A steamroller may not sound like something children should be playing with, but for children with autism, this therapeutic device can assist in developing their motor skills and provide a calming effect. In an effort to make the device more cost effective and transportable, several UTC engineering students designed and built one for children at Ingleside Elementary School in Athens, Tennessee.

Constructed from wood, metal gears, foam, and bungee cords, the steamroller created by freshmen engineering students Marc Simons, Maria Szarka, and Adam Prater, cost very little to make.

“Some steamrollers are so expensive, so we wanted to use materials that can be found in your everyday hardware store,” Simons said. “That way if something breaks, it can be easily replaced.”

The steamroller features several foam “rollers” for a child to crawl through. The rollers provide a pressure, which can be calming to a child with autism.

“Our design can be easily modified to the specific child as he or she grows,” Simons said. “A parent can increase or decrease the tension with the bungee cords to fit the child’s individual needs.”

The steamroller also folds up for easy storage and transport.

“It was important to us to create something that the child could take home. The more use they can get out of our steamroller, the better,” Simons said.

 

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