Reynolds Manufacturing, Inc. recently donated a custom-built couch to The Arc of Schuyler for use at one of its residential alternatives serving people with developmental disabilities. Traditional couches are not built for hard landings or rocking, but that’s exactly what The Arc of Schuyler needed to meet the needs of one resident diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
The Arc’s Assistant Executive Director, Erin Pond, provides oversight for The Arc’s residential program, which includes eight homes serving more than 50 people in Schuyler County.
“Part of what we do at The Arc is create home environments that are comfortable and suit the specific needs of each person who lives there,” Pond said. “Adaptive equipment is critical for a lot of people to dress, bathe, eat, and perform some of their daily activities.”
There’s lots of specialized equipment on the market, but in this case The Arc needed help creating something it couldn’t find for sale.
“People on the spectrum often seek one type of sensory input or engage in repetitive behaviors, like rocking, to help themselves manage their emotions or to cope with overwhelming sensations, such as too much light or noise.” Pond said. “We support a young man who, because of his sensory needs, intentionally lands hard into the couch and will frequently rock while sitting.”
Replacing the couch as often as was needed was impractical, so Pond sought assistance from a friend at Reynolds Manufacturing for a customized, steel-framed couch that could withstand more than the typical wear and tear. The Big Flats-based manufacturing facility, which offers solutions for a variety of machining and fabrication needs, was eager to help. The company’s CFO, Danielle Ballard, had an 18-year career in the direct support professional and residential management field before transitioning from The Arc of Schuyler to a manufacturing career three years ago.
“This was an amazing chance for me to bring my worlds together,” Ballard said. “I immediately brought the idea to our owner, David Reynolds. He let our team run with this project and supported us one-hundred percent, ensuring we had everything we needed to make this happen.”
The engineers of the adaptive couch, Jon Rounds and Joe Drake, were also excited about the unique opportunity. Rounds, who has been with Reynolds for seven years, previously worked on a walker, tailored specifically to the customer’s physical needs and even color preference – purple with glitter.
The team put in hours of work, visiting the house to understand the specific needs, designing, and building not just functional adaptive equipment, but comfortable, attractive furniture that people can use for the long term.
“This project certainly has us thinking about other possibilities,” Ballard said. “People have all different kinds of needs and we’re thrilled to help.”