Contributed by: Mrs. Jennifer Freeman – Orientation and Mobility Specialist
About four years ago I was pregnant and got five new functionally blind incoming preschoolers around the same time plus I had to manage a large caseload. I was having a rough time with my pregnancy and the more I bent over to help students, the more my contractions would come. All of the new preschoolers I got were at different levels. Many had been carried places and were not even walking. I was bending over a lot to get the little ones up and moving with my big belly in the way. The added stress of picking up dropped canes was not helping. Since that point, I wanted to create a glove (like a weight lifters glove) for my students that I could attach the long cane to by using some form of a Velcro strap. After much consideration of how I could even get a child with tactual defensiveness to put on a glove, I realized my idea had to be simplified. I reached out to a local woman’s group to see if they wanted to dedicate their time with inventing or making something to help me with this idea. I mentioned it to my nanny one morning and she told me about mitten clips! She is from the Midwest and said kids used them all the time in the snow. I immediately jumped on Amazon and ordered some to try out. Two days later they arrived and I tried them with several students. I saw an immediate benefit! Not only has my back been saved but also my students are naturally grabbing their canes as they move without even being prompted to do so. I just wish I had the idea back when I was pregnant. I’d like to hear if anyone else finds this technique helpful?
Goal: To facilitate the CONTINUED use of a hand grip on a long cane during traveling experiences.
Appropriate for ages: This idea is appropriate for any age during introductions of the long cane. However, it will most likely benefit younger multiply disabled individuals.
Materials Needed: You will need two mitten clips with a rope, string or piece of material. You can buy the mitten clips on Amazon already made or you can buy a set of mitten clips on Amazon and make them yourselves.
* THE BEST PART IS THAT THE MITTEN CLIPS
DON’T CAUSE ANY DAMAGE TO CLOTHING*
- Orient person to mitten clip and explain it’s purpose despite cognitive level
- Connect one end of mitten clip to the strap of the long cane. Be sure to attach the strap snug in the teeth portion of the clip.
- Tell person that you are connecting the opposite end of the mitten clip to their clothing
- If the person uses the cane in both hands, I suggest that you put the mitten clip in the center of the clothing near the chest with the teeth portion of the clip attached to their shirt or sweatshirt. Otherwise the clip will detach quickly if it is pulled.
- You want the length of the mitten clip material/string to align with the level where the hand is while the person is holding onto the cane. That way if a person drops the cane, they will naturally feel the cane right next to their hand and continue using it.
- If it is a smaller child, put the clip on one sleeve depending on which hand is being used.
- The idea is that if a person drops the cane, the cane will still remain in front of them at a diagonal and as they move, they will feel the cane so with the verbal prompt of “hold or grab cane’ the person will continue to do so.
- PAY CLOSE ATTENTION because if the person drops the cane and does not have good balance, they can trip over the cane. However, what I have seen is that the cane will dangle across the persons shins and continue to be pushed without causing any harm.
- This idea is not only a major back saver but has been really helpful for teachers who are navigating entire classes with the expectation that my student is walking independently. Teacher’s don’t have to keep running over to pick up a cane and/or worried that it will be thrown far.
Where to get mitten clips:
- All types of mitten clips from Amazon
- I also bought these pacifier/mitten clips to see if I could make my own mitten clips cheaper. I additionally discovered that the pacifier clips in this link are great for tying string to and using them to clip to glasses straps to improve posture. When the person drops their head, the glasses get tugged by the shirt and give a “natural physical cue” to pick up the head. You can use these mitten/pacifier clips for all types of activities!! Just be creative.
- The mitten clip set I purchased that you’ll see in the photo.