Assistive Technology is Closer Than We Think

February 21, 2017
Posted By: Kerrie Mason

Following is the first blog from our Assistive Technology Committee.   They will be exploring the benefits of all different types of assistive equipment that help people with disabilities on a daily basis.  This first feature is about something we all use every day and may take for granted, but once adapted is a tool that makes life a bit easier for those with a disability.   By: Dan Kakitis, Residential Program Director / AT Committee

Assistive Technology is Closer than We Think

Assistive Technology (AT), sounds like a box full of big ideas and flashing lights inside a box full of big ideas and flashing lights inside a box full of big ideas and… well, you get the idea.  The concept of AT is enormous and always brings to mind high tech expensive devices geared to help someone speak, hear, walk or run.  To a point, it is all of these things and more.   AT is a whole host of wonderfully creative tools to help a person with disabilities realize a function of life otherwise unavailable to them.

Quite often, simple everyday items might hold the key to help make life easier for those we support here at Venture.  Whether it be oversized salt and pepper shakers, spill proof cups with spouts to make drinking easier, uniquely shaped spoons to aid eating, or the focus of today’s blog, electric toothbrushes.

There are dozens of electric toothbrushes on the market: Variable speed, multiple brush choices with clever actions, shuffling bristles, rotating bristles, or both shuffling and rotating, even wave-like action bristles.  They come with a multitude of attachments: soft rubber nubs, stiff rubber prongs, tooth-picking attachments of almost any size and shape, a seemingly infinite number of attachments.  All of these options provide a variety of sensory choices, especially to our autistic population.

An electric toothbrush can become a valuable method of sensory intervention to help to soothe and calm during moments of fear and anxiety. The many different rubber spiked or knobby heads work great as massage tools for gums and tongue or to just to clench teeth on to send the vibration sensation through their mouths to their heads.  Something as simple as an electric toothbrush becomes an adaptive tool assisting those we support in an area that has long been a point of anxiety in their lives and is truly the foundation of Assistive Technology.

We, on the AT committee, challenge residential programs to review items that are already in use or to use an assessment tool to discover other items that may be useful to those we support as methods to help foster independence in their lives.

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