting and feeding the animals at the farm can be a soothing and fun sensory experience, and children with special needs can also learn to describe the different textures of the pumpkins they pick out. If some of your students have sensory sensitivities, try visiting a smaller pumpkin patch or going on a slow day to avoid crowds.

4. Go on a Hayride

This time of year is the best for hayrides. Cooler, windy weather can be exciting and stimulating for your students. All children with special needs can participate in a hayride if they wish, as most hayride vehicles can accommodate mobility devices, such as wheelchairs.

Some children with sensory sensitivities or those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may not enjoy it. If any students have tactile sensory sensitivities and don’t enjoy the feeling of hay, bring soft blankets or beach towels to lay on the bales. You and other supervising adults can also sit with students who simply want to watch the hayride go by instead of participating. Many places that offer hayrides will also provide other fun activities, such as sandbox games, coloring or a corn maze.

Roast Marshmallows

5. Roast Marshmallows

Making s’mores and roasting marshmallows is a fun and delicious activity for any time of year, but it’s particularly enjoyable when combined with cool fall weather. This activity engages the senses by helping your students learn how heat affects marshmallows and what they taste like. This activity would be best for students with no swallowing or feeding challenges.

If you want to conduct this fall-related activity in your classroom, use a hot plate or another electrical tool instead of an open flame. If you have students with various mobility needs who are unable to hold a stick for roasting, you can even roast all the marshmallows in an oven for the same gooey taste.

6. Pick Apples

One of the best fall activities for kids with special needs is picking apples. This project allows you to teach your students about how fruit grows. If you have an apple orchard nearby, bring your students so they can take in all the sights and smells of the apples and eat as many as they want. This activity will allow them to experience many colorful shapes and beautiful sounds in nature.

During the fall season, many apple orchards may have other fun activities, like drinking or making apple cider or tractor rides. This activity can help your students with special needs learn to use their fingers and hand muscles to grasp the apples and pull them from the trees. Some students may need assistance with this activity, such as reaching for the apples or holding their basket.

7. Create Apple Stamps

Making apple art with the apples you picked from the orchard is a fun new art lesson for your students. Cut the apples in half, dip them in ink or paint and paste them onto paper. This will produce a design on the paper.

Then, encourage your students to try it themselves and see what shapes they can make with the apples as you cut them into different pieces. Using these apple stamps, you can even have your students create fall greeting cards for the upcoming holidays, such as Halloween or Thanksgiving.

8. Build Fall-Themed Sensory Bins

A sensory bin lets kids touch and explore various textures. To incorporate a fall theme, you can fill a rubber bin with brown rice and various autumnal goodies, such as:

  • Apples
  • Gourds
  • Small pumpkins
  • Leaves
  • Acorns and pinecones
  • Dried flowers
  • Corn husks and kernels

Ask your students to describe the different colors, shapes and textures and provide them with various tools to scoop or grab the items to learn how to master their grasping skills. This activity is friendly for those using mobility devices, but children with limited physical mobility may need assistance.

9. Go Birdwatching

Birdwatching is friendly for all types of needs and abilities because it simply involves sitting or walking around and waiting to spot various birds. Birdwatching during fall is particularly enjoyable because your students may get to see new species of birds among the changing colors of the trees and plants.

Bring your students outside to the playground or local park and have them indicate when they see a bird. You may also attract the birds by putting out cups or hanging birdseed from nearby branches so your students can get a closer look.

10. Bake Seasonal Treats

Baking treats can be one of the most fun fall activities for kids with special needs because it’s something everyone can do together — and they get to enjoy a delicious snack when it’s done. With your students, set up everything you need to bake cookies, pumpkin bread or another treat. You can assign different tasks to students of various abilities, such as mixing the dough, pouring in the ingredients, stirring the contents in the bowl or scooping the dough onto a tray.

If you have some students who have limited mobility, task them with choosing the treats you make or instructing you on how to decorate your goodies when they’re fully cooked! This activity can show students how to practice sharing, taking turns and following directions.

11. Carve a Pumpkin

If you visit a pumpkin patch, have your students bring pumpkins back to your classroom so they can carve or decorate them. With this activity, we recommend you and other supervising adults do the actual carving instead of the children because you will need to use sharp tools. Ask each child what they want their pumpkin to look like or what they want you to carve into the pumpkin, and you can bring it to life.

You may also supply students with glitter, paint and stickers so they can decorate their pumpkins afterward. Allow your students to feel the squishy insides and seeds of the pumpkin and let them play with it and ask them to describe the smell and texture.

Engage Your Student’s Senses With These Fall Activities

Engage Your Student’s Senses With These Fall Activities

If you’re planning some fun activities during the fall for your students with special needs, make sure they have everything they need to comfortably interact and communicate with others as you introduce new sensory concepts. At Enabling Devices, it’s our passion to create exceptional products that help individuals with disabilities and special needs fully participate in the world around them, particularly in fun, engaging and educational activities!

Whether your students could benefit from comforting sensory products during a hayride, adaptive toys to keep them calm during a trip to the orchard or a communication device to express their thoughts and ideas, there are plenty of tools to choose from.

We also offer customized products based on an individual’s needs. If you think one or more of your students could benefit from a certain device, we can design something entirely new that suits their goals and abilities. To learn more about our products and mission to enable possibility, browse our catalog online or contact us today.

9 Tips to Help Your Child Overcome Bullying

9 Tips to Help Your Child Overcome Bullying

Bullying affects millions of students. Over seven million incidents of bullying are reported every school year, and 30% of school-aged children have experienced bullying from someone else. Statistics regarding special needs children reveal they’re at an increased risk of being bullied for several reasons and are two to three times more likely to suffer from bullying than their peers without special needs.

If your child is a victim of bullying during school or their social activities, there are some tips you can follow to help them overcome these issues and build their confidence and communication. Let’s explore how to deal with bullying for your child with special needs or disabilities and what you can do to empower them.

How Bullying Can Impact Students With Disabilities

Being bullied at a young age can negatively affect any child, particularly those with disabilities. Many young kids who have special needs may already feel excluded during school or social activities, and bullying will only make them feel worse. Some of these effects include:

  • Low self-esteem.
  • Anxiety and depression.
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches, loss of appetite and fatigue.
  • Thoughts of suicide.
  • Social and emotional distress.
  • Poor academic performance.
  • Disinterest in school.
  • Mood swings.
  • Inability to concentrate.

While bullying is already a frightening and humiliating experience, these effects can have long, lasting consequences, such as a child’s access to education and socialization. If your child has been bullied, they may endure the effects long after the bullying stops.

Your child may fear going to school or socializing with new people because of bullying related to their special needs or disabilities. Missing days of school due to bullying can cause your child to have lower grades and make it difficult for them to catch up with their peers academically. Children who have experienced bullying at a young age are also more likely to have substance abuse and addiction disorders during their teenage years and adulthood.

Tell Your Child to Reach Out to Someone They Trust

1. Tell Your Child to Reach Out to Someone They Trust

Unless you homeschool your child, they likely spend their day apart from you in the care of other professional educators and administrators. If they experience bullying, they need to have a trusted adult they can talk to and feel safe with. Whether it’s a teacher, coach, counselor or another member of staff at their school, your child should feel comfortable communicating about any issue they experience, especially if they’re bullied or made fun of.

Encouraging your child to seek support when something bothers them or if they’re mistreated can help you learn if they’re getting bullied before it escalates. Bullied children rarely speak up about their experiences because they may fear retaliation from the bully or feel embarrassed about being victimized.

It’s critical to let your child know that finding a trusted adult right away is the right thing to do. When children better understand what bullying is, what it can look like and why it’s important to speak up, they might be less likely to suffer in silence.

You can also let your child know that it’s OK to express their feelings with their teachers or counselors and that doing so can help them feel less alone when they’re away from you. It’s a good idea to have regular talks with your child about why they always need to report bullying to an adult.

2. Join Your School’s Bullying Prevention Program

Many schools have a bullying mediation or prevention program that focuses on teaching kids the signs of bullying and how to put a stop to it if they witness these types of interactions. These programs are helpful for parents to join to stay aware of any bullying behavior that occurs during the school day. These programs can also help create and enforce new rules and policies that cover the different types of bullying, including:

  • Physical: Kicking, tripping, hitting, pushing or throwing objects at another student.
  • Verbal: Teasing, insults, mocking, name-calling or any form of verbal intimidation.
  • Social: Spreading rumors, lying, encouraging others to exclude a student or playing tricks or jokes to purposefully humiliate someone.

However, these programs should focus on cultivating a positive, accepting school culture. Advancing social and emotional learning to help students understand the differences among their peers and how to be supportive and kind may be more effective than simply enforcing consequences. An anti-bullying program could focus on bystander intervention or buddy programs that encourage students to speak up about bullying and promote positive friendships, particularly among vulnerable students.

Because children with disabilities or special needs are more likely targeted by bullies, these programs can help students feel empowered to seek help because they know they have school support. These programs will also give you, as a parent, some peace of mind that the school is looking out for your child and will take action if bullying occurs.

3. Keep an Open Line of Communication

While it’s critical your child feels comfortable seeking support from any adult about bullying, you should also have those types of conversations with them at home. This is one of the best ways to help your child overcome bullying because they will learn how to express their emotions, fears and experiences.

If you and your child maintain a strong relationship and talk consistently about emotions and social situations, such as what goes on at school and within their friendships, you may be alerted more quickly if anything goes wrong or your child is mistreated.

While teaching your child how to express themselves through their verbal and nonverbal cues, you can also show them support by listening and asking questions to learn as much about their situations as possible. If your child’s disability prevents them from speaking or makes it difficult, you can use communication devices or Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices that help them better express themselves.

If your child recounts an experience about getting bullied, assure them that they are not to blame and they’re doing the right thing for speaking to you about it. It’s important to emphasize how crucial this communication is — if you don’t talk about it, your child could suffer in silence or feel they have no one to turn to.

You should avoid telling your child to ignore any bullying because this can become a habit and escalate the bullying. Always make your child feel they can speak to you about anything, no matter how embarrassing or difficult it is.

4. Ask Your Child What You and Others Can Do to Make Them Feel Safe

In a situation like bullying, there are many reasons your child may feel unsafe, especially if they have a disability. If they already feel isolated, lonely, depressed or scared to go to school due to bullying, it can be difficult to feel comfortable taking them to school. A great way to help them overcome bullying is to ask them what you and their teachers can do to make them feel safe.

Whether they’re experiencing severe bullying from one person or insults and mockery from several students, it’s important to make your child feel included regarding how you can move forward toward a solution. Some children may express the desire for you to homeschool them after bullying, while others may want to enter a mediation program with the bully to talk about the situation and resolve it together.

Let your child know they have options and their voice will be heard. Your child may even want to have a teacher, staff member or another student escort them to each of their classes so they can avoid interacting with their bully entirely and feel safer at school.

Educate the Bully

5. Educate the Bully

If you have the opportunity to sit down with your child’s bully, their parents and teachers in a mediation or bullying program, you can educate that student on your child’s disability or special needs and how their differences only make them different, not lesser. You can have an open and honest talk with the bully and their parents about why certain words, jokes or behavior are harmful to your child and how it could make them feel isolated.

The most valuable tool you have is educating the bully on your child’s needs and abilities and how to engage with them properly. Explain to your child’s bully that, though your child may appear different in some ways, they share many similarities with other kids.

It’s also a good idea to let your child’s classmates know it’s normal to be curious and ask questions about those who seem different, but they can do so in a respectful and thoughtful manner. In these meetings, you can encourage your child to speak with their bully about how they feel and how they wish to be treated instead. These types of situations are a great opportunity to give your child a voice and support themselves, knowing you are right there beside them.

6. Encourage Your Child to Find Hobbies

Bullying can feel extremely isolating, especially for kids with disabilities and special needs, who may already feel different from others. Inspiring your child to spend time doing activities they love can help them feel a sense of excitement and joy outside of school and even help them make new friends.

Encouraging your child to partake in hobbies outside of school can help build their confidence in interacting with others and learning how to verbally express their emotions. Whether your child shows an interest in animals, drawing, theater, music or other activities, it’s crucial to support their enjoyment by letting them pursue these in their free time.

Many students who are bullied may feel there is no escape from the harassment or humiliation they feel at school. Helping your child find other ways to engage with those who are kind to them and share similar interests can help them feel included among their peers. These hobbies can also help them learn the social skills and independence they need while at school to better address situations with bullies.

7. Motivate Your Child to Connect With Others

Regardless of what your child’s physical, mental and verbal abilities are, it’s important to find ways for them to connect with their peers and rely on them for support. Research shows that both peer and parental support play critical protective roles against bullying and victimization. This support allows parents, teachers and students to prevent bullying and foster friendships throughout the school for children with special needs and disabilities.

Motivating your child to connect with others and participate in group activities can help them feel they have a circle of friends they can talk to if they’re being bullied, which could help them feel less alone. Showing your child that most of their classmates are likely kind and understanding can make it easier for them to relate to their peers and be more open to building friendships.

Peer-to-peer advocacy is a strong tool against bullying those with special needs because other students are more likely to be present than teachers when bullying occurs. If your child has friends and peers they can rely on, those peers will likely help stop bullying when it occurs or tell an adult what has happened.

Teach Your Child to Stick By Their Friends

8. Teach Your Child to Stick By Their Friends

Just as you’d want other students and peers to support your child if bullying occurs, it’s essential to teach your child the same values. Children with disabilities and special needs are more likely to be bullied, and children without disabilities can experience similar harassment.

Your child should know when to speak up and advocate for their peers by telling an adult what they witnessed. Your child should know their participation and effort to stand against bullying can create a safer, happier environment for everyone.

When telling your child to stick by their friends, let them know that it also means to avoid engaging with their bully and to only interact with peers who are kind to them. Following this advice will help your child find their true friends who will make them feel safe and part of a group.

9. Inspire Confidence

Another way to help your child overcome bullying is to build their confidence within themselves. There’s evidence that bullying significantly affects one’s self-esteem, so your child may struggle with how they feel about themselves after being bullied. While hobbies and extracurricular activities are a great way to build healthy connections with others, try to also inspire their confidence and self-love.

Remind your child of their unique skills and qualities and reinforce positive attitudes and behavior with them. Teach your child to embrace their individuality and uniqueness. If you consistently point out their strengths, interests, skills and positive characteristics, they’ll likely learn to be more confident in who they are. If you show your child they have the power to move on from a negative situation, it helps them better prepare to handle bullying if they experience it again.

Empower Your Child With Tips and Tools From Enabling Devices

Empower Your Child With Tips and Tools From Enabling Devices

Empowering your child with disabilities can help them feel more confident and prepared to go to school after experiencing bullying. At Enabling Devices, we want to continue empowering your child with devices, tools, toys, support and resources that make it easier for them to communicate and gain more independence.

Our diverse and customizable products let us create options that meet our customers’ needs. From our communicators to assistive and adaptive devices to switches, we can find the right technology and products to help your child fulfill more possibilities. Contact us today to see how we can help your child unlock their potential or browse our products and accessories.

What Are Adapted Books?

What Are Adapted Books?

Literature is a valuable resource for students to improve in various skills such as reading comprehension, language skills, object identification and even social skills. However, some students with disabilities may struggle to engage with traditional reading materials. Adapted books provide a solution by modifying texts to help students stay motivated. These books are more accessible to students with diverse learning styles. Plus, you can tailor them for students with a range of abilities, as they’re highly flexible learning materials.

Below, we’ll discuss what adapted books are, why they’re important for accessible education and how to create your own adapted reading materials.

How Do Adapted Books Work?

Adapted books provide a more engaging, accessible way for children with disabilities to experience literature. Rather than asking students to adjust their learning styles to traditional books, these books are modified with features like tactile elements to support students with different learning styles. For example, a student may have trouble visualizing a concept like tall grass or a prickly cactus. However, an adapted book could include textured fabric or pointy plastic to help students physically feel these materials and better understand vocabulary.

Many adapted books include objects or cards attached to pages with fabric fasteners. These books ask students to participate in the story by actively completing tasks like filling in blanks to build sentences. For example, you could write the sentence “Who picks apples?” illustrating the concept of a group of people picking apples. Then, students can choose from words such as “he,” “she,” “it” or “they,” attaching the tile with the appropriate word to answer the question.

Various other adaptations may include page spacers to make thin pages easier to turn, different textures, braille text for the visually impaired or using adaptive technology to provide sound or moving images. Adapted books also typically include pictures that correspond to the text to help students better visualize the words. Repeating the same symbol corresponding with particular terms will expose students to abstract vocabulary in a format they can better understand.

These books can help keep students with disabilities engaged in the story to build their language and reading comprehension skills. Adapted books can help all students of various levels learn and grow.

For example, a lower-functioning student may focus on object recognition and matching, such as identifying the number of items on a page or selecting the right color that corresponds to a picture. On the other hand, students with more advanced language skills may be asked to choose the proper preposition corresponding to the image on the page. Adapted books are flexible, allowing teachers to modify them according to a student’s particular needs.

Why Are Adapted Books Important?

Why Are Adapted Books Important?
Regardless of a student’s reading comprehension level, adapted books encourage engagement with literature in a more accessible way. Teachers design them to be interactive and motivate students, helping readers feel like they’re part of the book by physically moving the pieces. Adapted books can help students feel more engaged and motivated while increasing reading comprehension and language skills. Plus, their easy setup makes these books an appealing, accessible classroom activity.

Increase Engagement

Students with disabilities, especially intellectual and developmental disabilities, may benefit from nontraditional teaching methods. These students may need tasks and materials broken down into smaller steps, hands-on materials and increased visual stimulation.

Adapted books for autism and intellectual disabilities are an engaging solution, as they cater to diverse learning styles and ask students to participate in the story. Because they’re hands-on solutions, these books can increase reading stamina, or the amount of time a student focuses on a text. The different physical and visual stimuli of the books help students with disabilities concentrate on the story. Plus, they can cover a range of cross-curricular topics like math, history and social skills to provide a comprehensive learning experience.

Motivate Students

Adapted books are incredibly versatile. Educators typically create adapted books to adhere to different lesson plans and target multiple skills. Each book is tailored to various students’ learning needs, with a range of concepts, formats and materials covered depending on a particular student’s educational goals.

Since adapted books are individualized learning materials, they’re more likely to help students successfully achieve their objectives. When students have a positive, enjoyable reading experience, they’re more likely to continue engaging with literature. Ultimately, people with disabilities will feel more empowered and motivated to participate in the classroom.

Aid With Reading Comprehension

Students with disabilities may have trouble understanding and visualizing complex or abstract topics. Adapted books aid reading comprehension by presenting complex concepts in a simplified, straightforward way. Adapted books also rely on repetition to familiarize students with various ideas. Each book should focus on a central theme with repeated images and words on each page to help students grasp a range of concepts.

For example, a child may have trouble understanding what food is considered healthy. You can help children understand that fruits and vegetables are healthy by illustrating different items and asking students to select and group the correct ones. One page could focus on fruits, the next could cover vegetables and the following could depict dairy products. Providing visual portrayals of the idea can help children match words to familiar pictures.

Beyond creating your own adapted reading materials, you can also adapt existing books. Asking students questions while they read can help keep them focused and help you determine their level of understanding. Aim for questions that focus on reading comprehension, such as “What characters are on the page?” or “What’s happening in the story and the book’s setting?” You can also easily represent these concepts with images.

Build Language Skills

Build Language Skills
Adapted books are a great way to advance any student’s language skills with word visualization, picture matching and repetition. Educators can help students visualize certain language concepts like prepositions. For example, you can illustrate the word “on” by drawing a line with a dot on top of it. Or demonstrate what “around” means by creating a line with an arrow wrapping around it.

Make sure the book you design or select is appropriate for a student’s skill level. A student working on object identification should work with a book that asks them to match items rather than one that covers prepositions.

Adapted books are also especially beneficial for giving nonverbal students the chance to participate. Students with limited communication skills can point to or match different concepts. They can also collaborate with classmates to work through the book, building social skills.

Easy Setup

Adapted books are an easy group classroom activity. To make the books, create the graphics and text digitally. Then, print the book, laminate and bind it and attach any required features, like fabric fasteners. In the classroom, they’re easy to get out and clean up. The interactive reading kits should contain all the parts students need to complete the activity. Students can also work together to use the materials, helping children with disabilities develop their communication and social skills.

How to Make Your Own Adapted Books

Creating your own adapted books for the classroom is easy. Adapted books are flexible — you can either adapt your favorite existing books or create your own stories to target particular skills. Regardless of what you choose, ensure you’re adapting every book for each students’ specific needs, whether that means adding texture, page-turners or other elements.

Adapting Existing Books

Adapting Existing Books

You can adapt an existing book by creating your own materials to add to a book, making traditional story time more engaging for students with disabilities. It’s best to choose a book children are familiar with, especially when the interactive element asks students reading comprehension questions.

Take the following steps to adapt your favorite picture books:

  • Select the book: The first step to adapting an existing book is to select the text you’d like to modify. Consider obtaining multiple copies of the same book to modify for different reading levels. Various modifications can also target particular skills, such as reading comprehension, object identification or language skills. You should also keep an unmodified teacher copy of the text.
  • Consider adaptation techniques: After selecting a book, you should decide what kind of adaptations to add. Review your students’ needs to determine how to adapt the book. Are the adapted books for students with autism who need texture and visual stimulation to stay engaged? Does the student have trouble turning pages? Adaptations can include adding page-turners, pictures or textures to facilitate the reading experience. You can easily create page-turners by adding popsicle stick pieces, tabs or other raised surfaces to the pages.
  • Find pictures: Next, find pictures that correspond to the text. Free resources like Microsoft Word Clipart or Google Images have a range of pictures, symbols and other images. You can also check out paid platforms. You’ll want to ensure they’re engaging and appropriately sized for the text. Review the book beforehand to plan where you’d like to add interactive elements. You’ll better determine how to best size the images when printing.
  • Apply materials to the book: Finally, you can apply the interactive materials to the book with glue or packing tape. You can also use removable label sheets if you’d like to preserve the original pages. Using packing tape is a good idea, as it automatically laminates the surface to prevent wear and tear and provides a smooth surface for the fabric fasteners to adhere to. When applying the interactive elements, ensure all essential textual and graphic elements on the page are still visible.

You might also want to consider re-binding the existing book if it’s a soft-cover copy and you have a binding machine available. Re-binding these books gives you more space for the interactive elements on the page where the binding previously took up space. It also may make it easier for some students to turn the pages. Use a knife to slice off the original binding and re-bind soft-cover books. Then, bind the loose pages like any other paper.


Creating New Adapted Books

If you want to create your own story to help students with particular skills, you can create your own adapted books. When making an adapted book, you should first determine each student’s needs. The format you choose for adapted books depends on your students’ learning objectives. For example, a student with sensory processing disorder may benefit from tactile additions to a book as a form of sensory integration therapy. Another student may benefit from a story that teaches both reading comprehension and social skills. Creating your own adapted book provides many flexible options.

There are several types of adapted books you can create:

  • Traditional adapted books: Traditional adapted books are relatively easy to create. While this method is slightly more time-consuming than alternatives, these materials can last for years in your classroom. Design each text and graphics page with clear images that follow a theme. Then, print, laminate and bind the pages with a binding machine or binder rings. Finally, attach an adhesive fabric fastener on each answer space, picture tile and tile place keeping spot.
  • Mini-adapted books: Mini-adapted books are excellent options to save paper. As the name suggests, this version is half the size of traditional adapted books. These smaller books provide a last-minute classroom activity, which is especially beneficial for substitute teachers. Further, mini adapted books are not laminated, allowing each student to take their book home for continued learning. Students who are able can also practice their fine motor skills by cutting and assembling their own books.
  • Digital adapted books: Many schools have now embraced remote learning. Digital adapted books allow students to access homemade digital copies of texts anywhere. Digital texts can help students learn essential technology skills. Further, technology can aid with listening and reading comprehension by reading the book aloud to students. Hearing and seeing the words with a corresponding image can help with object identification, language skills and reading comprehension.

Regardless of the type of adapted book you create, each spread should first include a page with the story. Then, two question pages should follow. For physical copies, you can either attach a piece of laminated cardstock to the side or bottom of the book to keep the attachable, interactive tile pieces. You can also keep the answer tiles on the front or back cover of the book.

Shop Accessible Reading Tools With Enabling Devices

Students with disabilities may struggle to engage fully when using traditional reading materials. Adapted books for students with autism and other disabilities can provide a creative, accessible solution to keep students motivated. Because every adapted book is tailored to each student’s particular needs, they can help students concentrate and understand the story.

Enabling Devices offers a range of accessible products for people with disabilities. The Reading Time Communicator is an adaptive reading technology that promotes early reading. Students can press switches that correspond to removable stickers on the page to hear up to six messages up to 25 seconds long. We also offer special education classroom kits, communicators and adaptive toys and switches to empower your loved one with a disability. Reach out to us today to learn more about our products!

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5 Must-Have Items for the 4th of July

5 Must-Have Items for the 4th of July

The 4th of July is a great holiday to celebrate our nation’s independence with friends and family. However, for many people and animals, it’s one of the most anxiety-inducing days of the year. While the 4th of July brings joy, barbecues and celebration, it also brings loud, crackling fireworks and booming music playing from every street corner or outdoor public area. For children with disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder and sensory sensitivities, this noise can be extremely unsettling and even scary.

As a caregiver, there are not many things you can do to control the noise in public areas or in your neighborhood. However, you can make this upcoming holiday easier for your child to help them feel comfortable and safe. Here are some sensory-friendly 4th of July items to have on hand ahead of the fireworks.

1. Noise-Blocking Headphones

Sound sensitivity is one of the most common symptoms found in children with autism or special needs, which can make the upcoming holiday very overwhelming for your child. Research shows that children with autism are often more sensitive to loud noises or perceive them to be louder than others. These loud, repetitive or abrupt noises on the 4th of July can be strong irritants, so it’s important to have noise-blocking headphones or other auditory sensory products on hand that help your child feel comforted.

Noise-canceling headphones can often block out most of the noise, which is why many parents use them when taking their children to concerts. You can also give your child headphones that play soothing music or white noise if they prefer. Whether you’re celebrating from the comfort of your home or out with friends and family, having these headphones with you can provide instant relief to your child, particularly if they use alternate methods of communication.

2. Sunglasses

Bright lights are also a common sensory sensitivity for children with visual processing disorders, autism and special needs. Bright lights, including fireworks, can cause sensory overload in children and result in sensory avoidance — when your child tries to escape a situation or stimuli others can easily tune out. Studies show bright, flashing or flickering lights can significantly affect hypersensitivity in people with autism and create negative visual sensory experiences. Though all needs and sensory sensitivities differ in children with special needs and autism, they may also have difficulties tolerating:

  • Particular colors
  • Visual distractions
  • Unpredictable movements
  • Patterns
  • Bright environments

When it comes to light, you might find your child keeping their eyes closed, covering them or falling asleep to avoid the glare. Sunglasses can help your child feel more comfortable in the presence of bright lights by protecting their eyes and shielding them from the sun, fluorescent lights or spotlights that might be present during 4th of July celebrations.

3. A Favorite Comfort Item, Toy or Game

A Favorite Comfort Item, Toy or Game

Bringing familiar toys, games or a particular item your child loves can be a perfect distraction during overstimulating activities like firework shows, barbecues, parades, block parties or other outdoor events. A toy or game will also serve as something to keep their mind occupied and focus on something in their hands rather than what’s going on around them. If they feel overwhelmed or frightened by the excessive noise, crowd or visual movements, they can turn to their favorite toy for comfort.

Some examples of these items can include:

4. Favorite Snacks

It’s common for children with different disabilities to be picky eaters for many reasons, including how specific foods feel in their mouths or how crunchy or soft they are. Take advantage of this and stock up on your child’s favorite snacks ahead of the holiday. During the fireworks show or at home, your child can focus on enjoying the taste, texture and flavor of their snacks instead of the environment around them.

Food can also provide a crucial distraction for your child if they are anxious about the fireworks, the sounds of people grilling nearby, excited chatter or other activities that can make them feel overwhelmed. Be sure to bring a cooler if you go out and have plenty of snack options for your child to choose from when the day arrives.

5. A Favorite Blanket

As a child, nothing is more comforting than a favorite blanket, teddy bear or stuffed toy that you take with you everywhere. Your child likely has one of these, so it’s a good idea to make sure you bring them along wherever you’ll be on the 4th of July. A favorite blanket adds even more advantages because you can use it to establish a visual boundary for your child and the rest of your family.

This gives your child their own special space to play with toys and enjoy snacks in peace and comfort and ensures no one will invade their set boundaries. If you go to a parade or similar event, your child can still use their favorite blanket to wrap themselves up and feel hidden and cozy ahead of the activities.

Other Sensory-Friendly Tips for Preparing for the 4th of July

Here are some other autism-friendly 4th of July tips to keep in mind to help your child get through the celebrations in comfort:

  • Count down: Mark your calendar for the 4th of July and cross out the days leading up to the holiday with your child to get them excited about it.
  • Talk it out: Let your child know something different is coming up and what you plan to do. Kids with special needs may be more prepared for the 4th of July activities if you tell them what to expect, such as where you will go and how long the festivities will last. Tell them about fireworks and what colors or sounds they might see if they have never seen them before.
  • Find the right spot: Provide a safe distance from the action if your child gets overwhelmed, such as a secluded area away from the crowd. You should also remain near your car if possible in case your child wants to escape from the noise and watch the fireworks from there.
  • Know their limits: Be mindful of the situation. While family memories and celebrations are important, it’s not worth your child feeling stressed. Have a plan in place with alternate activities, such as watching the fireworks at home on TV, if your child becomes too overstimulated.
  • Give them ways to ask for a break: If your child uses alternate communication methods, make sure they have a special card or device that lets them alert you when they feel overwhelmed or need a break. This can make them feel more prepared and safe before engaging in any activities.

Prepare for a Fun Fourth of July This Year

This upcoming holiday should be a wonderful time for you and your family to relax and celebrate. Your child with a disability deserves to make memories and enjoy themselves, and bringing along some of their favorite items and toys can create a calming experience. There are plenty of ways to keep them feeling safe and pleasantly distracted, even in a stimulating new environment.

At Enabling Devices, our goal is to create unique products, tools and devices that help individuals with disabilities participate in community events and day-to-day activities in comfort. If you’re a parent looking to make more fulfilling experiences with your child, browse our sensory products and adaptive toys and games. We also invite you to contact us to learn more about customizing a product to fit your child’s needs.

Prepare for a Fun Fourth of July This Year

Top Toys For Different Goals

Top Toys For Different Goals

Toys allow children to have fun, but they can also do so much more. Some toys are designed to help children develop their five senses, while others help children with specific tasks. If you teach a class of students with special needs, adding certain types of toys to your lesson plans or classroom setting can help your students relax, focus better and develop their fine motor and communications skills.

Toys for Increasing Focus

Children learn more effectively when they can pay attention to the instructions and focus on the lesson. Certain types of movement may improve some children’s concentration and focus. Enabling Devices offers several types of toys for improving focus, including Sensory Kits. The following toys can help students with special needs concentrate better in a classroom setting.

Top Toys for Different Goals MG

1. Classroom Fidget Kit

Fidgeting gives the body the chance to burn off excess energy. Redirecting some of a child’s fidgety energy can help enhance their learning. Several studies have examined the impact fidget toys have on children’s test scores. One study found a 10% increase in scores when students used fidget toys.

Fidget toys do more than help redirect a child’s energy. They can also help children develop fine motor skills and dexterity. Playing with these toys may help lower children’s stress and anxiety levels.

The Classroom Fidget Kit includes a variety of toys to meet the sensory needs of each student in a classroom. The toys are packaged in a handy tote bag for easy storage and transport.

Inside the kit, you’ll find:

  • Fidgipod
  • Gel Bead Balls
  • Rainbow Pom Balls
  • Desk Buddy Sensory Bars
  • Figer Squash It
  • Water Snakes
  • Tangle, Jr.
  • Sensory Stixx
  • Pop Tubes
  • Pencil Finger Fidgets
  • Squish Disks
  • Wood Fidget Puzzles

The kit contains two of each type of toy.

2. Twiddles

Twiddles is a cuddly and soft toy that children can wear around their arm like a sleeve. The Classic Twiddles has a soft fringe and marble pouch. We’ve added vibration, which provide additional sensory stimulation.

Twiddles is machine washable and can be put in the dryer, as long as you remove all of the attachments and battery packs first. You might want to purchase several so students can use the toys when they feel stressed or have trouble focusing during class time.

3. Gel Lap Pad

The Gel Lap Pad contains a sparkling, colorful gel that helps children focus and self-soothe. During classroom instruction, children can hold the pad on their lap and push into the gel to redirect their energy, improving their concentration.

The lap pad is easy to clean and contains a nontoxic gel.

4. Weighted Puppy

Weighted toys can help children concentrate while also helping calm and soothe them. The Weighted Puppy wraps around a child’s shoulders and neck. The gentle pressure from the cuddly pup helps improve children’s attention and concentration.

The weighted puppy is microwave-safe, so you can gently heat it for use as a hot pack. It can also go chill the freezer to use as a cold pack.

Weighted Puppy

Toys to Help With Sleep

Children with special needs might have difficulty sleeping, whether at home or during classroom nap time. Fortunately, there are several toys available that may help calm and soothe them, making it easier to fall asleep.

1. Tranquil Turtle

The Tranquil Turtle is a soft, soothing friend a child can bring to bed or naptime. The turtle has a light-up shell that produces wave-like motions. It also makes soothing sounds similar to an ocean breeze. In a darkened room, the turtle’s lights and sounds help create a calm atmosphere.

You can adjust Tranquil Turtle’s volume, brightness and movement to create a sensory experience customized to each child.

2. Twinkles to Go Octo

Twinkles to Go Octo is an adapted illuminator that projects stars and fish onto the walls of your classroom. There’s one switch that turns Twinkles to Go on and off. A second switch changes the color of the lights. The switches are sold separately.

Twinkles to Go can be ideal as a soothing toy for children with a fear of the dark. The illuminator stays lit for 45 minutes before shutting off.

3. Weighted Blankets

Weighted Blankets have long been used to help children with sensory processing disorders. The blankets create a sensory experience that many children find calming. The gentle pressure creates a calming effect, which can help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress in children. In some cases, a weighted blanket at nap or bedtime may help reduce the occurrence of nightmares and night-waking.

When choosing blankets, it’s important to pick the weight appropriate for a child’s age and size. Blankets that are too heavy can be overstimulating for some children. Weighted blankets are generally considered safe for children age 4 or older who weigh more than 50 pounds.

Toys to Help Relax

Some children with autism can become over-stimulated following a change in routine or in triggering environments like loud areas or places with a lot of sensory stimulation, such as strong smells. The best relaxing toys for children with special needs help them avoid a meltdown or other behaviors such as self-stimulation.

1. Bubble Tubes

Bubble Tubes help create a relaxing atmosphere at home or in a classroom. The tubes vary in size but are typically water-filled cylinders that produce bubbles to help children relax and focus. Some tubes play soothing songs while others produce a gentle hum. The tubes may also have built-in LED lights in various colors that children can change with the push of a button.

2. Tubular Vibrator

Vibrations can help children with sensory processing difficulties, specifically excitatory vibrations. Excitatory vibration is most beneficial for children with low arousal who need additional stimulation to stay alert and relax. One way to provide vibration is through a Tubular Vibrator.

The Tubular Vibrator is a soft toy that can wrap around the neck, arm or any other body part. It provides vibrotactile feedback that can either soothe or energize a child. It’s available in adapted and unadapted versions. The adapted version vibrates only when the button on a switch is depressed. The unadapted version has an on/off switch.

3. Jellyfish Soother

The Jellyfish Soother is a cute and soft jellyfish toy that plays gentle music and ocean sounds. The Jellyfish Soother cycles through a rainbow of colors as it plays a four-minute melody. The soother is adapted for use with an external switch that activates the lights and music. It can also be used without a switch, as it turns on and off when the edge of the body is pressed.

The Jellyfish can rest on a tabletop or other surface. It also has a look so you can hang it from the ceiling or wall.

Therapeutic Manipulator

Toys for Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills require a child to use the small muscles in their body, such as those in the hands and fingers. Developing fine motor skills helps children become more independent, as they need the skills to dress themselves, eat and perform numerous everyday tasks. With fine motor skills, children can grip objects and manipulate materials.

Examples of fine motor skills include being able to hold a pencil or crayon, use a computer mouse, tie shoelaces and brush their teeth. Numerous toys can help children with special needs develop their fine motor skills.

1. Therapeutic Manipulator

The Therapeutic Manipulator is an activity center that helps children develop key fine motor skills, including grasping and reaching. It also helps develop finger isolation. The toy has several activities built in, such as a dangling toy that makes a silly noise when pulled or a giant knob that makes a cartoon sound when turned. There’s a multicolored, light-up spring toy and a big green button that plays soothing music.

Children can play with the toy on the floor or at a table. You can also remove the base and attach it to a wall.

2. Tactivity Center

The Tactivity Center is a multipurpose toy that helps children with limited mobility exercise and participate in therapeutic activities. It securely fastens to a table or wheelchair tray with two c-clamps. The toy consists of lightweight tubing with three attached accessories, including two textured balls and a ring.

Children can reach for and grasp the ring or balls, helping develop strength and eye-hand coordination. You can purchase additional accessories and extra toys for the Tactivity Center.

3. Desktop Busy Box

The Desktop Busy Box provides a variety of tactile experiences to a child, as each of its four sides has a different tactile sensation. One side plays music, another has ball chains and music, a third lights up and the fourth lets you record a 10-second message. On the top of the Busy Box is a green button that vibrates when pushed.

The Busy Box is attached to a lazy Susan, which lets children spin it, encouraging them to practice reaching. It also teaches children the basics of cause and effect, as they can soon see what happens after they press on each side of the box.

AAC Devices for Communication Skills

AAC Devices for Communication Skills

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices are designed to help children with special needs develop communication skills. Using communication devices allows children to express themselves and what they are feeling or thinking.

1. Mini-Coms

Mini-Coms help children develop simple communication skills. The devices let you record a short 20-second message, such as “I want an apple.” Children can press the yellow button on the front of the communication device to let you know that they want an apple. The devices have a track on the top where you can place pictures or icons that illustrate the child’s message.

Each Mini-Com has a small piece of hook and loop fastener on the side to connect several units and create more complex sentences.

2. Rocking Say It Play It

The Rocking Say It Play It helps children learn the connection between language and function. A useful toy for developing language skills, the Rocking Say It Play It lets you record two messages. Which message plays depends on the side of the switch the child presses. The toy helps children better understand how language works and what happens when certain words are spoken.

3. Puzzle Communicator Set

The Puzzle Communicator Set helps children recognize different types of animals while working on their communication skills. You can record up to 300 seconds on the communicator, creating messages for each of the five puzzle levels. When a child picks up or sets down a puzzle piece, the message will play.

Along with helping children learn communication skills, the Puzzle Communicator Set helps them develop grasping and fine motor skills. Each set comes with three puzzles and one base.

4. Totally Tactile Communicator

The Totally Tactile Communicator is an AAC device that’s particularly useful for children with visual impairment. The tool has textured icons that are bright and colorful. You can record up to 36 messages on the communicator at seven seconds per message.

It has three built-in controls, including an on/off adjustment and volume control. The tool is attached to a lazy Susan, allowing playback delay on outside plates and vibration adjustment.

The Totally Tactile Communicator is flexible and customizable. You can adjust the messages and recording times based on a child’s specific needs. You can also use the communicator in various settings, such as in the classroom, at the child’s home or in public. The toy helps motivate children to communicate and interact with the world around them by allowing them to share messages.

Get the Best Toys for Your Home or Classroom

For more than four decades, Enabling Devices has created toys and products to help people with disabilities interact and connect with the world. Our goal is to bring joy to children and further unlock their potential through toys and communication devices.

Our toys have a place in the classroom, the home and sensory rooms. If you’re looking for the best toys to help children develop communication skills and fine motor skills, we have plenty of options. Our toys can also help children learn to self-soothe and calm themselves in periods of anxiety and stress.

Browse our digital catalog to see what we have available. If there isn’t a toy or device that quite fits your needs, we also offer customized services. Contact us today to learn more.

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