Accessing the Environment: Seating/Positioning/Mobility
Before your child can establish a group of friends, it is necessary to make sure that he or she is able to access the school environment. A qualified professional, such as a physical therapist (PT), should conduct this assessment. Some of the questions that the PT may ask include: Is your child able to sit independently to engage in tabletop activities? Are your child’s hands free to manipulate various items/ materials (e.g. Play Dough, instruments, etc.)? Can your child sit independently on the floor to engage in classroom activities or does he or she need assistance or support? What kind of positioning aids and supports are needed? Is your child able to move around the classroom independently? If not, what mobility devices need to be considered? Are the pathways in the classroom wide enough for your child to maneuver around to gain access to the various areas of the classroom? Can your child access the play equipment on the yard? For example, do they need an adapted swing? Do they need assistance to sit-up to ride in the wagon? Can they ride a tricycle with their classmates? Are they able to access the sandbox or water table? Are they able to play basketball with their friends? What modified equipment needs to be considered?
It would be difficult for your child to make friends if they were unable to access the same areas as their classmates. Assistive technology may help your child participate in all of these activities and more. Some potential AT devices include wheelchair accessible basketball hoops, raised sensory tables for water and sand, bubble machines that a child can activate with a switch to blow bubbles with their friends, adapted tricycles, weighted vests, sitting wedges, weighted or tactile balls, ball pools and scooter boards, along with a variety of other adapted play equipment that can be used to promote interactions and active participation in play with friends. In addition, your child’s AAC device could be programmed to provide him or her with the opportunity to participate in activities in which he or she may otherwise have difficulty engaging. For example, cheering for classmates playing a game (e.g. basketball) or calling out directions during an activity (e.g. “Red Light/ Green Light” or “Simon Says”).