Category: Adapted Toys

Hair Salon Dramatic Play Kit

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I often see people asking for ideas to teach language through play in AAC groups on Facebook.  What I most commonly see as the suggestions are cause and effect toys like light up toys, wind up toys, sensory items, etc.  Frequently people write that their students with autism aren’t motivated by play and I almost never hear about students with severe physical disabilities engaging in play other than to direct it using their talkers.  I’ve thought a lot about this and came to the conclusion that this didn’t feel right.  Why are we not providing our students with disabilities with the same play opportunities as their peers?

With that in mind, I started to order toys for dramatic and pretend play.  I started using them with lots of different groups of students and guess what, they ALL love them.  Even some of my super tough to motivate to play, kids with autism are having a blast playing with these kits!  The most important piece, I think, is that I facilitate the play and never expect to just leave the toys with a group of students and see them successfully play.  It doesn’t always go smoothly the first time but it often does in subsequent sessions.  I play with these kits in individual sessions or in small groups with no more than four students at a time.  They are a HUGE hit.  I promise!

The first kit I decided to share is my hair salon kit.  My SLP intern and I have had so much fun playing with this kit in sessions.  It was our first “hit” and was loved by both boys and girls.  🙂  There are a bunch of accommodations so students with severe physical impairments can use switches to engage in pretend and dramatic play!

Students can use an adapted pourer and switch to “wash” the doll’s hair.  I attached velcro to the shampoo, conditioner, and a brush.

Students can “braid” or “twist” the doll’s hair using an adapted pourer and a switch!  I attached hard velcro on either side of the switch plate.  If you press a doll’s hair tightly into the hard velcro it will stick.  Then use the switch to have the pourer go around and around while it twists the hair!

Students can cut the dolls hair using adapted scissors and a switch (or any kind of adapted scissors).  I bought hair extensions (they were fairly cheap) and I let students cut the extensions so we don’t end up with dolls with no hair!

Students can blow dry her hair using a Powerlink and switch.

Here’s my PowerPoint with lesson ideas, accommodation explanations, etc.

Everything in the kit is labeled for easy use!

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Icons are available along with an eyegaze board to accommodate students who need to make choices using pictures.  These icons are also used to label the switch during switch adapted play.hs3
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Here is a link to items I bought.   Some of them were donated by a family member no longer using her American Girl doll items!

Enjoy!  Don’t hesitate to send an email if you’re interested in making this kit to use with your students or children! More to come! 🙂

Adapted Pop-Up Pirate Boardmaker Game

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We have been slowly chipping away at the stack of games and toys got to adapt through a grant. The most recent game has been Pop-up Pirate. I am still figuring out how I am going to adapt the actual game pieces (maybe some built up handles) but I went ahead and adapted it for a touch screen on Boardmaker. Click on any of the pictures below to download the file from Boardmaker Share.

Pirate Game (more…)

How to Make a Switch Adapted Toy

Lauren and I work with some pretty amazing students.  And our students love to play!  Unfortunately, some of them are unable to play with toys in a conventional way due to their physical disabilities.  We’ve ordered switch adapted toys online to incorporate into our play based activities, however, they are EXPENSIVE!!  If you search for switch adapted toys online you will see that they range in price from around $40- $200+ even though the non-adapted toy costs significantly less!  The stereo cable that makes the toy switch accessible usually only costs about one dollar.  That doesn’t seem right…

We’ve discovered that the best way to get our students MORE toys is to switch adapt them ourselves.  This weekend we recruited an SLP, OT, and tech-savvy friend to help us adapt some toys!  After a couple of botched attempts, we got the hang of it and were able to adapt 5 toys!  We’ll be posting soon about how we are going to use these toys in therapy, giving them a purpose!  You can check out our final products here.

We filmed the last toy we switch adapted so you can see how we did it!  You can watch the video on our YouTube Channel.

Read on for step by step instructions on switch adapting a toy!

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The Magic of Battery Interrupters

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I don’t know how I went for so long without knowing about these little beauties. Any toy with a single function operated by AA or AAA batteries (you can get these for other batteries as well) can be adapted by sliding the disk in between where the battery meets the metal on the side of the compartment or in between 2 batteries. Voila! You have a switch adapted toy. 

When possible, I suggest permanently switch adapting the toy using stereo plugs (this with definitely be in a future post), but a battery interrupter gets the job done quickly. 

Purchase on Amazon.com 

I used one with this traffic light when teaching about transportation. Students created maps of their community and added street signs and traffic lights to direct a remote controlled car through the streets.


*Remember, the switch is not the activity. Make sure that swith adapted toy serves a purpose in the larger activity.