Basically put AT is something that increases, improves or maintains someone’s functional capability. This can be through methods such as computers, augmentative communication devices and environmental control systems.
One piece of AT that is commonly available is a switching device attached to a children’s toy. The child presses the switch and, depending on the toy, there will be a response (usually movement or music). This helps to teach the child basic cause and effect relationships. The game play and entertainment aspect is another very important reasoning behind switch activated toys. To a child play is meaningful occupation. Play is the arena for the development of sensory integration, physical abilities, cognitive and language skills, and interpersonal relationships (Knox, 2010). The switch activated toys can also promote social interaction between child, therapist, family and other children. The toys may provide a discussion point and the musical toys may provide an opportunity for a sing-along or dance/gentle movement.
Without the use of assistive technology children with physical disabilities may face occupational deprivation. This is the inability to engage in desired and appropriate occupations because of some external restriction (Parham, 2008). Through playing with switch operated toys children may be able to partake in otherwise unattainable activities.
Here is a video from AbleNet Inc demonstrating switch activated toys:
Here is information on one type of toy that is permanently switch adapted:
Here is information on one type of switch that is recommended for use with the above toy:
Knox, S. (2010). Play. In J. Case-Smith & J. O’Brien (Eds.), Occupational therapy for children (6th ed.) (pp. 540-554). Missouri, USA: Mosby Elsevier.
Parham, L.D. (2008). Play and occupational therapy. In L.D. Parham & L. Fazio (Eds.), Play in occupational therapy for children (2nd ed.) (pp. 395-412). Missouri, USA: Mosby Elsevier.
Stoller, L.C. (1998). Low-tech assistive devices: A handbook for the school setting. Framingham, MA: Therapo, Inc.