Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shiny, Flappy Fidget Items for High Schooler

Yesterday I visited a high school class for students with significant cognitive disabilities.  One of the guys was working a giant Connect Four-type game while relaxing on the carpet.  This was a good break from sitting in his wheelchair and it allowed him to stretch out his legs and weightbear through his arms while leaning from side to side as he reached for the large checkers.

However, he seemed more interested in throwing the checkers around the room so he could giggle while the instructional aide darted around to pick them up--behind chairs, under desks, almost out the open window.

I wasn't sure how to tether the checkers so they would never sail too far away, but another idea came to mind.  I knew he liked to flap materials with his hands and he also liked shiny fabric, so I recalled the cheap car window shield I had bought at Big Lots last June.  Talk about shiny.  Here's how I made a flappy, fidget toy for him:

First, I cut strips about 6" wide by 36" long and covered the raw edges with colorful duct tape.
I think the duct tape will hold and not pull off too easily since this guy has difficulties with precise pinch.
The strip edged with yellow had a grommet built in, but the red and blue strips required some way to slide in a cord, so I doubled back one edge and duct taped it to form a type of wide loop.
A petite teacher friend is modeling a single flappy strip, with a length of surgical tubing threaded through the grommet, which then is connected to a belt around the waist.  For my student, I'll probably begin with attaching one strip of shiny fabric to the belt and add the red and blue strips over time.

The purpose of this fidget toy is to encourage him to stretch out his arms away from his body in order to flap the shiny material strips.  It's not exactly an "academic" tool for learning but it encourages greater excursion at the shoulders and elbows, promotes deeper breathing for a sedentary person and provides him with a fidget toy that no one has the joy of retrieving. 

Big caution--when a student is wearing a belt around the body he must always be carefully supervised just in case the belt gets wiggled into a position where is it restricting movement or respiration. 

Also, this student does not put items in his mouth, but your student might.

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