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Occupational therapy students adapt toys for children with special needs

Students in ACU’s occupational therapy program created a special kind of holiday magic by turning the Maker Lab into a Santa’s workshop for children with special needs.

The project was part of the Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics course required for students earning their Master of Science in occupational therapy.


Occupational therapy students adapt toys for special needs children
Lindsey Browning and Laura Oakley work in the Maker Lab to create a special game.

Students in the class were divided into groups of two or three, and each group was assigned a child with a disability. Group members were then challenged to adapt a toy based on the needs and interests of their particular child.

Lindsey Browning and classmate Laura Oakley were asked to create a toy for a youngster who needed to work on his grasp.

“Immediately we thought of checkers, because you pick the pieces up all the time and move them around,” Browning said. “We needed to add a strengthening component because he also needed to work on hand strengthening, so we added Velcro for resistance.”

The toys were created in the Maker Lab and presented to the children just before Christmas, much to the delight of the recipients and their families.

The project addressed two objectives in the OT curriculum: innovation and service, said program director Dr. Hope Martin.

Browning especially liked the service component. “I think God calls us to serve other people, and really the whole reason I went into occupation therapy was because I wanted God to use me in a way that would bring meaning and purpose into people’s lives,” she said.

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