Easy Adaptations for the Home or the Classroom

By: MaryAnn Demchak

This tip sheet provides inexpensive and easy to implement adaptations that can make activities easier for your child – at home or in the classroom. Some of the suggestions can be used in a wide variety of activities and other ideas are specific to certain routines or activities.

  • To make self-dressing easier, you can use zipper pulls. Although you can buy actual zipper pulls, you can also use homemade ones using a key chain as a zipper pull. Giving the child a large area or something easy to grasp can make it easier for him to zip and unzip a piece of clothing such as a jacket.
  • Does your child have trouble tying her shoes? You can try shoes with Velcro closures, but you can also try using “no tie” or elastic shoelaces.
  • Are there difficulties with the dinner plate or toys or other objects not staying in one spot and sliding around as the child tries to eat or tries to play? You can try non-slip shelf liner (available at many dollar stores). You can simply cut a small piece to help stabilize whatever it is the child is using.
  • Similarly, a box lid, tray, or water bottle box can be used to help keep materials in one place (Please see “How to Keep Items from Rolling Off the Table or Wheelchair Tray”)
  • Perhaps the issue is not materials sliding around, but your child sliding in the chair. You could use the non-slip shelf liner on the chair seat. You could also try any kind of decorative bathtub decals or treads placed on the chair seat.
  • Does your child need a slant board to make it easier for him to use his vision or perhaps to make tasks easier to complete using his motor skills? A large 3-ring notebook can easily be converted to a slant board. You can use hot glue to anchor a clip to the top end so that the clip can then be used to hold items in place. Having items angled on a slant board can make it easier to use vision. The slant board might also make it easier for the child to reach to complete activities.
  • The coloring book on the slant board shows another simple adaptation. You can use puffy paint or glitter glue to create raised lines for art activities.
  • Are regular crayons difficult for your child to use? There are many commercially available crayons that might be easier for to use. Crayola sells  “Twistable Slick Stix” crayons that glide on easily with very little pressure.
  • Is it difficult for your child to hold onto cards for games? You can make a simple card holder using two hot drink lids or two plastic lids from something like canned nuts. Put a small amount of hot glue in the centers of the lids or use a brad to hold the lids together.
  • Would you like it to be easier for your child to locate switch plates to turn room lights on and off? Consider using colored switch plates that contrast with the color of the wall.
  • Similarly, it can be easier for your child to see soap in a color that contrasts with the color of the sink.
  • What about food on a plate or on another kitchen utensil? Which is easier to see — yellow on blue (or another dark background) or yellow on yellow?
  • In which cups is it easier to see the drink?
  • Consider the contrast between the drink and cup. The greater the contrast the easier it is to see that there is a beverage in the cup.
  • Bath or soap mitts can serve two different purposes. You can have your child use them so that it is easier to participate in the bathing routine. It can be easier to wash by wearing a bath mitt than by having to hold onto a cloth or bath scrubbie.
  • These bath mitts can also be used for assisted grasping. If you add Velcro to an item, these bath mitts will cling to the Velcro to make it easier for the child to grasp the item.
  • Would you like your child to assist in turning pages during story time? Try using various devices that can make turning pages easier. You can use small chip clips attached to pages as shown in the book to the right. You could also add small binder clips to the pages or self-adhesive index tabs to make it easier for the pages to be turned.
  • Page fluffers are another simple adaptation to make it easier for a child to participate in turning pages. Page fluffers create a small space between pages that make it easier to get one’s fingers between the pages.

There are many other simple adaptations that could be used. These are just a few ideas to get you started. Adaptations are as endless as your creativity!