Pizzability will now take that a step further by simplifying the restaurant experience as well. The straightforward menu will ask for size and toppings which will be circled and handed to the employee who will then roll the dough, craft the pizza, place in the oven, cut, and serve. On top of providing employment opportunities for individuals with DD, Pizzability will be a sensory friendly area. Swings, fidget seats, and sensory equipment will be geared towards nurturing a customer’s sensory needs, so they too can enjoy a unique dining experience. The students are involved in projects where our growing occupational therapy knowledge is being utilized. One of the projects has been to create a sensory wall and to select sensory modulation products for customers. A visual menu has been created for the meal-related items such as the Happy Mat and weighted utensils for both kids and adults. This menu will also educate customers on the benefits of each product. A sensory modulation room for employees is being designed utilizing a client-centered approach. This space will be calming, quiet, and equipped with sensory items that best help modulate each employee’s overstimulated sensory system from the busy restaurant. Sensory profiles will be used by students to identify the most effective sensory products and individualized items will be stored for each employee. The biggest highlight has been employee training. Students are working with employees one on one practicing each step, watching for safety, and best of all getting to know the employees and tasting the final product. We have been working with Tiffany for about a month and will continue to help with new projects until her opening day.

If you are interested in hearing more about the Pima students’ volunteer experience with Pizzability, stop by the Pima Medical Institute Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) table at OTAC’s conference.


Pictured: Pima OTA students and employees at Pizzability

Andrea Susi, Pima Medical Institute Denver Student Representative