The Manila Bulletin (mb.com) posted a very interesting article about ergonomics and children with autism by Dang U. Koe. Ergonomics plays a part in making all of our lives easier, whether it be the angle of the steering wheel in your car, how your workstation is set up, or the simple pen you use when you write. And, of course, when a child has special challenges, such as autism, ergonomics can make all the difference in how successful the child is in dealing with life.
In his article, Koe interviewed Thea Sheila Ocheda-Alonto , a graduate of the University of the Philippines Manila, who has a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy and a master’s degree in Occupational Health. Besides being a practicing pediatric occupational therapist, Ocheda-Alonto is an ergonomics consultant.
Ocheda-Alonto explained that back in June 2001, an initiative was formed by the International Ergonomics Association in creating a technical committee on Ergonomics for Children and Educational Environments (ECEE). The purpose was to apply ergonomics in all educational environments, and promote public awareness of ergonomics related to children of all abilities in all aspects of their lives.
“Computers have become an essential part of learning in the mainstream school systems, but the usual concern of students with autism in computer use is the mismatch between tools or equipment,” points out Ocheda-Alonto. “There is an increase in the incidence of “Nintendo Thumb” or a repetitive stress injury (RSI) even with autistic children. Overuse of computers can also lead to an increase incidence of muscle pain, eye strain, wrist related repetitive strain injuries. “Ocheda-Alonto offers these ergonomic guidelines for students with autism who use computer:
- Encourage neutral posture at all times
- Place monitor correctly on the desk
- Keyboard and mouse which are fit for the child’s hands
- Make sure furniture and equipment are adjustable
- Use ergonomic chair appropriate to the size of the child with stable desk or work surfaces
- Have the student take frequent breaks
“After all, the user design approach – that is, designing for end-users – is the foundation of ergonomics for children with special needs,” says Ocheda-Alonto. And that is exactly why my UGLee Pen is so perfect for children with autism, and anyone else who has difficulty holding a pen properly. Since the contours on the sides of the UGLee Pen are scientifically designed to follow the contours of the hand, the UGLee Pen feels as though it is a part of the hand, allowing the user to write in comfort and ease.
(Photo credit – lwa-ky.org)