Playing is an essential part of child growth and development. Learning to activate a toy teaches a child cause/effect and choice making…two essential skills for communication. For children with disabilities who cannot activate the buttons and controls on toys through typical means, we recommend a switch adapted toy. When a toy is switch adapted that means that the internal switches are modified with an external connection to an ability button. Ability buttons can come in a variety of sizes, colors, and means of activation to suit the child’s needs. The buttons can be positioned such that the child can activate it with a hand, foot, elbow, head, etc….whatever the child can use to best target!
Check out the resources below to learn more about switch adapted toys!
There are several assistive technology vendors that sell toys that are already modified with a switch jack for an ability button. Vendors like Enabling Devices. Adaptive Tech Solutions, or Ablenet Inc are reliable sources for toys that have already been modified.
Switch adapted toys can be costly, and families with disabled children are already overwhelmed with expenses. Guardians may only be able to purchase one or two switch adapted toys for the child which is why it makes a great gift!
Don’t forget the ability buttons! In order to utilize a switch adapted toy you also need the ability buttons (external switches). These can also be costly depending on the type but the good news is they are interchangeable with the toy. Depending on the child they may need 2 to 4 switches to start with. Consult with local AT specialists like a speech language pathologist, occupational or physical therapist, or a rehab engineer to determine the right type of button for the child. Vendors like Enabling Devices or Ablenet Inc are reliable sources for ability buttons though there are many options online.
Unfortunately since the vendors who sell pre modified toys are incurring the cost of the toy, the cost of supplies, and charging for the labor and redistribution…the cost of a toy that is modified can be 3-4 times the cost of the original toy.
Thankfully, with less than $10 and some basic electrical and soldering skills you can learn to modify your own toys and save a lot of cash!
Do your research though! Make sure you understand what types of toys can be modified easily and how to complete the process before jumping in. There is no shortage of instruction guides online and soon we’ll have more posted here on StarTraining.org! Until then take a look at AT Makers website as well as an older Adapting Toys blog post from StarTraining.org that provides step by step instructions on switch adapting a toy.