Blind Individual with Developmental Disabilities Learns to use a Hole Puncher


I had no idea how smart Micky was! He is blind, developmentally disabled, on the autistic spectrum and only uses a handful of words. When he first entered the day program 4 years ago, Micky refused to touch any objects. His tactile defensiveness is so severe that he receives nutrition via a G-tube because he does not tolerate food inside his mouth. I designed activities that were simple to perform and tolerable to touch. Objects are plastic, wooden or rubber because he dislikes soft textures. I initially designed activities to require force so that Micky would
1) Strengthen his hands
2) Receive deep pressure (proprioceptive) sensory stimulation

Micky typically has his fingers in his ears because he is also sensitive to auditory stimuli. Notice how flat his hands are. He has had little experience squeezing objects and strengthening his intrinsic hand muscles! Over time Micky became very good at pushing golf balls through a hole in a bucket and a few other similar tasks. He now tolerates touching materials made of fabric.

Now the exciting part! I had a different client in mind when I brought over the hole puncher, but decided to give Micky a turn. He learned how to perform this complex multi-step task given hand over hand assistance and auditory cues. He followed all of my verbal directions so well that after 30 minutes of training, he was able to perform the following steps with only verbal cues:
1) Find a round shape and put it into the puncher
2) Reposition the shape as needed so that it is pushed into place
3) Left fingers stabilize the shape while right hand pushes the handle down
4) Right hand brings handle back up
5) Feel the plastic piece to make sure it has a hole in it
6) Repeat if the hole is missing
7) Place the shape into the container

Work is cancelled over the next few weeks due to the corona virus but I bet my friend, Micky will be independently performing this task after a few more trainings. He LOVES the intellectual challenge of sequencing complex steps and that this task is FUNCTIONAL. We will be using the plastic money shapes for stringing and on hook boards.

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