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Smith School Student Quilting Senior Project

smith school student using pillow switch to operate sewing machine Smith School senior Alexis Runyan is helping complete a quilt as a senior project.

Alexis is a student in the STEPS program who is diagnosed with Rett syndrome, a progressive neurological disorder. Working with her occupational therapist, Susan Arnsten-Russell, Alexis helped select the patterns, fabrics and uses an assistive device called a pillow switch to activate the sewing machine. Quilting has been a wonderful opportunity for her to actively engage with a creative project.

“An occupational therapist’s goal is to provide individuals with the opportunity to engage in motivating occupations that they find meaningful and that allow them to express who they are through the work of their hands,” Susan Arnsten-Russell said. “Engaging in sewing projects has been particularly motivating for this student and has provided her with a sense of pride in what she could do despite her limitations in addition to increasing her participation.”

They started the project together during the 2017-2018 school year and are on track to be completing the quilt in time for graduation this school year.