This month, the Handwriting is Fun! Blog is proud to host another guest author series. In July we will be sharing information on the topic of Technology and OT. Our series will stray from our typical course and discuss non-handwriting related topics, except for the one that was presented the first week. I know you will enjoy what our guests will be sharing and will learn a great deal from their expertise.
This week, we are proud to have Rebecca Klockars, the OT Mommy, join us again to share her “OT-made AT for success!” She truly demonstrates the ingenuity and creativity that occupational therapy is based upon. If you enjoy her post as much as I did, please be sure to stop by her site and let her know!
OT Mommy, you’re on!
One of the things I love about Assistive Technology is that it does not have to be high tech. Some of my favorite MacGyver-inspired modifications came from searching the plethora of stuff I have in my OT room.
When adapting materials for writing, I like to scour my surroundings and look for ways I can reuse materials. I am sure many of you can relate to the hoarder tendencies in your own therapy room.
For example, the art teacher was throwing away “broken” brushes, so I grabbed them. Like many occupational therapists and special educators, I had a box of unused pegs from peg boards activities. Through trial and error, I discovered that a peg fit into the handle’s old spot, creating a short paintbrush with a convenient form to enhance the grasp of a developing writer.
If you have a child struggling to keep the pencil resting in the webspace, two elastic bands can provide a handy support. Just overlap the bands and pull through. This is great for tablet styluses too.
If you have a student with significant grasp difficulties, sometimes for just a few cents worth of PVC piping found in the plumbing section of your local hardware store, a T-shaped crayon holder can be built. Depending on the size of the tool you are using, you will want to grab a PVC tee connector and two pieces of PVC piping cut approximately 2-3” in length each. Place the two lengths of piping in each end of the top of the T; the writing implement is placed in the open end. If needed, thread a strap of One-Wrap through the top to help support the grip. Here’s an example from Therapy Fun 4 Kids!
Need to build up diameter of pencil but don’t have any foam tubing? Head to the dollar store and get a package of curlers. These can be used for tactile feedback as well as a build-up material.
I’ve gone as far as the gym teacher’s closet to find broken jump rope handles. Sometimes a marker fits perfectly in the handle, creating a makeshift universal cuff for writing.
Positioning materials are just as important for grasp development and writing readiness. If a student needs a more angled surface than you can achieve with a three-ring binder, make your own. Get an old political sign made of corrugated plastic, some Velcro, and wallpaper corners (found at the local paint and decorating store). With strategic cutting, bending and velcroing, a slanted surface for either writing or reading is easily achieved.
For a great how-to video, visit University of New Hampshire You Tube Channel ATinNH – right here!
So the next time you are struggling to find the perfect pencil grip for a student, look around the classroom, in the art room, or in the aisles of the local hardware store. You never know what you will find. You may even become inspired to be your own AT hacker.
Rebecca Klockars is a mom, occupational therapist, RESNA certified assistive technology professional and author of the blog OTMommy Needs Her Coffee. When not ranting and raving about things to do with her children (her own and the school-based kids too) she enjoys cooking, reading and building things with PVC, duct tape and velcro. For more information, visit her site dedicated to Assistive Technology Consideration in Transition Assessment and her blog at www.otmommy.blogspot.com