People with Cerebral Palsy have trouble controlling/practicing their fine motor skills. Because of this, everyday clothing that contains zippers and buttons are difficult to put on. Changing clothing can be an annoying and anxious time for kids with Cerebral Palsy; we want kids to have a fun way to practice getting dressed. We boiled down the skills involved with zippers and buttons and came up with games that would allow kids to practice these skills. This vest not only allows kids to practice the basic motions behind zippers and buttons, but is also naturally fun and entertaining.
The skills involved in zippering and buttoning are pulling, pinching, holding (two hands), and slipping through a small opening. The games associated with each skill vary from spinners to levers to fill-in-hole matching toys. Every toy on the vest has a specific purpose.
Many pieces of clothing made for someone with CP are adaptive and simplify the process of getting dressed and undressed, but the Skills Vest teaches the kids to possibly be able to use the zippers and buttons on everyday clothing. This eliminates the purchase of an entire adaptive wardrobe.
We have been expanding on this project for the past two weeks. Since beginning our 2nd studio on the Skills Vest, we have transformed the vest. We delved into occupational therapy and why therapists recommend certain toys for children. After studying these toys and understanding their different therapeutic uses, we incorporated the existing toys into our vest. We then gave our vest an age appropriate theme (Farm) and reinvented our toys to farm animals. In the diagram above, each toy is shown and each of their individual skills are highlighted.
Our vest is special because it can be individualized to each child wearing it. Since the toys are attachable and detachable, toys can be placed wherever is most convenient and beneficial for the child. Along with this feature, the vest can also be individualized by levels of games. If a child masters the beginners games, they can "move up" a level and attempt something more advanced.
We began by brainstorming a variety of new therapeutic toys after examining what the "pros" and "cons" were of each existing toy. After brainstorming, we organized a few selected toys on the wall in a color coordinated display. Next, we gave our vest a cohesive idea. We styled the vest to have an animal theme. We made toys in the shapes of some things you might find on a farm. Our prototype is in the photo above. The final Vest resembles this, but is smaller, double-lined, different colors, and finely sown.