How to Keep Items from Rolling Off the Table or Wheelchair Tray

By: MaryAnn Demchak

Has your child or one of your students ever had toys or other items roll off the table or wheelchair tray and then been unable to find them? As the child reaches for the toy, item, or switch does he or she knock it out of reach? Has the child become frustrated or upset when this happens? Is it sometimes difficult for you to repeatedly return to the child to help him/her put the toy or item back on the table or wheelchair tray or place it within the child’s reach? Perhaps these solutions might help you:

  • Use a tray (e.g., cafeteria tray—see picture) with raised edges to help keep items within the child’s reach. (If your child’s school cafeteria still uses trays, perhaps they would allow you to borrow one. Please do not take one without asking!)
  • Even using a trimmed down cardboard box the size of a tray provides a nice boundary to keep items in place. Paper boxes work well and can be picked up at an office supply store.
  • When using a tray or cut-down cardboard box, be sure to keep them free of stickers, drawings, or other busy backgrounds. Even though you might think a decorated tray or box top is more visually appealing, you can make it very difficult for the child to discriminate between the items on the tray and the tray itself due to the busy background you created.
  • Keep in mind that you might need to create a contrasting background on the tray or box by covering it with construction paper or felt. The contrasting background can make it easier for the child to use his vision to see what is placed on the tray or box.
  • To help keep the tray or other items in place, use material such as non-skid shelf/drawer liner (see the picture below). Place the non- skid liner on the table top and/or on the tray itself and then place the toy, switch, or other item on top of the liner. The non-skid shelf/ drawer liner can be purchased at any major drug store or super store as well as purchased in bulk at fabric stores. You can cut the liner to the size you need.

You can also use Velcro™ to hold an item in place by placing one side of the Velcro on the bottom of the toy, item, or switch and the other side of the Velcro™ on the tray. Using heavy duty Velcro™ can be more effective than using light-weight Velcro™.