Monday, October 5, 2015

An Attachment to Velcro!




I’ve always been enamoured with Velcro. I continue to love the many creative things it allowed you to do in both the therapeutic and the educational arena. Velcro was invented by George de Mestral in 1948. When Mr. de Mestral died on Thursday, February 8th 1990, the staff at United Cerebral Palsy in Birmingham brought in a black arm band for me to wear. They knew, I of all people, would be mourning the loss of this great inventor. Yes, I have an attachment to Velcro®

In a previous post I talked about applying sticky back (adhesive) male/hook velcro® to the Dual=Representation symbols that you are creating to support your Animated Step-by-Step™ activities.  Illustrated are some of the Dual=Representation Symbols (SymbolStix depicted) that would be used to support the Animated Step-by-Step™,  Mary Wore Her Red Dress



Let’s discuss some time-saving strategies for Velcro® application. In numerous schools and agencies I have noticed materials cluttered with both male (hook) and female (loop) Velcro®. Materials have both kinds of velcro® because they must be partnered with several different surfaces that sometimes have male, and sometimes have female Velcro®. This velcro® 'hodge podge' is due to the lack of a master plan within the agency/school … quite simply, a failure to adhere to ‘The Velcro® Rules'

The Velcro Rules 
  • if an item is attaching, it needs male Velcro® (my colleague Pat Snyder uses the mnemonic, ‘hard on the card’)
  • if an item is receiving, it needs female Velcro® 
If you adhere to these two simple rules, everything ‘plays nice’ together. Your Dual=Representation symbols will now work interchangeably with …
  • the bulletin board covered with Tempo Display Loop fabric (Lockfast.com);
  • the Visual Communication Apron (constructed from Tempo Display Loop Fabric) available for $30.00 from National Autism Resources (picture modified from that on the National Autism Resources website)
    KPS-14WH1126-50



  • the indoor outdoor carpet sample that you have mounted on foam core to create a Velcro-receptive surface to help you organize your Dual=Representation symbols for efficient retrieval during a lesson;
         

  • the female Velcro® attached to the inside of the storage clipboard you  modified to provide a 'hands on' followup activity for the  Mary Wore Her Red Dress Animated Step-by-Step™.
Warning: do NOT use a flannel board as a receiving surface for your Dual=Representation Symbols. Although it initially works, the flannel sheds fibers that will eventually clog your male Velcro® (Why are my cards not sticking any more?). 


What is the quickest way to apply male Velcro® to your Dual=Representation Symbols. 

For several years I routinely precut a roll of sticky back Velcro® (figure 1) and kept the pre-cut pieces handy in a zip-lock bag. I mistakenly thought I was helping my teachers and SLPs save time by precutting the Velcro® in the size needed for application to the Dual=Representation symbols. Precutting eliminated the need to cut … but the finicky task of peeling the plastic backing off of those tiny ½” x ¼”  pieces eradicated any upfront gains.

Jeannette Lenney, my material prep assistant at the time, came up with a faster solution (to which I replied, “Duh”). Jeannette discovered that she could rip a long strip of sticky back Velcro® lengthwise (figure b & c), peel off the thin protective backing, then quickly cut (figure d) and apply the sticky back Velcro® to our Dual=Representation cards. I can’t vouch for all brands of Velcro®,  but the Velcro® available from Lockfast does have this ‘ripping along its length’ capability (http://lockfast.com). 
This ‘ripping strategy’ is especially great when an agency is creating a lot of Dual=Representation Symbols ... it minimizes the amount of cutting required. Furthermore, as you will soon discover, the less you have to cut sticky back Velcro®, the less often you will have to clean those gummed up scissors blades.  So try the ripping strategy with your brand of Velcro®. Fingers crossed that it will work for your brand. You can also order white sticky back Velcro® by the reel in a 1/4" width (KPS-14WH1126-50  from Lockfast.com).

As a final note, it is also a great idea to have a designated ‘Velcro® scissors’ .  If you don't  before you know it,  it will be hard to find  'a decent' scissors to cut paper when you need it! But eventually those 'velcro scissors will need to be cleaned so here is my second 'duh' moment
As an aside: finger nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol and, a product called Goo Gone (http://googone.com/Home.aspx) can all be used to remove that sticky gum that accumulates on your scissors.
 

12-11-18  ... I've just witnessed Laura Villa of the Kennedy Children's Center in New York City using an even better, environmentally friendly solution.  Laura uses the sticky back side of a small segment of velcro to 'tack off' (repetitive small dabs) the adhesive from her scissors. Go figure that something this simple would work so beautifully!  Thank you Laura for this great tip!

… ’til the next post (new posts every Monday; become a follower)

© 2015 Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.
Augmentative Communication Consultant
Speech-Language Pathologist
Special Educator