By: Kerry Tanis
In my classroom, we have kids of many unique disabilities. For a few of our students, mobility isn’t something that comes easily. However, we like a good challenge, and are always finding new ways to make classroom adaptations specific to each kid, so they can get the most out of the lesson being taught.
Here is a way to use ordinary items to make a platform or small “desktop” for a child who has limited mobility to be able to participate more fully in activities. We used a thick, larger mouse pad, wrapped it completely in colorful duct tape, and attached it (with duct tape) to plastic bendable pipe (available at a hardware store). Then we attached the pipe to the wheelchair-once again by duct tape…lots of it! It may take a little playing around with it to get it at the right angle for your student. Next we took two strips of elastic, sewed them together to make a loop, and put one around each side of the mouse pad. This allows you to attach or hold things onto the pad, such as an iPad, certain toys, a thin wipe-off board, or a worksheet. The bendable pipe allows you to move the pad around-you can lay it flat or turn it at various angles, depending on what activity the child is doing. It also allows you to bend it off to the side of the chair, out of the way when not in use.
Since the student this is used for has very limited reach, this platform works perfectly for him to prop his lunch, to write on his attached paper or white board, to play with toys and instruments, to be able to paint, to work on his iPad and more; in other words, it enables him to do almost any fine motor activity the other students do, at least in some fashion, and enables him to do it independently. Such a simple adaptation that truly makes many opportunities more accessible for him, ones that he doesn’t have to rely on someone to be there constantly by his side holding something up for him.
This basic adaptation could also be used to attach mirrors, switches for environmental control or a communication device.