Adapted Art Supplies for Kids With Severe Disabilities

By Carrie Perles ; Updated September 15, 2017

Some activities that we take for granted, such as moving a paintbrush, positioning a canvas or even just seeing artwork, can be difficult for children with severe disabilities. If you're working on art project with such kids, it is important to have adaptive art supplies that they can use well. Each child will need a different set of supplies, depending on the type and extent of her disabilities.

Easels and Drawing Boards

Many children with severe disabilities are in wheelchairs, so be sure to get an adaptive drawing surface with the proper height, enabling the child to work most comfortably. In addition, children who have limited arm mobility will benefit from an adaptive drawing surface so that they do not need to reach too far or change position too much. In fact, motorized easels are especially helpful for these children, as they can easily change the angle or height of the surface with minimal movement.

Implements and Accessories

Adaptive drawing implements and other accessories can also be helpful. For example, some children who do not have sufficient control of their arms and hands can still draw or paint using their mouths. To make this possible, they will need a mouth-stick, which will allow them to comfortably hold a paintbrush or similar implement. For children who have some hand control but suffer from tremors or similar conditions, consider offering a supportive bridge to steady the arm and hand, or a reacher to extend the reach. Children who simply have difficult gripping can use a reacher, but they may find it more convenient to take advantage of easy-grip implements, such as paintbrushes, that they can control more easily. In addition, these children may find pots of paint, rather than tubes of paint, easier to deal with.

Visually Adaptive Accessories

For children who have vision difficulties, consider using a magnification device or special lighting. Magnification devices can be hand-held, but they can also stand on their own so that both hands are free for drawing or painting. Special lighting, such as Verilux lamps, can help people with low vision to see the art they are creating much more clearly, since it stops filament vibration.

About the Author

Keren (Carrie) Perles is a freelance writer with professional experience in publishing since 2004. Perles has written, edited and developed curriculum for educational publishers. She writes online articles about various topics, mostly about education or parenting, and has been a mother, teacher and tutor for various ages. Perles holds a Bachelor of Arts in English communications from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.