Marshall graduate students create and donate toys for all motor capabilities


CABELL COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — Marshall University students and faculty in the Department of Communication Disorders created and donated toys to Davis Creek Elementary School.

“October is ‘Augmentative and Alternative Communication month.’ We try to just bring awareness to our community during this month about alternative and augmentative communication, or AAC,” says Kelly Young, M.A., CCC-SLP, a speech and language pathologist at Marshall University.

 According to Young, AAC has two focuses: one is providing alternative modes of communication, and the other is giving the student access to their environment. To reach both of these goals, Young and some of her graduate clinicians created switch-activated toys for students with all types of motor capabilities.

“Some examples of switches are as simple as this is a button switch, that a student could use their whole hand to activate.  And this is called the ultimate switch, and it has a lot of different possibilities. You can activate this with the side of your head. You can activate this with your foot. Whatever motoric ability you have there is a switch to meet that need,” Young says.

Andrea Reuben, one of the graduate clinicians who worked on the toys, says the process was fairly simple.

“We had to open up the toy from where the button was that you press it at, and pull the wires out… We used a soldering iron, we connected the wires together and put a phone jack on it, [and] we can connect anything to it, any switch,” Reuben says.

Once the toys with their new switches were developed, the toys were donated to Davis Creek Elementary School, to the delight of students there.

Speech-Language Pathologist Selena Lucas at Davis Creek Elementary School says having access to switch-operated toys like these is extremely beneficial to learning, playing, and even socializing.

“Just for them to be able to learn that cause and effect relationship of, ‘hey, this action causes this reaction,’ it’s a huge step for our severe-profound program for our students in there,” Lucas says.

These toys were also altered to show how cost-effective and simple it can be to adapt toys to any capability.

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