In the United States, 18.7 percent of the civilian population between the ages of 18-64 lives with some kind of disability. Of that group, 1.9 percent of them live with a self-care disability, whether physical, mental, or emotional, that affects their ability to do basic tasks like bathe, dress themselves, or get around inside their home. Several conditions including autism, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's, and dyspraxia can make it difficult to nearly impossible to perform simple tasks, everything from holding items, to turning knobs, signing a signature, and cutting food.
I have my own fine motor control issues because of cerebral palsy. While I can generally hold on to items, write decently well, and turn the knobs on my stove, sometimes muscle spasms mean I spill my drink and drop stuff. With all the technology and tools out there, I decided to look for affordable assistive devices that could help me -- and others like me.
Steady Write Pen
The Steady Write Pen is a special pen with a triangular base, for easy use with either hand. The pen slides into the base so the user has something larger to hold onto. This is particularly useful for people who shake, or for those unable to hold a traditional pen or pencil due to arthritis. You can find it online at a variety of merchants, for around $10.
EazyHold produces a number of silicone cuffs, that are universally designed to attach to toothbrushes, pens, cups, spoons and forks, and more. They're available in different sizes and colors to make using them a little more fun. As an adult, it's hard for me to admit when I could use something like this - and somewhat embarrassing. But, at least I can choose them in my favorite color to accessorize my stuff. Prices start at $14.99, and vary based on size and quantity.
These devices are designed to help people turn the knobs on doors and appliances, so they can function without the assistance of others. These are particularly useful for people who can't reach the knobs because they are wheelchair bound, or who cannot turn them because of arthritis or other conditions. In addition to turners, there are also devices available for knobs that must be pushed. You can find them online for under $30.
Eye Drop Guides
Eye drops are a pain for a lot of people -- because the idea of anything coming too close to the eyes triggers the protective reflex to close the eyes. When you add motor control issues to the mix, getting eye drops in is a massive undertaking. I myself have wasted a lot of time (and drops) since I wear contacts. Sticking my finger in my eye to put my contacts in or take them out? No problem. Getting rewetting drops in there? I hope I don't have anywhere to be because it can take up to half an hour.
Eye drop guides attach to the bottle and cover the eye, so all you have to do is put it over your eye and squeeze the bottle to get the drops in. You can find them at pharmacies and other mass retailers for under $10.
Signature Name Stamps
For anyone unable to consistently sign their name, with or without a steady write pen type device, there's always the option of a signature stamp, available at VistaPrint for $18. Simply scan the signature and send to the company to receive a self-inking signature stamp. Carry it with you wherever you go, so you can sign checks, credit card receipts, and other documents.
Cutting my food is always a risky endeavor, one that I take slowly because I'm so afraid I'll cut myself. I'm married to a chef, so we have quality sharp knives in the home, but I don't hold the knife correctly. It's not because I don't know how -- trust me, he's tried to show me more times than I can count -- it's that I physically can't do it. My husband's always willing to cut my food when I need it, but he's not always here -- especially because he works the dinner shift. So -- the adaptive knife is definitely on my list.
Adaptive knives are available from a number of manufacturers across the Internet, and are designed specifically for people like me who lack the coordination to use a standard knife safely. There's an adaptive knife for any culinary job, from a standard meat cutter knife to an easy grip bread knife.
Thanks to technology, the sky is the limit when it comes to assistive devices available to assist the disabled. There's even an app that allows the disabled to get assistance on-the-go in real-time. From fine motor control to blindness, deafness, and even epilepsy, there's something to assist nearly any disabled person with any task.