Switch Adapted Toys

Kids love toys.  They love to play games.  Kids with disabilities have the same needs and desires.  Switch adapted toys make it possible for children to use and enjoy different kinds of toys without asking for help.

So what is a switch adapted toy?

Switch adapted toy dog credited to University of Maine at Farmington
Switch adapted toy dog credited to University of Maine at Farmington

A battery operated toy is modified with a switch (generally a large colorful button) that can be pressed to turn the toy on or off by opening or closing the circuit.  This makes it easier for those who may have trouble with original on/off controls.

Prices for toys that have been switch adapted vary, and are usually based on the complexity of the toy’s functions.  AdaptivePlay offers a variety of toys that are switch adapted, such as baby dolls, action figures, and plush animals.  They even include batteries!  While browsing their website, you can watch videos for each product to see it in action.  Check out their adapted Playskool Busy Lil Garden Butterfly.

If you would like to adapt a toy on your own, there are a few different ways to do it.  One way is to interrupt the electricity flowing from the battery to the motor with a piece of copper.  The Alliance for Technology Access provides a detailed description on how to do this. Another method is hardwiring the toy to be switch adapted.  This technique actually requires you to re-wire the toy itself.  I found an excellent step by step guide from SMA Support Inc. Both require very few tools, most of which are available at Radioshack.

Switches themselves can get pretty expensive, but because they can be plugged and unplugged from each adapted toy, they get used over and over again.  Enabling Devices has a large assortment, including switches that are large round colors, textured, sound activated, and much more.  My personal favorite is the Pig switch!

Thanks to switch adapted toys, children with disabilities can enjoy their independence while getting to engage in recreation.  The INDATA AT Loan Library currently has a few switch adapted toys in its inventory, and is scheduled to add more.   For suggestions, contact Carol Girt at cgirt@eastersealscrossroads.org.