Sunday, September 26, 2010

PECS - Free symbols

PECS - Picture Exchange Communication System - can make it so much easier for you and your child to communicate. If your children can't express themselves in words their frustration can cause an emotional blowout. Imagine how much easier it is for them to pick up a card and show you what they want you to know?

The hardest part of putting together your PECS cards is finding the images especially without blowing the budget. Many sites need you to own Boardmaker which is a software program that helps you manage the image production. An Australian version, with specifically Australian images, is also available.

If you want to make your own images there are some sites that can help. They offer free images for you to use. Here are links to a few of them. - This site has heaps of links to useful sites for PECS but if you scroll down to the bottom you will find links directly to images that you can use. - Free printables. - A collection of downloadable images. - a downloadable pdf file of sample images that you can print out and use - This site has images from Mayer Johnson and Silverlining Multimedia, specialist in PECS. While these are not copyright free you can print and trial them with your child before committing to purcahse any software. You need to know that PECS will work for you first, don't you? - Very handy for printing out brand images. Think of Coke and McDonalds. This site has lots of logos that might be useful. - ready to use printables for your normal daily activities. - a few images that might be handy. - great images that are easy to understand.

I know that we have bombarded you with a lot of information in these last two posts but I think they will be very useful for those of you who need PECS information and advice. I hope we have made your life a little easier.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

PECS - Sources of information

PECS, or Picture Exchange Communication System is a therapy based program used by professionals dealing in autism spectrum disorders, such as occupational therapists, speech pathologists, social workers and even parents and teachers. It is designed to provide a way for people with autism to communicate without speaking, or the need for using words.

Through use of a series of cards consisting pictures or symbols representing items or objects, tasks or actions, enabling children to communicate how they are feeling or what they need, as well as aiding with establishing routines and creating social stories to help children cope with social situations.

It is recommended parents (and others) complete a training course in PECS and to work with children on a daily basis with the system to ensure maximum benefit.

Further information regarding the system, how it works and the basis behind it, as well as where you can access training courses in Australia can be found at: - also provides a list of all therapies and services for ASD in Australia, as well as additional, useful resources) - provides links and access to the PECS manual and PECS related products and tools and other useful resources - lists a variety of interventions and therapies available to children with ASD, including the use of combined therapies - also provides an online community, resources and events, and support - offers information, events, resources, access to tools and materials as well as an online community and support - Pyramid Education Consultants of Australia who conduct training courses and workshops for those interested in the PECS system

Next week we will have a look at some of the PECS cards available, especially those that are free.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What Makes a Good Toy?

Toys are a fantastic way to encourage learning in kids, stimulate senses and develop cognitive, motor and social skills.

This is particularly important for children with autism, who often require additional assistance in stimulation of the senses, motor control and recognition and understanding of social rules and playing with other children.

As with all toys for children, cheaper toys are usually not the preferred option, as they are easier to break or fall apart, and are often unsafe. Spending a bit extra for a sturdy, durable toy is well worth the money, in terms of safety as well as longevity of the toy.

They generally, depending on the type of toy, offer more options for interactivity, sensory stimulation and thought processes. Even simple aspects, such as the type of noise made or the ability to press buttons or flick switches can have profound impacts on its playability and enjoyment by the child.

For children with autism, toys that have a greater focus on sensory stimulation are most beneficial. Those that also offer a “cause and effect” type reaction, such as squeezing a ball and a light comes on, engages both touch and visual senses.

Toys or games a larger number of muscles to be involved; like the whole hand being required to squeeze, as opposed to one finger pressing a button, offer a greater opportunity for larger areas to be stimulated. Team them up with toys that engage other sensors, visual or auditory is good (leave taste for eating food!) and the impact on development of many areas is enhanced.

Toys that require sorting, matching or building, such as puzzles, LEGO or shape sorting/colour matching are great for improving cognitive skills, creativity and imagination. Of course, they also play a role in development of fine motor skills.

You also can’t go past play doh for creativity, development of imagination, and the touch and feel of has a profound impact on sensory stimulation. You can also add food flavours, such as strawberry or orange essence, and engage smell as well.

To help your children develop go and buy them a good toy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why play is important

Play plays an important role in the physical, mental and social development of children; facilitating muscle development and body control, development of the senses, brain stimulation and thought and logic processes, and understanding social norms and accepted behaviours.

Physical development is enhanced through active play like running, jumping, climbing or dancing, and through quieter activities like drawing, doing puzzles, building LEGO or tea parties.

Gross Motor Development involves the larger muscles and muscle groups, like arms and legs, and is responsible for the ability to perform activities like walking and climbing, and also balance, special awareness and control of body parts.

Unstructured play, or imaginative/pretend play, on playground equipment or the furniture at home is a fantastic way to enhance gross motor skills, even if it does appear chaotic!

Fine Motor Skills are developed through use of smaller muscles, and more refined activities, like drawing, threading beads or constructing LEGO. Play that requires the use of smaller body parts, like fingers and encourages the use of various grips or movements helps strengthen the muscles and aids development of control. This is essential for learning writing, for example, later on at school.

Play doh and tea parties, train track construction and doing Barbie’s hair all require fine motor control.

They also aid in mental development, where thought processes and logic may need to be applied. Children learn how shapes fit, or which way an object needs to face in order for the play to work.

Cause and effect is also achieved as they begin to understand that pushing a particular button, for example, will result in a specific noise. Learning to comprehend their actions have consequences is extremely beneficial for mental development.

Play with others offers opportunities to learn social norms, sharing and appreciation for others. Comprehension of rules – both for the game and social rules – are addressed and children learn to work together towards a similar outcome and enjoyment.

Although play can be noisy or fraught with potential danger, it is essential for the growth and development of children physically, mentally and socially.
Welcome to The Toy Bug Blog!

Here you will find all sorts of useful information about The Toy Bug including sneak peeks at new products coming into the store, profiles on toys and information and stories about our Autism Journey.

We hope you'll check back often to see whats new :-)
Cheers Jo xo