Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate friendship and love. In order to celebrate, many classrooms have each student bring in Valentine’s for their peers. It’s a day of passing around homemade crafts, “punny” knick knacks, and of course candy and other sweet treats! At CI, we believe every kid should be able to participate in making and passing out Valentine’s Day goodies, regardless of their ability.---

We want to share four accessible Valentine’s Day activities that clients at CI have loved! These each involve adapting a component of the activity with switches and environmental controls to allow the child to access the activity in a different way with increased independence. Providing children with the greatest level of independence possible improves their self-esteem, empowers them to be active participants throughout their routine, and contributes to their overall growth and development. In addition, if your child accesses a communication device in an alternative way (e.g., with a switch), these are motivating ways to practice the access! Keep an eye out on our social media over the next few weeks to check out some how-to videos for portions of each of these activities!

1. Baking Valentine’s Day Cupcakes

What you’ll need:
1. Your favorite cupcake ingredients, electric hand mixer, Powerlink, electric pourer, the switch of your choice

2. Your child can participate in food preparation when kitchen appliances are switch-adapted with a Powerlink. When you plug any electronic with an of/off switch into the Powerlink, it allows that electronic to be turned on and off with a switch (which is also plugged into the Powerlink). Plug the electric hand mixer into the Powerlink, and your child can turn it on to mix these ingredients together on their own. Then a switch can be plugged into the adapted pourer, and your child can pour the cupcake batter into the cupcake tin with a simple switch hit!

Powerlink 
Hand mixer

2. Crafting Accessible Valentines

What you’ll need:
1. Paint, paper, switch adapted Spin Art (Spin Art, battery interrupter, switch of your choice for access)

2. Since Spin Art is powered by a battery, you can easily switch adapt this activity with a battery interrupter. After installation of the battery interrupter, you can use any external switch to act as the on/off switch for the Spin Art. Battery interrupters can be purchased or made! If you’re interested in making your own, instructions are readily available after a quick internet search, or CI also has a handout!

Spin Art

3. Saying a Valentine’s Day Message

What you’ll need:
1. A voice output switch
i. Follow the directions for the voice output switch you are using to record a Valentine’s Day message of your choice. Some voice output switches allow for one message to be recorded, while others allow you to record a series of messages that can be played back in sequence. The possibilities are endless with this activity!

2. You can buy affordable single message switches on Amazon for under $20! Voice output switches with options for recording multiple messages or attaching external switches for ease of access.

3. Some ideas to record on your voice output switches
Valentine’s day Jokes:
“What did the stamp say to the envelope?” “I’m stuck on you”
“What did the owl say to his sweetheart?” “Owl be yours”
“Happy Valentine’s Day!”

Switches

4. Be the Valentine’s Day DJ
What you’ll need:
1. A computer or tablet with Valentine’s Day playlist, a wired or bluetooth switch interface, a switch of your choice

2. Once you have a playlist created (YouTube is an easy option), connect your switch interface to your computer or tablet. For a wired switch interface this should be as easy as plugging it into the USB port. For bluetooth options, you will have to connect through settings and turn on switch access. Most switch interfaces have several “modes” that help control a different function of the computer/tablet. This might be a swipe or a tap for a tablet, or a click, spacebar, or enter for a computer. Determine the function you need to use to play the music or advance to the next song in the playlist, turn that on, and plug in your switch to the interface. For an added bonus activity you can plug a disco ball into a PowerLink to turn it on and off with a switch!

Sometimes making an activity accessible can be as easy as adding a switch! Figuring out the best fit for switch access can sometimes be a long process, and involves lots of repetition and practice to learn. You can build in more practice opportunities throughout the routines of kids who are learning to use switches to access communication by adapting every day activities to be accessed by that same switch. Since there are a variety of switch types out there and almost unlimited options for where the switch can be placed for easy access, you can talk to your child’s occupational therapist or speech-language pathologist for recommendations about what would be best for your child.

CI’s AACcelerate Program is a 4-week high-frequency speech-language and occupational therapy program which focuses on feature matching and alternative access training, while developing a collaborative plan for a customized augmentative alternative communication (AAC) system for your child. For more information about this program check out our website, or contact the Annabeth Knight: annabethk@citherapies.com or Mara Jonet: maraj@citherapies.com

Annabeth Knight, OTD., OTR/L and Mara Jonet, MA., CCC-SLP