ACU Dallas Speech-Language Pathologist students, Abilene SLP students and engineering students are gathering for their annual adapt-a-thon Friday to adapt toys for children with physical disabilities to use in therapy.
Students will utilize the ACU Maker Lab to do this and this is the first time the engineering department will be involved in project.
Isabelle Jennings, National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association (NSSLHA) chapter president and senior, communication sciences and disorders major from Wichita Falls, said the engineering department has been working on adapting something of their own.
“The engineering department has been working on adapting a toy car for a student with physical disabilities,” Jennings said. “So, we thought that this would be a great opportunity to work with and learn from them and for inter-professional education experience.”
Students will meet in the Maker Lab and work in groups to adapt toys. This includes adapting switch toys, creating swivel chairs, using the 3D printers to create language symbols and adapting many other projects. The goal of the adapt-a-thon is to educate CSD students in how to adapt toys for their future use in therapy as well as to serve the larger community of SLPs. As well as this, it is hoped that engineering students will be able to contribute their knowledge of electronics and adaptations from the engineering perspective.
Katelyn Graham, junior engineering major from Roswell, New Mexico, will be involved in the adapt-a-thon this year.
“I hope to learn how to use the engineering skills that I learn in class to help impact people who need modifications for everyday objects,” Graham said. “This event will be a great way to begin learning about modifications that are needed for people with different abilities.”
This event often makes a big impact. The toys will be donated to local SLPs and the mission organization, Hope Speaks, an organization that a group of students work with every summer in Uganda. In Uganda, one in seven kids is born with a disability. In therapies meant to treat these disabilities, adapted toys can be very beneficial. However, it can be difficult to acquire these adaptations due to the skill of the SLP trying to adapt the toy.
Karsyn Delforge, junior communication sciences and disorders major from Birnamwood, Wisconsin explained the benefits of play in regards to adapted toys.
“A lot of times, kids with special needs don’t get the same opportunities for play that typically-developing kids do, due to their communication and/or physical barriers,” Delforge said. “Play is such an important part of development, and being able to take part in it is highly beneficial for these kids.”
This event is meant to bring people together to create something that will help the underrepresented population. The hope of those involved is that the individuals who receive these adapted toys feel seen and loved. Delforge’s favorite part of this event is getting to work together interprofessionally and see what can be accomplished.
“It’s just really cool to see it all come together,” Delforge said. “To imagine these toys in the hands of a kid who maybe hasn’t had that experience before is so encouraging. Knowing that I’m helping both SLPs and underrepresented kids is just so sweet and I’m blessed to be a part of it”
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