Sunday, April 30, 2017

Joystick Tactile Object Attachment for Tactile Calendar System

A long time ago I posted about this awesome assistive technology lady, Therese Willkomm, who did this great workshop on easy assistive technology solutions. I only got to see half of her presentation and always wished I could have learned more. As luck would have it, several years later I find myself enrolled in Therese's Assistive Technology Solutions in Minutes class through Perkins e-learning series. I highly recommend this class!
Each week we learn about all kinds of fun things--adhesives, PVC, corrugated plastics, etc and we build and share our new ideas. This past week we learned about instamorph and I am in love! 
I am excited about this idea that I camp up with (thanks to the class): it's a joystick attachment for calendar object symbols. 
I have several students that have a goal of grasping items in their hands. We have some joystick switches that work with our switch adapted toys. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to expand options for giving our students meaningful ways of grasping things. Many of my students use calendar object systems but they are limited because grasping their objects is difficult. We can use eye gaze but that doesn't work for students who have significant vision loss. 
I wanted to find a way to make a more meaningful joystick for students other than with toys. I combined the joystick with the calendar object system.  I used the APH Tactile Connections Kit for this project.
You can buy Instamorph at several places including Michael's and Amazon. It dries white but you can buy colored pellets to add color to it. You can grab a good size bag for about $20. It's totally reusable (about 6 different times to reuse for best uses) and you can make stuff in a snap. 

Here's the How To:
First, start with your original symbol. This is the music symbol for one of my students. 

 I took apart the symbol, grabbed two strong magnets and got to work with the Instamorph.

 I flipped the symbol foundation (the green thing you see) over and glued the magnet to the bottom.

I used my Instamorph and molded it into a joystick and made sure that I flattened the bottom so that I could Gorilla Glue it to the magnet.

It worked! I hovered the magnet joystick over the symbol (with the magnet on the bottom) and it instantly magnetized. Now my student can practice grasping things in a meaningful way and can make choices using their object calendar system. 

Improvement to be made: I will find thinner magnets for the back side OR make sure I put a piece of foam so that the symbol isn't slanted.
Of course you will have to modify based on your calendar system items. I actually did several more for my students. 
Now I can really work on two different goals with students easier: 1) grasping in a meaningful way and 2) encouraging students to make choices. Remember to go at the students' pace and teach/reinforce/practice a lot so that they get the meaningful piece of this.
Resources for calendar object systems:
Calendar Boxes and Schedule Systems as Literacy Tools
Check back to my other posts on calendar systems because I have posted several times about them in the past. 

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