Summer Activities For Kids with Motor Challenges Using a PowerLink

All kids deserve some summer fun! For those children who have trouble using their hands and arms, the PowerLink device can help them to participate in lots of fun activities using just a single switch. They can make lemonade, have fun with a fan, and even shoot a friend or sibling with water!

The PowerLink

powerlinkThe PowerLink is an environmental modification device made by Ablenet. It can turn an item with a standard electrical plug into a switch-operated device. You simply hook up a switch of your choice–including the option of some wireless switches–and then plug in one or two standard electric devices or appliances. There are six modes of operation:

  • Direct – the item turns on when the switch is depressed
  • Latch – one press turns the item on; another turns it off
  • Count – same as direct, but it counts how many times a child presses the switch
  • Timer (seconds) – turns it on for a set amount of seconds
  • Timer (minutes) – turns it on for a set amount of minutes
  • Two-switch – same as direct, but you need to press two switches at the same time.

The newest version of the PowerLink, the PowerLink4 is also great for cooperative play, either using the two-switch mode, or running two devices with two switches simultaneously.

The PowerLink is a little pricy, at about $240. However, many insurers, early intervention programs, schools, and Medicaid programs will pay for the devices as a part of assistive technology.

The following are several fun activities you can do with the PowerLink.

Making Lemonade

What says summer better than lemonade? Whether your kid can drink lemonade or not doesn’t matter–it is the process that is fun!

To make lemonade using a PowerLink, you will need a citrus juicer and a blender. First, plug the citrus juicer into the PowerLink. Then take 5-6 large lemons cut in half. A parent, sibling, or friend can hold the lemons on the juicer while your child powers it, using a single switch and the PowerLink. You should end up with about a cup of lemon juice. By the way, if you don’t have a citrus juicer, you can substitute bottled lemon juice.

Unplug the citrus juicer and plug any type of blender into the PowerLink. Add ½ cup sugar, 1 cup ice, your 1 cup of lemon juice, and 4 cups water. Let your child press the switch to blend it all together!

Your child can then drink the lemonade, put it down a feeding tube, use it for tastes, or even sell it for donations to charity!

Fun with Fans

We all need to stay cool in the summertime, and a fan hooked up to the PowerLink is a great and fun way to cool off. Fans can also be combined with other kid-friendly devices, like bubbles, wind chimes, and pinwheels.

INGMRF-00028665-001Simply hook a small or medium fan with a standard electric plug into the PowerLink. Aim the fan toward your child (or a friend!) and let him or her control the breeze.

Fans and bubbles go really well together! Have a sibling or friend dip a large bubble wand into bubble soap and hold it in front of the fan. Hit the switch and instant bubbles!

Does you child like the sound of tinkling wind chimes? Position the fan in front of a set of one or more wind chimes and let your child use a switch to control the musical breeze.

Finally, let your child experience the fun and visual entertainment of a pinwheel. Have a parent or sibling hold the pinwheel in front of the fan while your child uses the switch to make it go.

Water Play

Summer isn’t complete without some water play and fun, but this can be challenging for kids with motor impairments. With the help of an unexpected device–an oral irrigator–your child can be shooting water cannons and watering plants!

Oral irrigators are those devices used to floss your teeth with water. You can get the Waterpik Water Flosser for Kids for about $35, or use any other model that includes an electrical plug. Plug the irrigator into the PowerLink and get ready to have fun!

Note that it is of course important to make sure the water is aimed away from the PowerLink device. Most irrigators have reasonably long tubing and power cords that should make this easy.

A parent or friend can hold the squirting part of the irrigator, or you can attach it using Velcro to your child’s wheelchair or hand. Next, hit the switch for an instant water cannon.

If your child is more the gardening type, you can use the irrigator to water flowers or plants as well.

Have a Great Summer!

Using a PowerLink can be great for summer activities. Kids may also enjoy using it to watch TV, turn lights on and off, or even use a food processor to make up a batch of cookie dough. The possibilities are endless!

Author: Susan Agrawal • Date: 6/10/2015

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