This year, in an effort to give back, we have started a new organization called Santa's Little Hackers, as part of a larger organization, which is yet to be announced.
Our mission is making fun accessible to everyone by adapting toys for those who need assistance.
Max first started with switch adapted toys as a little guy. In speech and occupational therapy he used the switches to activate toys to get an immediate reaction. That reaction taught Max that when he presses the switch it makes the rooster crow, and later, when he presses a switch it makes his communication device talk for him.
|Max with his first switch adapted toy, a walking giraffe.|
Through the years, Max's toys have graduated from giraffes and roosters and lights turning on and off to jumping spiders and fart blasters. One thing that hasn't changed, Max still loves to play just like every other 11 year old out there, he just needs a little more help to be able to play independently.
Toys are rarely designed with the needs of those with different abilities in mind. By making simple modifications to the electronics of toys, they can be enjoyed by children with limited fine motor skills and physical abilities.
Through our webpage, word of mouth, and Facebook page, we are getting requests from all over the country to provide adapted toys to children AND adults for the holidays. You might be wondering what is a switch adapted toy, and why are we making this our mission.
Most typical children can access a toy using their fine motor skills, pushing Elmo's belly to make him sing, or pressing a trigger on a Minion fart blaster to get a laugh out of all his friends. For children and adults missing those basic functional skills, play becomes a game of a caregiver or therapist doing most of the work of making the toy work to activate the toy. This takes the independence away from the individual lacking the fine motor skills. When we place a adapted toy in front of someone who can choose when they would like to activate it by using a switch it gives them a level of control they wouldn't have otherwise.
This is Max using one of the toys we adapted for his birthday.
You can watch the progression of understanding he is making that happen by hitting his switch. Prior to adapting the toy, we would push the trigger and laugh, and while Max would ask for more, there wasn't much he could do with the toy. Now, he gets his toy and loves to interrupt any conversation lull with a big ol' minion fart, which ALWAYS gets a laugh out of everyone in the room.
We aren't providing therapy toys. We're providing toys to children to play with for the holidays. All children, of all ages like to play with toys at their level. That's why we're doing it.
Yes, there are these toys readily available on the internet. They are incredibly expensive. One example is a very, very simple toy I found as I was putting our Amazon.com wish list together. It's one of those animals you can see in toy stores that makes a noise and moves it legs. It was priced at $20, and I could find it much cheaper if I bought it in bulk. The next item on the Amazon search was the same toy. Only it had a little cord hanging out of it, for a switch to be plugged into to activate it. That same toy with a $5 adaption raised the price of the toy by $60.
The very people who need the most assistance with play, are the ones being taken advantage of because they need it. We're trying to do our part to change that. We are a family, who have asked our child's speech therapist to help us start this organization. We want play to be accessible to everyone, regardless of ability. We are accepting requests from individuals of varying ages. We've had requests for toddlers, all the way to adults with developmental disabilities.
If you would like to help out, check out our webpage to see what you can do. If you know of someone who uses switches to activate toys feel free to request a toy for them on our webpage.