An Enduring Commitment to Facilitating Accessible Play and Joy
Melanie Thompson, an OTR from Arizona, understands the joy that play brings and the benefits it has for motor and cognitive development. She provides children with the tools they need to learn, grow, and play regardless of medical complexity, physical abilities, or socioeconomic status. Melanie’s expert knowledge of assistive technology (AT) helps her problem-solve the access needs of her clients. She works closely with SLPs, PTs, ATPs, wheelchair specialists, mobility specialists, and many others to ensure that her clients and their families are supported, understand their resources, and are empowered through education, experiences, and teamwork. Melanie provides accessible and inclusive client-centered care so that her clients can actively participate in play.
Most of Melanie’s clients cannot access toys available in stores, so she finds ways for them to participate in any activity they choose. With her collaborative spirit and knowledge of AT, she reimagines activities and adapts toys and other tools to match each client’s specific needs. Melanie believes that any activity a child wants to do, they can.
Melanie also helps her clients and their families access power mobility devices. In Arizona, children and adults must pass a skills assessment for insurance to cover the cost of a power wheelchair. The inequity of this process creates barriers for children, especially those with complex physical needs. In response, Melanie created a training program where children learn the necessary skills using trial power wheelchairs and alternative access devices. Through this program, children have access to services, technology, and independence they have never had before. Melanie took accessibility one step further when she realized that she could teach children with limited head control to operate power wheelchairs using two switches instead of the traditional three. Now, more children have access to power mobility.