How to Use Switches with a Non-Verbal, Non-Abulatory Kiddo

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“I am working with a 5 year old boy with spastic quadriplegia CP – he is non-ambulatory, has low vision, and is non-verbal. My OT and I are considering use of of switches that vibrate/light up. Do you have any info on this type of population? I work with him both at home and school, and I am not even sure where to start, or what I can offer his school team/family. If you can direct me to any resources you may have that would be so appreciated! If there is anyway to increase inclusion on the classroom, that would be awesome (I’ve heard about the ‘All Turn It Spinner”” and have checked it out online, but am having trouble figuring out how I’d use it in the class). Also, I’m thinking cause and effect switches, and maybe even a single message switch (like the big Mack). The OT is investigating possible switch access, we are considering his foot”

Get a Switch-Mounting Kit:

This should be done by someone other than you, but make sure that the child has a switch that is mounted in a specific location so he always knows where it is and how to access it.


How to Use the Switch for AAC:

1.Get a Big Mack type button that will allow one message to be recorded and played.  Use it to request more of something during an activity:

2. Once the child gets better at that, get a leveled communicator that will have different messages on the same button.  The child will push the button multiple times until they find the message they want.

3. Once the child gets better at that, you can move to a scanning type device where there are large pics or auditory cues in front of the child and the device scans between the buttons and the child hits the switch when it gets to the right message:

How to Use the Switch for Classroom Participation:

1. Hook the switch up to the radio and have the child turn on and off the music to be the “DJ” for the class.  We used to have the child do this during snack because he was tube fed so he couldn’t participate in snack with his peers.

2. Hook the switch up to a battery-operated toy that the child can turn on and off to show the other children

3. Use a Big Mack AAC button to program a specific message for the child to say during class participation