In the United States, in order to get a prescription for a manually controlled and customized wheelchair, a person would need to prove that their health limits their mobility and that they can operate the wheelchair competently. However, commercial wheelchairs are very expensive, usually costing more than $10000, which makes getting access to one for training impractical for most young disabled children. Hence, the goal of this senior project is to adapt a low-cost Fisher-Price ride-on toy called the Wild Thing to serve as a mobility assessment and training tool. While not replacing traditional wheelchairs, the device can help lower the cost of entry to power mobility, which provides young disabled children with a means of autonomous movement and sufficient body support. By lowering the entry cost, my project can help enhance the quality of life by enabling occupation, improving self-esteem and facilitating social interactions. Especially for young children, which are my targeted customers, studies have shown that power mobility can promote independence and prevent functional limitations and disabilities that they might encounter. In addition, the ability to move autonomously has a positive influence on their “self-awareness, emotional attachment, spatial orientation and visual/vestibular integration”  as well as “personality traits like motivation and initiation” .
This is an interdisciplinary project, in which I modified the control interface of the Wild Thing and Joseph Caruso from the Mechanical Engineering department constructed flexible seating customizations. The entire project is developed and designed to be tested and used at the Kevin G. Langan School at the Center for Disability Services, under the guidance of Mr. Jim Luther and Mrs. Gillian Whelan. The user interface options can be tailored to the capabilities of a specific young child with disabilities through a variety of different ability switches, which can be used to control the motors.
 J. Campos, D. Anderson, M. Barbu-Roth, E. Hubbard, M. Hertenstein and D. Witherington, "Travel Broadens The Mind," Infancy, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 149-219, 2000.
 J. Furumasu, Pediatric Powered Mobility: Developmental Perspectives, Technical Issues, Clinical Approaches, RESNA/Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America, 1997.