Local roboticist teams adapt interactive toys for easier manipulation
By: ASU Now
Two local robotics teams just made the holidays more accessible for 20 local children who face challenges manipulating interactive toys.
Arizona State University’s Desert WAVE and a high school team from Chandler, Arizona, called Degrees of Freedom, joined forces last weekend at CREATE at the Arizona Science Center, to “hack” toys for children with disabilities. Both teams were founded by the local Si Se Puede Foundation.
“When I look at the kids that we are able to help, I see just that: kids,” said Desert WAVE member Jessica Dirks, an ASU sophomore with a double major in human systems engineering and robotics. “They have hopes and dreams and love toys just as much as I do. The only thing separating us is the size of a switch — and that is something I am confident and capable of changing for these fellow dreamers.”
While commercially adapted toys exist for children with physical limitations, they can cost up to four times the retail cost of similar, off-the-shelf toys. The adaptations made during the event cost less than $5 in parts and required basic electrical skills, like soldering, provided by the two teams.
The modified toys help children develop functional skills like problem-solving, offer a foundation for socialization, and perhaps most importantly, have fun with toys.
“My favorite moment of this event was right after I finished adapting my first toy,” said Khushi Parikh, a sophomore at Gilbert Classical Academy and part of the Degrees of Freedom team.
The New York Times Parenting section recently featured an essay by NCDJ Board member and journalist Amy Silverman, who elucidates the challenges parents face when it comes to choosing the right school for kids with disabilities. Silverman discusses what it was like to transition her daughter Sophie, who has Down syndrome, into a local elementary school and describes navigating red tape and school administrators to ensure Sophie would receive support services suited to her needs.
The article also mentions that it is important for parents of children with disabilities to understand the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and provides a link to an overview of the federal law.
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CLICK HERE to watch the trailer for “The Silent Child”. CLICK BELOW to watch Shenton and Overton’s acceptance speech.
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Check out the National Down Syndrome Society’s “Preferred Language Guide” for a quick and helpful tutorial on communicating about DS.
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