Assistive technology interventions for young children often include easy, inexpensive adaptations to the environment and materials. Adaptations mean making simple changes to existing items (e.g., toys, books, and spoons), are usually “low tech” in nature and often created by parents, teachers, and therapists. For example, the handle of a paint brush or marker can be enlarged by placing it in a foam hair roller or tennis ball to help a child who may have difficulty grasping or holding onto small, slender objects. Other examples of adaptations include placing a towel roll in a high chair to help a child sit upright, propping a book on an easel for easier page turning, or stabilizing a toy using Velcro or magnets.

Video 5.6: Using an adapted tricycle

An adult adapts a tricycle with a belt and foot pedals to help a child participate in riding bikes with other children on the playground and also to help with physical delays (running time 3 min. 18 sec.).

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With children with any kind of gross motor delay, it makes a lot of sense to do their physical therapy intervention right on the playground.  Here we’re seeing a child with some balance and strength deficits and he’s just beginning to be able to participate more in some of the peer activities.  One of the roles that I have at the center is to come up with different adaptations which allow the children to be more successful in the same activities as their classmates.

Here you can see with just some simple adaptations to this tricycle that Josh is able to have a good experience with his peers.  One of the things that I like about the playground is that there’s always a large number of children out there with me and it’s usually very easy to get at least one peer if not a group of peers participating in the activity both just in a social way or modeling for the child. I mean it’s not something we set up but they’ll just be doing the same activity and it does provide a great model.

But also as you see, sometimes we have children be little helpers, too.

Josh has already learned how to pedal.  He’s a little bit rusty in this tape because we’re just getting back from winter vacation but his peddling has been going really well.  But he’s having trouble initiating the peddling so that’s what we’re working on in this segment – how to get the trike going from a standstill.

There, he finally gets going.  So I’m looking for some children to play a little Red Light – Green Light game and Mickey who was in the first part of this little segment comes along and participates with us.


Want to play Stop & Go?  OK, when I say Red Light…    Stop!   Green light… Go!

Go! Pedal, pedal, pedal, keep going! Oh good job.

And red light… Stop!   Uh Oh!  That’s good.  I was almost gonna give you a ticket.   OK, ready to go?  That’s right, back up and push hard with that foot and Go!   OK… red light!  Stop!