Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dressing Boards for Children with Multiple Impairments

This is a project that I did a couple of years ago for a student that had CVI and CP. He was a youngster who was in a hospital bed and needed his mom to physically assist with him with many tasks. His team called me in because his mom wanted to find a way for him to be independent about picking out his clothes.

Here's the situation: when dressing, he cannot sit up or walk over to pick out clothes. Here's what I want all of you to read very carefully: there are still ways we can help our students be independent!! It doesn't matter what their needs are. We can still encourage choices and initiation.

Here's what I did: First I had to interview mom and find out more about the dressing routine. She dresses him in the morning alone. He can grasp items. He can see red very well. These are some of the things I wrote down as I interviewed mom. After talking to mom and then observing their dressing routine, I had an idea and headed off to the fabric store. I purchased a sturdy, thick foam board, red shiny with sequins fabric and clothes pins. Next, I whipped out my all purpose industrial hot glue gun and industrial strength velcro and got to work. See picture below.

Here's what I made: a dressing frame that he could use to 'pick out' his clothes.
Here's how it works: Mom puts his shirt on the board using the clothes pins. She holds it above him (as he is laying down in his bed) and using a combination of hand under hand and verbal cues (and PATIENCE), she has him feel the collar of the shirt.

Here's the language: She uses scripted, consistent language (especially in the beginning when teaching the new routine):
1.Here's your shirt.
2. Feel the collar (all of his shirts have collars)
3. Grab your shirt. He has a fantastic grasp so he can grab his shirt and pull it off the frame.

Mom repeats the same sequence with his pants:
1. Here's your pants.
2. Feel the zipper.
3. Grab your pants.

Now the beauty of this is that it is homemade. It's easy and fast to replace. Eventually the clothespins will come off. I bought mom a bag of them that she could replace as needed. The total cost was about $10.

I used sparkly, red fabric because he has CVI. After he demonstrates understanding of the sequence, mom can start offering him a choice. Which does he want to pick out first: his pants or his shirt? He can tactually initiate and make his choice.

There was one tricky thing that I had to think about when making this initially. Mom has to do all of this by herself and has about 5 minutes--max to do it in. Being a single mom to preschool age students, I got the bind mom was in. I needed to make her something that she could put on and use without needing a second pair of hands. Check out the picture below! I added velcro straps on the back! This little guy just slides onto her arm and she can hold it above her son and help him hand under hand without needing a second pair of hands! I practiced with it several times and could slip it on in about ten seconds.

This dressing frame was the foundation to dressing skills and independent living skills for this preschooler. He can't use this forever but it is the start to daily living skills.

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