Workshops on adapted art and adapted music offer low-tech tools and ideas for immediate application for teaching the arts to students with disabilities
A couple of years ago South Carolina's Assistive Technology Program (SCATP) Director Carol Page (Ph.D, CCC-SLP, ATP) decided it was time to branch out from offering "Trash to AT Treasures" her standard low-tech AT fabrication workshop. She was interested in doing something different. For help, she began brainstorming with her staff; together they realized they had offered many workshops to meet standard curriculum activities for students with disabilities--AT for reading, writing, and math-- but what about art and music?
Page was inspired by the work of Theodore Mickens, an art teacher in Greenvill, SC who is well known for adapted art strategies. So in 2010 she brought Mickens to the SCATP resource center to provide a workshop. She noted, however, that his projects required large spaces and equipment not everyone might readily have (such as using a plastic toddler pool for remote control car painting [see an inspiring picture of this at Mickens's Web site]). With Mickens's permission she began thinking how to adapt some of his ideas on a smaller scale for the classroom and for home. In 2011, SC AT Program's Adapted Art Make-and-Take and Adapted Music Make-and-Take were born.
For music, Page collaborates with Erin Bellinder who has a BA in music and runs the Bridges program at the Therapy Place, a rehabilitation center that has her routinely teaching and implementing creative solutions with children under age 6. Page also works with local Kindermusik Director Ally Trotter. For both art and music workshops, SCATP's goal is for participants to come away armed with adapted tools and instruments that they can put to immediate use with specific individuals they know. Everyday materials, dollar store goods, as well as freeware are demonstrated and/or provided.
Last year 15 participants attended each workshop. They were parents, special educators, and art and music teachers, mostly people who routinely work with children with significant disabilities. Some had not been to the SCATP resource center before, and while they were there they also learned about the device loan program and other SCATP services. The workshops were held in the resource room with many AT products and SCATP customized adaptations on display.
While Page goes over numerous advantages to low-cost AT solutions (i.e. "the simplest solutions are usually the best"), at the outset of each workshop she also reminds attendees of two low-tech project considerations to keep in mind:
1) It must be worth your effort or time, and
2) What looks low-cost may end up expensive once needed supplies and equipment are purchases.
Consequently most of SCATP's make-and-takes are fast and constructed from materials found around the house. "But we do meet a lot of people who aren't afraid to adapt things for switch use (and there's a big need), so that's probably the highest tech thing we do all day" (check out SCATP's no-soldering-required switch recipe!) Page also demonstrates Tux Paint, an engaging freeware application, and shows how it may be accessed using Camera Mouse (also freeware) for children who need a hands-free way to create.
To get the work out, SCATP advertises the workshops using their web site, listserv, as well as the listservs of several school districts. The program provides all the materials needed for the projects and what participants create they take home with them. To offset program costs, SCATP charges $10 for the Adapted Art workshop. "We want people to feel like when they leave, 'I can do this! This isn't going to cost me a small fortune and these aren't materials I can't find!'"
For more adapted are and music ideas, AT Program News readers can email Carol Page for a copy of SCATP's Adapted Art and Adapted Music Power Points. Page is with the USC School of Medicine, Center for Disability Resources, Department of Pediatrics, University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. Contact her to learn how to create paintings with a light box, a hanging frame for one-handed music adaptation, and much much more!