For parents, caregivers and teachers of kids with physical disabilities, having a proper chair or desk in which to eat, learn or play can be an incredible challenge. In the world of special needs, Alex Truesdell will tell you from experience that one size definitely does not fit all.
Alex is the visionary behind the Adaptive Design Association AdaptiveDesign.org, a non-profit group that she founded in 1998. Based on a successful program model she developed for the Perkins School for the Blind, the Adaptive Design Association ensures that children with disabilities obtain the customized equipment they need to thrive in home, school, and community life. To this end, Adaptive Design offers training in adaptive design, builds customized equipment, and promotes a broad-based expansion of adaptive design services and education in schools, hospitals, and communities.
“When I was asked to take on this initiative, the challenge was tremendous,” said Alex. “Sustaining a non-profit is difficult in New York, but children everywhere need customized adaptive solutions — and this agency is all about inspiring people to take notice.”
When asked about her organization’s most noteworthy achievements, Alex lists many, including:
• Adaptive Design has created customized equipment for hundreds of children with unique positioning, health, and/or developmental needs
• The association has provided hands-on classes for teachers and therapists working in public and private schools throughout New York City
• They maintain a “Never Say No” policy, so children get equipment, as soon as the Adaptive Design Association can make and deliver it, or teachers can take classes, even when reimbursement is doubtful or impossible
• 126 women in transition have completed work-readiness internships, gaining transferable workplace skills
• They have introduced undergraduate and graduate students in Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy to adaptive-design technologies through internships and fieldwork experiences
• The Adaptive Design Association uses eco-responsible materials – one of their favorites is three-layered corrugated cardboard and wooden nails.
“The children we create equipment for and their families are obvious beneficiaries, but the people who design, build, and decorate the equipment, as well as the classmates, and the wider community, also benefit immeasurably,” added Alex.
For more information on the Adaptive Design Association, please visit their website at: www.adaptivedesign.org.