Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas With The Autistic Child

Christmas can be a hectic time for the average family but with an autistic child in the home, it can be even more difficult. As parents you will have to prepare a little differently.

Your home will be filled with colourful lights and decorations: the cooking smells will be different and many visitors are possible at this time of the year. Your child might not easily cope with some or all of these changes to routine.

The best way to prepare is to begin well in advance for that all important day. Put up a big board and write on it what will be happening and when. As a family, check the list each day and work out what comes next. This will help prepare your child for change and at the same time, keep the rest of the family on track at this busy time.

Put Christmas baubles in jars around the home so that the child can see them at every turn and get used to them. Do the same with the lights too so that they get used to the colours. A little at a time is a good rule to go by.

On Christmas Day at meal time, have your child’s usual favourites on standby in case they refuse the new dishes. It is enough for them to get through the new routine without having to try different foods as well. Also, stagger the gift opening so that they are not overwhelmed with too many toys, etc. If they stop playing with one then move it out of sight until they finish with the next one.

The general idea is not to overwhelm the child if possible. Get some more tips from Stuart Duncan so that you can be fully prepared for a great holiday and minimise the chances of your child becoming upset.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Autism Affected Children Being Bullied

Children who are on the autism spectrum are sometimes the subject of bullying by their peers. Often, children with this syndrome display exceptional levels of intelligence and it is this that other kids seem to find terribly disturbing. Of course, when kids see something out of the norm they will pick on it without exception. However, the victim will have no way out and usually doesn’t understand why it is happening.

Schools are also left with a worrying problem because parents of autistic children will complain, and rightly so. Most schools have introduced support systems for children on the autism spectrum and this has helped to minimise the amount and impact of classroom bullying. It hasn’t wiped it out completely, but that probably amounts to changing human nature.

The question is what impact does this bullying have on a child on the autism spectrum?

For parents of these kids who are being victimised, a US site called ianproject.org has set up an online survey where parents across the world can write down what has been happening. Also on this site, parents can interact with other parents and share tips and advice on their next best move.

The survey is open for parents with children between six and fifteen and is meant to give a clearer picture of what is going on in schools today. It is only open for a couple of months so those who want to participate should do so at the earliest opportunity.

"That will provide some hard evidence for parents who are going into a principal's office and trying to say this is not just this little thing that happened here with my kid. This is something that is a pattern that is happening everywhere. These children are especially vulnerable."

Every voice counts so if you have something to say, go and say it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mini Time Tracker – Staying On Track

You know those times you’ve said to the kids “I’ll be there in five minutes!”? Or done the “You have half an hour to finish that off,” then completely lost track of time?

Or you promise them if they spend twenty minutes doing their homework, they can then have 20 minutes on the DS, and they ask every 2 minutes “Have I done 20 minutes yet?”

It drives you crazy and, really, there are things that need to be done that prevent you from sitting in front of the clock, watching it count down and calling out “Ten minutes to go! Five minutes left!”, et cetera.

Kitchen timers are brilliant for this exercise, except they don’t give countdowns or warn when the timer is about to go off, startling everyone and causing a sudden end to the activity. The kids might appreciate it for an end to homework, but not when they’re doing something they enjoy. They do like a warning.

The Mini Time Tracker makes up for these deficiencies, as it not only counts down (up to two hours) but also has the capacity to set “warning” countdowns as well, which can be set to give as much warning as you like - five minutes, ten…

Aside from the standard kitchen time alarm going off when time is up, the Mini Time Tracker has a visual component, which can be viewed from anywhere in the room. The top of the tracker changes from green to yellow (warning time countdown), to red when the time is up.

The alarm volume is adjustable to cater for room size, number of children and the noise level of their activity. You might even like to switch it off and have the visual, green-yellow-red countdown only.

Your time is then freed up to worry about the things you need to and spare you the unnessary task of clock watching.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Making Christmas Decorations

Christmas is fast approaching. A big part of Christmas is transforming the house, inside and out with Christmas decorations such as lights, tinsel, shiny baubles and smiling Santa faces galore! However, for kids on the spectrum, Christmas decorations can mean a sensory overload and might cause confusion and stress with all the changes to regular look of the house and their “space.”

Here are some tips on how to cope with the sensory overload of having a houseful of Christmas decorations:

• Get your child involved. They might like to choose a special decoration at the shops to hang on the tree. You could encourage them to focus on a particular job such as decorating the bottom half of the tree or something else at their height level.

• Make Christmas Decorations. Helping make decorations might help ease the sensory overload. We have some great items in our Arts and Craft section to help this. This Photo CD Ornament is a great idea as you can use photos of familiar faces and even the family pet which will certainly make it easier to deal with strange and new decorations. This Handprint Santa is also a lovely way to get your children involved.

• There are some certain decorations such as blinking lights, lots of glittery decorations such as tinsel and random noisy ornaments like talking Santas that can wear down senses over time. before your child reacts, try and plan carefully exactly the type of decorations you will include.

Getting your child involved in making Christmas decorations and decorating the house is an excellent way to help them cope with the changes that come this time of year. They will love to feel responsible for making the house look “pretty” and Christmassy and this will also give them a sense of pride when they can see their gorgeous homemade decorations hanging on display.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Under the Glass

Kids are, by their very nature, curious little beings. They’re also fascinated by little beings in nature.

Bugs, worms, insects and all manner of creepy crawlies grab their attention and just beg for closer inspection.

Letting your little ones loose in the garden is a start. Add an Insect Magnifying Glass and they’ll be delighted with the detail of the insect world they can now explore.

It is a natural way for your children to embark on an educational – and FUN – foray into the insect world that allows them to examine creepy crawlies in their natural habitats.

If the insects keep hiding, as they tend to do when confronted with giant sized pre-schoolers!, you might like to have your kids explore them under the glass.

This great idea from A Little Learning shows how you can create a Magnifier Discovery Board to use with your Insect Magnifying Glass to closely, and safely inspect the insect world.

You’re not limited to insects and other creepy crawlies either. You and your children can explore all kinds of natural objects from your backyard and garden, or from anywhere, really.

Remember to release the crawlies back into their natural habitat when the examination has finished, and use your display board for any number of items and objects of fascination.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Autism Buddy - An Online Resource

Autism Buddy is a website rich in resources for parents, teachers and other carers of children with special educational needs.

The resources include an incredible range of printable worksheets, flashcards, reward charts, e-books and many more. Hundreds of these are available to download for free, while others require that you purchase a premium membership. This can be paid over various periods, starting at monthly and going up to two yearly. An organisational membership is also available, which would be ideal for schools or community groups.

Included in the Premium Membership is access to Flash Card Maker, giving you free reign to design cards best suited to your children's needs, as well as their Interactive Zone, where children can access a range of activities such as colouring pages and puzzles.

The free resources are extensive and their use would not be limited to children with special needs. For example, the Chore Chart would not be out of place in any home or classroom. Similarly, Animal Bingo can be played with just about anyone.

Some of the resources would also be helpful to anyone wanting to assist children with their emotional and social development, such as this set of Emotion Flash Cards. In addition to visual learning aids, the website also hosts a forum, a blog, information resources for carers and an opportunity to "ask the experts".

Autism Buddy is very easy to navigate, with charming, simple graphics, careful use of bold colours and an intuitive set of headings and categories.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

IEPs - What They Are And What You Should Know About Them

What is an IEP? IEP stands for Individual Education Plan, a document negotiated between educators and family members or caregivers to ensure a student’s individual learning and education needs, as a result of a disability, are met in the most appropriate and accessible manner. IEP’s are normally developed on a 6-12 month timeline depending on the state or educational system you are dealing with, but can be reviewed and amended at any time as circumstances change.

That’s the formal explanation, but what does this really mean?

People who have the best knowledge and best interests of the child meet to set 2-6 educational goals based on the child’s specific needs, skills, attributes and aspirations. Where appropriate, the most important member of the team, the child, should be present at any meeting.

A successful IEP has 5 basic steps: information gathering, consultation or meeting, design of the plan, implementation and finally evaluation.

A few general notes to remember:

• An IEP should only be part of your child's curriculum. There will be other class curriculum and content that will be general to the class and the school that will not be included.

• In the spirit of inclusion, the goals of the IEP will be incorporated in general class activities wherever possible and will not necessarily require individual tasks or programming.

• As with any kind of plan, goals for your child need to be realistic, meaningful and measurable.

• Working towards the goals of the IEP across school, home and community involvements will greatly increase the success and effectiveness of the plan and the educational goals for the child.

IEP’s are a working document that can be reviewed and reassessed as needs, goals and circumstances change. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request amendments at any stage. You are always your child’s best advocate.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What Are Your Insects Up To?

Fact: Little people are fascinated by little things.

Your child can learn so much from studying the comings and goings in the lives of the insects in your very own yard.

We have child-friendly insect magnifying glasses that are perfect for enhancing your child’s view of the little critters that make up such an important part of our ecosystem.

What foods do they naturally choose? Where do they live? Do they live in large communities, or spend most of their time alone?

There are endless activities that can be based around the study of insects and even favourite songs such as “That Ants Go Marching” and nursery rhymes such as “Ladybird, Ladybird” take on a whole new level of meaning after you have watched thousands of ants marching one by one or waved goodbye to a ladybird as it flies away home.

There are safe experiments that even the youngest child can take part in, such as sprinkling a pinch of sugar or some cake crumbs along a line of ants and watching how their activity changes.

It can be an enlightening experience to follow one ant from a food source, all the way along the ant super highway, to the point where it enters the nesting hole. What an epic journey for such a little creature!

This can also help with your child’s understanding of analogies of insect behaviour that are sometimes used in nursery stories.

Check out our colourful Insect Magnifying Glass and open your child’s eyes to the amazing world of insects.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Halloween Sensory Bag

Halloween can be hard for kids on the Autism Spectrum, but that doesn’t mean they should miss out on the fun. All the cool kids are joining in, so why shouldn’t they?

The cool thing about Halloween is that the ‘mainstream’ toys are all pretty sensory anyway! Think all things slimy, spiky, squidgy and squishy and that pretty much sums up the kind of party favours kids like at this time of year.

The Toy Bug knows how important it is to be inclusive and http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifsensitive so that ALL kids can take part in ALL events! They have put together a collection of 12 sensory toys and completed the package with a colourful Halloween bag to boot.

These toys are great for all events and occasions, and are a great travelling ‘kit’ of toys that will stimulate, soothe and occupy even the most fussy little ghoul, goblin or zombie. Kids can squeeze, stretch, bend, turn, spin and squish in this pack of Halloween horror.

The set, for ages 3+, includes:

* Halloween Bag (approx 36cm x 38cm - excluding handles)
* Soft Spider Squish Ball
* Pumpkin SLIME
* Wind up Ghost or Pumpkin
* Pumpkin Touch Bubbles
* Wooden Spin Top
* Bendy Skeleton Keyring
* Sticky Halloween Toy
* Hand Clapper
* Mouth Whistle
* Spiky Ball Keyring
* 2 "Happy Halloween" Balloons

This set is so cool that ALL kids will want one, and at $16.95 for a $22 value it is a fantastic way for your kid to stand out in the crowd during Halloween for the best of reasons.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Going To The Dentist

The one thing all parents of children who fall under the umbrella of ASD quickly learn, is to take away the element of surprise from upcoming events as much as possible.

Regardless of your child’s individual sensory requirements and level of understanding, preparing them for any event that may present challenges is always a good plan, and a visit to the dentist could be quite harrowing for your child without adequate preparation.

The most important first step to making a trip to the dentist run as smoothly as possible is to find a dentist who is child friendly. Ensure they have some experience of working with children who have special needs and know how to make their dental visit a fun and non-threatening event.

Ask other parents in your network of friends and through your child’s school or care facility for recommendations, most will gladly recommend a dentist who has been caring and accommodating of their child’s needs.

When you ring to make an appointment, have a talk with the reception staff about your child’s needs. Ask if it is possible for your child to have a tour of their rooms before his/her consultation, to have a look at and touch the equipment that may be used and become familiar with the process.

Allow your child to take along a comfort item or favourite toy with them for their dental visit, and keep the first visit short and positive, more of a familiarisation than a treatment if possible.

Keep in mind that many children with ASD sensory issues are easily overwhelmed by noises and sensory overload, therefore ear muffs or headphones with soothing music may help to drown any disturbing noises made by drills and suction tools. Several short consultations are often more successful than trying to rush through treating more than one tooth at a time.

Make sure the dentist explains each step of each process before it happens and shows each tool and explains its purpose before using it. It is important that your child does not feel rushed and is given enough time to absorb and become comfortable with each piece of information and process.

No matter how well you try to prepare some children, the entire process of a dental examination and treatment can simply be beyond their scope of coping skills. Sedation may work for younger children, or the option of a general anaesthetic may be offered to your child through some dental hospitals or clinics.

Above all try to encourage your child to maintain their own oral hygiene and health as it is the best course of prevention for dental problems.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Going To The Hairdresser

There are many social situations which can cause stress to a child with an Austism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) - taking them to get a haircut with a hairdresser is one of them.

A hair salon can be extremely distressing and invasive for an ASD child. If they are sensitive to noise or smell then they may be put off by the sounds of hairdryers and clippers not to mention the smell of chemical based hair products. Often the lighting and mirrors can be too much for them to handle as can the touch of the hands and scissors scraping against their neck.

So other than attempting to cut your child’s hair at home, there are some things you can do to make the experience more enjoyable for both of you.

It is definitely worthwhile visiting the salon prior to the appointment without your child. That way you can make special requests in terms of appointment times (opt for a quiet time in the salon) and establish the best place for your child to sit during the appointment. Advise the salon of your needs and mention that you will need a double appointment as it may take longer than usual to cut your child’s hair. Also let them know you would like to avoid any waiting time if at all possible prior to your appointment.

Make use of social stories and role play prior to the appointment and if necessary, take a photo of the salon on your first visit to use in the story to help familiarise your child with what is going to occur at the salon.

Distraction is important when scissors are involved so a portable dvd player, games console, headphones, or their favourite book or toy can help draw their attention away from the haircut. Use whatever works in terms of reassuring your child during the process - hold their hand, have them sit on your lap, hug them – anything that will help them relax.

Do not be upset if you are unable to complete the haircut in one visit. It may be worthwhile revisiting the salon in a few weeks to help continue the desensitising process. Further work may need to be done in terms of role play or social stories.

Choosing the salon that is best for you and your child may be one of the biggest aspects you have to overcome however once you do, your child may soon learn to feel proud of their “new haircut” and look forward to their next special visit.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lay-by For Christmas

Did you know that you can lay-by our products? With Christmas looming ahead, a lay-by system will make it easier for you to manage your cash flow while you stock up on gifts.

You can now order the toys that your children will love and pay for them over 12 weeks. You can start with a purchase of as little as $40.00 and all you need to pay is a 10% deposit.

We ask that you make regular fortnightly payments of whatever amount you can manage. We know that some weeks are better than others so we don’t impose a set amount on you. If you would like to pay out the balance at any time within the 12 weeks, that is not a problem. We don’t impose any penalty amounts at all, unlike some of the major stores.

Our lay-by system is there for your convenience. We know that you want to shower your family with gifts at Christmas and this is one way of making it easier for you to do so.

Once your final payment has been received, your order will be delivered to you within 5-7 days. You can order your gifts and leave them stored with us until the big day is almost here. It’s so much easier than trying to hide them away from curious little eyes!

If you would like to use the lay-by system, all you need to do is to select “Lay-By” as your payment type at checkout. It’s that easy.

If you’d like to read more about our lay-by system pop over to the website.

Then, start shopping!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How To Use Our Packaging For Fun

Think back on past Christmases and kids' birthdays – remember when they put aside their presents in favour of the wrapping paper or the cardboard box? When we send you your next parcel, don't throw away the packaging – use it with your kids to have some fun. Simple materials like bubble wrap and corrugated cardboard shipped with our products provide great sensory input.

Lay bubble wrap on the floor like a little 'path' or road. Encourage your child to walk on their heels slowly, step by step along it (you may need to go first). They will not only feel the bubbly texture, they will feel it pop against their heels. They could also try walking on the soles of their feet to feel the slight difference.

With the corrugated cardboard, your child could firstly rub their hands or fingers along its ridge like texture, then try painting it with bright colours using a sponge or brush. Or better yet – finger paint! The paint on their fingers – and no doubt all over their hands – provides even greater tactile stimulation.

Use the bubble wrap and the corrugated cardboard together – cut them into “carpet” squares and lay a path on the floor to offer different textures for the feet.

You could also help your child make a textured collage. Cut different shapes out of the bubble wrap and corrugated cardboard and glue them to a piece of paper or cardboard.

So when you get your next Toy Bug order – save a trip to the recycling or rubbish bin by having fun with the packaging.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Toilet Chart

Toilet training children can be a challenging task for many parents and it is even more difficult for parents of children with ASD. Many of these kids are non-verbal and mostly communicate through the aid of visual cards. Without the perfect tool, toilet training these special children can lead to frustrations and a lot of mishaps.

With these important factors in mind, Magnetic Moves came up with the My Toilet Chart which has been specifically designed to aid children and their parents during the toilet training stage. It has the signature interactive and easy-to-use features of Magnetic Moves' charts, which make it a big hit among parents and children.

The chart allows the parent to use it to suit their child's needs. It has spaces for up to 5 goals and it's up to the parent to choose whether to use all 5 goals or start slowly with just one or two. Once the child achieves the goal, a star is placed under the goal in a column.

The chart is reusable as it is magnetic and with 35 colour-coded activity tiles, 20 star tiles and 5 balloon reward tiles, it's easy to adjust and personalise. There are also 50 extra stickers which can be used to encourage the child some more, as well as an easy-to-follow user guide.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Cubeo Organiser

For children on the Autism Spectrum, trying to remember the things they need to bring to school everyday can be a difficult task. T hey usually work on routine and when that changes, it sets them off balance. Children on the Autism Spectrum are also usually very visual learners and sometimes can have difficulty verbalising their thoughts or needs.

This is why the Cubeo is a revolution in teaching kids how to remember and organise the things they need for school. It is visual and colourful so they will find it engaging and easy to use. It comes in the form of a bag tag so kids can access it without having to undo tricky zips to get to it.

The Cubeo has over 80 reusable stickers which feature common items you'd find in the schoolbag of a primary school student, as well as stickers for extracurricular activities. There is also an information card where you can write down the contact and allergy details.

So how easy is the Cubeo to use? It's really simple. There's a front window that displays all the items that the child needs for that day. The ingenious drop-down cards allows the child to see and remember the other things he or she needs for specific days of the week.

Each pack of the Cubeo contains the device, a set of 90 reusable stickers and is available in blue, green, pink, and yellow.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Siblings and Autism

Having a sibling with a disability can be challenging and when the disability is ‘hidden’ or not so obvious like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it can be even harder.

‘Normal’ family life is rarely problem free. A family that never disagrees would be incredibly odd! The presence of an autistic child is unlikely to be the sole cause of such problems, although it may complicate or exacerbate struggles at various times.

Often the sibling with ASD will require extra attention from the parent, and the other children may understandably feel left out or resentful. It’s perfectly normal. No one likes to feel left out, regardless what age they are, or the reasoning.

So what do you do about it? Can you do anything? Absolutely!

Consider setting aside a short period daily or at minimum, weekly, to connect with the other family members and let them know they are special in their own way. Perhaps use the time when a child is travelling from school, undertaking a sport or activity or after siblings have gone to bed. Share a milkshake, a trip to the park or the shops, a book or a game, something simple where the sibling without a disability is not the centre of the activity or event. How special would it be to have a designated ‘date’ with mum or dad, or better, both!

Don’t forget kids are pretty resilient too and research suggests that in the majority of families, the benefits of having a sibling with special needs far outweighs the disadvantages.

Tolerance, acceptance, patience, compassion, a strong sense of equality, social justice and a greater understanding of people and their differences are all common traits in people who have the blessing of a person with additional needs, Autism related or otherwise, in their family.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sesame Street Puppets

Since its first airing in 1969, Sesame Street has been a firm favourite with children of all ages and there are many good reasons for that. Designed specifically with an educational curriculum and aimed at creatively explaining cultural and social situations in a way that young children can relate to, it was the first television show of its kind and still remains one of the most popular.

Many parents of young children these days were avid viewers of Sesame Street in their own childhood and we all get a little warm and fuzzy when we see our favourite muppet monster captivating our own little ones.

The show has continued to evolve over the last forty years, with developing technology and changes in our day to day world, but many of the key characters are still the same.

We have some wonderful Sesame Street Hand Puppets in store and they are perfect for encouraging creative role playing with your children.

It’s easy to role play with characters we all know so well and most mums, dads and even grandparents can just as easily slip into character when it comes to Sesame Street muppets as well as any three or four year old can.

Colourful and cuddly, these plush hand puppets are just the ticket for endless hours of imaginative play and your children can easily become the puppet masters that bring these wonderful characters alive.

A cute addition to a sing-along or a counting game, for learning the alphabet song and even being a familiar friend in unfamiliar situations, these puppets will quickly become a fun part of your toy family.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

ASD And The Drama Of The Airport

Airports are huge, noisy, brightly lit areas of CHAOS!

They can send anyone over the edge, especially a child on the spectrum.

As with all new environments, it is important your child feels safe. Bring activities they enjoy to keep them occupied, familiar foods and anything that keeps them calm and helps them to feel secure. This is for both during your time at the airport and on the flight itself.

It’s also important they are dressed comfortably and it's really helpful if you dress your child in brightly coloured clothes. It makes them much easier to spot in crowds, should they wander off!

Set them up with activities whilst you’re waiting in lines as well as waiting for the flight to take off.

In preparing your child for the airport, the use of social stories is fabulous and helps your child to understand and anticipate what is coming. Ideally, and if it's an option, try a trip or two to the airport itself, so they are more familiar with the environment.

Your best strategy, however, is to ask for help. If you have someone to be a second pair of hands and help keep your child entertained, then that’s what you want to aim for.

However, that is not always an option, so don’t be scared to ask the airline staff for help. Explain your child has special needs, and that they don’t do well with lining up. Being open and upfront will ensure your needs are respected, and it will also help the airline staff to help you.

If you can afford it, avoid the low-cost airlines as they often don’t have the resources to help. That is, they may be slightly understaffed and frazzled and not able to give you the assistance you require.

Finally, be aware of the strong smells and loud noises of the airport, as well as the visuals; strong, bright lights, and loads of people!

Travelling on an airplane should essentially be fun - however as with anything, the more familiar they are with an environment the better.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Colour and Number Puzzle

I like the look of this puzzle. I love the rainbow of colours and the soft, curving shape of the pieces. They are very inviting and little hands enjoy feeling the smooth curves of every piece.

The Colour and Number Puzzle is a great toy for hand-eye coordination and learning numbers and colours. The pieces are double-sided: one side has the name of the colour and the other has a number.

Apart from the obvious use as a puzzle, you can invent all sorts of games using these pieces. If your child is struggling to learn about colour, invent a game that makes them select the right colour to win.

Adding each piece of the puzzle into its spot is excellent for developing hand-eye co-ordination, too.

The puzzle is made of wood for durability and it comes housed in a solid wooden tray.

All materials used are child-safe and non-toxic.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Helping With The Rules Of Board Games

Autism is explained as being a continuum and some autistic children will have some physical, emotional and mental facilities that function normally, whilst other facilities might be compromised and require boosting through practice and refinement. Common areas across the spectrum of autism that need practice and refinement include the areas of communication and social skills.

It goes without saying that one should try to think up games and activities for autistic children that will help build their communication skills and functionality. One of the best ways of improving functionality is through continual practice and repetitive action. Simple board games help an autistic child learn to count and take turns for example, and this in turn will help with social interaction and learning.

Games that focus on cause and effect are also effective and since board games thrive on routine and are often designed to be very visually appealing (think snakes and ladders), it shouldn’t be so hard to convince a child to play these games.

Visual rules can really help a child with autism learn the rules of a game much more quickly and board game visual supports are one way of speeding up the process of understanding. Here you will find a range of templates for some great games including bingo. You may also be able to visualise many of the other board games you wish to play with your child. You can print off the visual templates and start playing games with your child straight away.

Remember that “practice makes perfect”. Remain patient and soon board games will become routine and help expand your child’s social and communication skills.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Holidays – Keep Those Kids Busy

Most children are used to relatively structured days and activities during the school term, at pre-school or school, and can be left a little lost during the holidays. Holidays do tend to set off the “I’m bored” in kids and leave mums frazzled and annoyed.

Avoiding this frustration is as simple as organising a minimum of one structured or semi-structured activity per day. Depending on the age or dependence of your children, will depend on your level of involvement; if you’d like them happily and safely occupied whilst you attend to something you need to, make sure you structure in activities they can do mostly unsupervised as well.

Activities may include:

• Craft - cutting and pasting, painting, drawing, playdough;
• Chalk drawings - either on a footpath, garage floor or the side of the house;
• Building a cubbyhouse using sheets, blankets and the furniture;
• Bug and insect catching;
• Set up a game, challenge or obstacle course (indoor or outdoor); and
• Research - have the kids research a topic or subject they’re interested in.

Other activities that keep the kids busy and wear them out include bike rides along a specific route or excursions – particularly if you can use public transport, as this makes the day just a little more exciting for them. Or how about exploring the neighbourhood on bike or foot?

If it helps, set up a timetable of activities similar to that of a school holiday program. Get the kids involved and help you set up the program. The structure will help lessen the school holiday chaos and the kids will have no reason to be bored.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Crafts That ASD Kids Will Love

Little hands like to be kept busy and craft activities are a timeless winner with kids of all ages and stages of development.

Craft projects allow for children to experience and experiment with different textures and colours, to plan and produce something of their choice and to tweak and adjust their masterpieces to suit their own taste and preferences.

If your child is uncomfortable with the sensation of sticky paint or paste try different combinations of gloves. Often soft cotton gloves worn inside of disposable latex ones will be easier to tolerate than latex gloves alone, and this will reduce discomfort of any sensitivities they may have to crafting materials too.

Encourage your child to feel different textures and try a variety of crafting methods, but keep them well within their comfort zone, otherwise their creative juices are likely to dry up before you even get started.

Work in a well ventilated area to minimize the odours of glues, etc, although bear in mind that any breeze will blow paper, glitter and any other light items around which can quickly become very frustrating.

HANDS in Autism have a wonderful range of craft and activity projects specifically designed with ASD kids in mind and each of the steps are easy for both adult and child to follow. They also provide some handy templates for How To Charts and all of their ideas leave room for adjustment to your child’s particular needs.

We stock Squeeze Scissors, Animal Finger Crayons and several other Art and Craft items that make great additions to your child’s craft kit. These items are all easy to use and help to personalise the crafting experience for your child.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dr Sheldon Cooper – Big Bang and Asperger’s

It’s an ongoing question. Is Dr Sheldon Cooper from television's The Big Bang Theory on the Autism spectrum or isn’t he? While the writers and creators of the show say that they didn’t write the character as having Asperger’s Syndrome, Sheldon exhibits lots of classic symptoms of both Asperger’s and OCD.

Just consider his love of routine.

• He sits in the same place and won’t sit anywhere else
• He has a set schedule for toilet and bathroom use
• He has a set schedule for weeknight activities
• He orders the same food every time and won’t accept variations
• He doesn’t understand emotion in others.
• He can only accept logical and fact
• He is socially awkward
• Limited interests
• Brilliant in certain areas

I don’t think the show will ever classify his character in any way. As Sheldon himself says, “My Mother had me tested” and nothing came of it.

What I love about The Big Bang Theory and Sheldon is that it takes away some of the mystery for people who don’t really understand ASD. It shows a real human who is coping in the real world, despite his own set of peculiarities. It shows a man who is capable of loving in his own way and who is willing to try to do things the way others do them if it’s really necessary.

Look at the way he looked after the character of Penny when she hurt her shoulder. He might have struggled with the cuddling but he managed a “there, there.” He also managed to sing his own special song “Soft Kitty” to help her settle to sleep.

Does Dr Sheldon Cooper have Asperger’s Syndrome? Who cares? He’s loyal and he’s lovable and it doesn’t really matter how he’s “classified”, does it?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Winter Foods and ASD

Winter brings with it that wonderful feeling of rugging up and enjoying delicious hearty meals that we don’t crave in the warmer months. But it can also bring it with a number of challenges for parents with fussy mouths to feed, particularly those with ASD and the often associated food sensitivities.

There are ways to make winter food tasty and healthy even for the most discerning diner. Being involved in the food preparation stage can help to create excitement for new foods. Winter meals are particularly good for this as they usually involve simple preparation followed by time in the oven. From mixing and measuring to getting things out and putting them away again, your little one may be more motivated to sample and enjoy something they’ve had an active part in creating.

If it comes down to the food itself, try using the meals you know they love as a base concept and putting your own winter spin on it. Homemade meatballs with chunky salsa, delicious soups, pita bread pizzas with sweet potato or odd shaped pasta with round cut vegetables. Fun variations that can allow for the cheeky addition of easily disguisable vegetables. Then there are simple yummy sauces which can be made using natural ingredients matched to the flavours you know your child enjoys (like capsicum jam which tastes sweet like shop bought tomato sauce).

Fortunately for sufferers of food allergies (and their parents), a rise in awareness in recent years has seen the emergence of an endless number of ‘free from’ products available for those seeking out alternatives. You can now get almost any product gluten free from the local supermarket with an increasing number of dairy and sugar free products also available. Plan whatever type of meal it is you want to tempt your fussy one with and then replace the usual ingredients for alternatives like gluten free bread and pasta.

Winter is the perfect opportunity to be able to recreate simple dishes and slip in extra vegetables and other nutritious additions. The use of alternative and natural wholesome ingredients, plus a touch of creativity, can help you to make fun, tasty and healthy food for your fussy eater this winter.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Is Your Child Just Angry?

With the rise in understanding of Asperger’s Syndrome and the condition being spoken of more at a community level – and of course, all the bombarding of information we receive and the resulting feelings of guilt we endure – when your child throws a few tantrums, especially in public, it’s easy to be concerned your child may have the disorder.

Temper tantrums are common in toddlers and pre-schoolers and are very different from the “meltdowns” experienced by children on the Autism Spectrum.

A tantrum is, essentially, a power play when a child doesn’t get what he wants and makes his frustration or anger clear by having a “tantrum”. He kicks, screams and flails his arms.

A meltdown, on the other hand, is often caused by something in the environment that has upset the child or caused him confusion or distress. It may not be obvious to you or others, and is not always a result of frustration or anger. The main difference between a tantrum and a meltdown is control.

Children having a tantrum are in complete control of their actions, although it doesn’t always appear so. They look to see if they are getting attention from those around them, will ensure they are safe from harm, and will perform specifically with a certain goal in mind. Once that goal is achieved, the tantrum will stop.

Meltdowns are characterised by a complete loss of control, as though something has taken over the child. They are generally more risky, with no regard for their own safety or that of others, and they have no interest in the social situation. They have nothing specific they wish to gain from the “behaviour” and do not check to see if anyone is watching.

They are also generally preceded by a “zooming out” of your child, or a period of being quiet and uninvolved in their environment. A tantrum will follow a specific trigger, such as frustration or anger, or a specific incident.

Ignoring a tantrum is likely to result in a cessation of the outburst, whereas a meltdown will continue until it winds itself down. Children having meltdowns need help to reign themselves in, as they quite literally lose control of their actions, and to ensure they are safe.

Although both appear to look very much like “a spoilt little brat not getting his way”, they are significantly different in their triggers, control and cessation. We all have bad days, even children, so being able to tell the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown, may just help when it comes to controlling the situation and your child.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Good Activities For Kids With ASD

Children diagnosed with ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder are characterised as having difficulties with social interaction and communication, as well as having repetitive behavior and limited interests. That is why, when choosing activities to occupy them, you might like to find activities which address these specific problems and make it fun at the same time.

Playing a team sport is considered as an ideal activity because it involves interacting and socialising with teammates. It also demands large amounts of energy, which all kids have in excess! It’s a good way of channelling their energy into something constructive.

In fact, any physical activity is good. Swimming is excellent for co-ordination and concentration on instructions. Dancing, gym and yoga help children learn to control their bodies.

Don’t look past the creative arts, either. Many children are much better at expressing themselves in art or music than they can with words or speech. It opens up a new world of communication.

Activities like jigsaw puzzles, playing with Lego and woodcrafts are excellent at helping tune fine motor skills. This can also help them learn how to focus on one task for long periods of time.

Another good game to consider is Jenga. Aside from aiding children with their fine motor skills, they can also learn the value of waiting and taking turns. This is especially helpful when teaching about patience.

Encourage your child to try different activities. There will be one that makes a big difference in both of your lives.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kids At The Supermarket

Grocery shopping with a child can be tough at the best of times, however, when your child has Asperger’s or Autism, it adds a whole other level of challenges!

ASD children can be particularly sensitive to stimuli including sight, sound and smell. The bright lights and noises of shopping centres can lead to meltdowns, and the smells can be overbearing.

If possible, take your child shopping during less busy times of the day. Also keep yourself well prepared, bringing along items you know will keep them calm, or help to calm them should they not cope well.

Constantly talk to your child to reassure them and have them hold weighty objects, or place shopping items on their lap as you go around the store. This helps them to feel grounded and aids the stimulation of necessary touch sensors, providing a “weights” workout.

Choosing food can be difficult, particularly in fresh food markets, where smells can be extremely powerful to your child. Having them in charge of the list, if they are up to it, helps, as does the holding and carrying of items. Allowing them to explore different food textures with their hands stimulates the touch sensors. This is particularly applicable with fruits and vegetables, for example, as they have unusual or highly textured skins.

Let them be as involved as they need to be, whilst also monitoring their handling of items and how well they are coping with the environment. Introducing them to the shopping experience by taking them on short trips can lay strong foundations for the bigger trips, so taking the time to do this can make a significant difference to their experience and yours.

Little things, like simply allowing them to push the trolley, with its weight and vibrations, can be enough to keep them calm. Remember, work with your child and their needs.

Mostly – enjoy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Comics Can Be Beneficial

I used to love comics when I was little. I particularly loved the Donald Duck comics for their colourful images and their storytelling.

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed them until I saw a post over at Wired Magazine that pointed out how useful they can be as a developmental tool for kids with ASD.

Interestingly, I have also received a lot of feedback from parents of children with autism sharing about just how valuable they have found comic books to be for their children. And,simultaneously Bill Zimmerman of Make Beliefs Comix (who we wrote about over a year ago) made contact to say that he too has had many parents sharing with him the value they find in his site. He was able to share some of these from parents who eloquently explain the value of comics in supporting children with autism who learn visually, to build an understanding of emotions and to develop social stories which help children learn and prepare for activities and engagement.

Have you ever bought comics for your child? They will work just like the PECS cards because children will recognise the visual expression on the faces in the pictures. Pop into makebeliefscomix.com and have a play.

You can make comics for yourself and create your own story line. And at the same time you get to relive the enjoyment you received from comics when you were a young child.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sensory Toys Under $10

Everything we do involves the use of our senses. As infants, we learn and discover the world through our senses. By allowing our children to develop their senses as early as possible, we help them increase their cognitive, physical, and emotional abilities. This results in the development of the infant's brain.

Sensory development starts as early as the gestational period and continues through childhood. This is why it is important that we provide our kids with a multitude of sensory stimulation from the time they are born. If we start early, then we have a greater chance of influencing their brain development while it is at its most malleable state - this particularly means during the first 7 years.

There are many children's toys that can help. Some are expensive, but there are also those that are affordable. Here are just a few sensory toys from The Toy Bug that are under $10.

Wooden musical instruments such as whistles and castanets are perfect. The whistle will help your child learn how to shape the mouth and blow, as well as help develop his/her listening skills. Meanwhile, the castanets are fun to click and jump around to. Both are great for practicing co-ordination skills.

The Flashing Spinning Top can help your child develop their hand-eye coordination as they try to spin the top.

The Animal Tape Measure is one of my favourites. It’s cute enough to be a toy but it teaches children about measurement and length.

Jigsaws are great for developing letter and colour recognition and fine motor skills and who doesn't love dinosaurs?

This list shows that great toys don’t have to be expensive to be valuable.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tell Your Child How Great They Are

In our day to day lives, with all the stuff that happens and the various activities we must attend to - or just when we are stressed - it’s very easy to forgot to remind your kids just how great they are.

Praising kids can have profound effects on their emotional and psychological development, as well as boosting their confidence and sense of self-worth. Reminding them every now and again just how special they are reinforces the things you like about them, and just as importantly, the behaviours you like them to repeat.

It helps to remind them they are valued and loved. It is extremely easy to feel the whole world is against you and you can’t do anything right, particularly when you hear it all the time. Even if you’re not focussing directly on the negative, not mentioning the positives, can still have a significant effect.

Experts commonly recommend “focussing on the positive” behaviours - finding things to give praise for. This is a great idea, as it has the effect of reinforcing that behaviour. It is particularly important when you are teaching a child certain behavioural patterns such as how to behave in public, using manners or to avoid hitting or hurting others. It is very very easy to take notice of, and react to negative behaviour that impacts on others regardless of whether it is verbal or physical.

Some children behave negatively just for attention – any attention, even being yelled at to some children is better than being ignored. Therefore, noticing and commenting on the more positive behaviour is not only beneficial, it also stops the child having to be so reliant on bad behaviour to seek attention.

Really, though, we all just like being acknowledged and praised for the things we do. It’s also really nice just to hear someone say “you’re great"! Kids are no different.

It is not essential to reward with gifts or treats, nor do you even need to go out of your way to do something special. Reminding your child how great they are also needn’t be an analysis of why, how or what they did. A simple “good job”, “you’re great” or “I love you” as you walk past them can considerably boost a child’s day.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Children with symptoms of Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome can often be very inflexible. They love their routine and have difficulty varying from it. I have heard many parents worrying out loud about what the future holds for their ASD children.

This video is really interesting. The inflexibility of your child could actually be linked to a preference and understanding of systemising. By systemising, I mean the processes that go on around us every day. For children that can be simple routine - dinner, bath and bed. As they grow up their awareness will extend further into the world.

Have a listen to the clip and I’m sure it will mean a lot to you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In-Car Entertainment

Heading off on a road trip with kids in tow can be a bit daunting unless you are well prepared.

Sitting in the back of the car for long periods of time is a bit boring for anyone, but for children who require consistent levels of stimulation it can be a real challenge.

For those who require sensory stimulation it’s a good idea to provide some new sensory toys for the journey, as experiencing and experimenting with new sensations can be a positive way to keep them occupied for quite a while.

We have some great toy options for back seat travellers, including our recent addition, the Sensory Easter Pack. Having a couple of sensory books like Diggory Dog Dress Up Book and Pet Tails Book also provides a different avenue of entertainment.

There are many different game options designed for travel like the Zingo! Travel Game that make it easy to keep all of the pieces together. String my ABC's is also great for journeys so little ones can practice their beading and fine motor skills while learning the alphabet! And for the older kids try Word Spin - a fun filled, easy to play, go anywhere word game suitable for the whole family.

If you travel regularly, try to take some different toys on each journey, as doing the same things every time can make them lose their charm.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Computers and Autism

Studies have shown that using the computer can help pacify kids with Autism Spectrum and encourage the development of their communication abilities. Because of their very limited and focused attention, autistic children may feel threatened with face-to-face interaction, so much so that they retreat into their own world and can be very hard to communicate with.

However, it has been found that this trait could be improved by the use of computers. This is because it helps the user to combine different focuses effectively. It also provides a comfortable environment where individuals on the Autism Spectrum can experience beneficial transactions involving communication, social interaction, and imaginative play instinctively. And because they can actively control computers, they feel less threatened, which prevents them from withdrawing into their own world.

Another benefit of using the computer is that it creates a safe environment where they can explore, play, and be creative without the pressure of verbal communications.

Computers are also seen to be therapeutic to those with:

• Virtual tracking and scanning issues
• Learning or memory problems
• Eye-hand coordination difficulties
• Planning and organisation concerns
• Spatial analysis and synthesis issues
• Problem-solving difficulties

While computers can be beneficial tool for those affected by Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism, excessive use can lead to obsession and problems arising from inappropriate materials being viewed. It is always a good measure to limit use, as well as set some rules to protect children from Internet scams and bad materials.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Overcoming Bath Time Fears

For most children diagnosed with Autism, bath time is something that's hard to go through. This is because some of them are hypersensitive to touch and every action that's associated with bath time, like soaping the body and hair or drying with the towel becomes a torture. Their sensory receptors are overloaded.

As with many children at bath time, the best thing you can do is to distract them with some games or activities.

If it is waterproof, allow them to take their favourite toy with them so they can play with it in the water. That will give them a whole new experience with that item. There are lots of games designed for bath play. Bath squirts are always fun and a little water mess is a sure sign of fun!

Toys like tea sets and dolls are great for bath time, too. Children mimic the adult world by learning to wash and dry plates and cups or washing dolly’s hair. Sometimes, by being able to wash the doll as you are washing them, the child learns to understand the routine and becomes less stressed. A clever doll to use in the bath is Wayne Needs a Bath (or Julia needs a bath for the girls). Dirt marks printed on the doll are treated with heat sensitive ink. When put in warm water of 32-35, the marks will go away.

Another handy toy is the Farm Friends set with soft foam animals that stick to the tiles when wet.

Pet Fashion in the Tub is very clever. It is a set containing a foam dog and cat and 32 different accessories that they can be dressed up in.

Each of these sets packs away neatly for use next time.

Toys are great tools to help children learn to cope with life. If bath time is a problem, bring out your favourite toy to help.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Autistic Girls

“Females are biologically and socially expected to be nurturing, intuitive and empathetic, and yet autism is primarily a social-emotional disorder that profoundly affects relationships and social behaviour. For girls, the collision between autistic characteristics and social expectations can be especially difficult -- and almost unsurmountable during the teen years.” (Autism in Girls Poses Unique Education, Social Challenges)

The issues facing a teenage girl diagnosed with autism are very unique and need to be addressed and dealt with quite differently to teenage boys facing the same diagnosis.

Social Interaction
The friendships and networks of teenage girls are very complex and demanding, especially with the rise in popularity of social networking sites, email and text messaging. Autistic girls find it difficult to have empathy and connection and be involved in fast paced communication with a lot of unspoken or hidden messages.

Anxiety and Depression
There has been a lot of research into the links between autism and depression. Although the ratio for autism affecting boys vs. girls is 1:4, over half of autistic patients with mood disorders were female.

Sensory and awareness issues mean that for some girls they are unaware of the need to bathe, shave or wax, wear deodorant or generally look after themselves.

Eating Disorders
Recent research suggests a link between anorexia and autism. Around one fifth of girls diagnosed with anorexia have autism spectrum features. To confound this, being undernourished and underweight only exaggerates autism traits.

In addition to problems interacting socially, keeping up with fashion and teenage girl communication, more than half of girls with autism spectrum disorders have been bullied, frequently truant and avoid participating in sports.

There really needs to be an investment in programs aimed at teenage girls affected by autism that will help raise awareness and build social skills, aim to correctly diagnose and treat depression and eating disorders. However, developing real friendships is one thing that could make all the difference.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Baby Time

It has been baby season lately, with new little beings arriving in my end of the world. There is nothing as lovely as the feel of a newborns skin, is there?

I have been looking for some special gifts for these special people and I have found some wonderful items that I'd like to share with you.

Your Cheeky Monkey specialises in online baby products and the range is wonderful. I couldn't go past the Sophie the Giraffe collection especially this teether toy.

At ILiv Cards I found some stunning birth announcement cards These are gorgeous and by adding the photo of your newborn child the card becomes a keepsake and heirloom.

I also found some useful and stylish personalised baby blankets at Blanky 4 Me and for this time of year they would be a great gift. You can buy them for kids and adults, too.

Of course I can't forget our range of sensory baby toys which are so great to play with and so good for baby's development. I admit to a fondness for Boris, the PJ sheep. He is soft and feels wonderful but he's also useful in storing your child's pj's.

There are so many wonderful baby product available online that there is sure to be something for everyone.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Musical Toys - Hitting The Right Note

Music is such an important part of people’s lives and has an impact on us in many different ways. It can relax us, make us want to dance, tap a beat or sing. Music is used as therapy for many different situations and for people of all ages and backgrounds.

In 1943, when psychiatrist Leo Kanner first introduced the term "autism", he observed that several of his patients showed a real love for music. Ever since then, therapists and researchers have agreed that children with autism often respond to music, melody and rhythm.

Music is a form of non-verbal communication which is non-threatening and can soothe and calm an autistic child. Music enables children to communicate and express their feelings.

Some simple music therapy to try at home:

1. Get a simple instrument such as finger cymbals or hand clusters and play it next to your face. This will help your child become more comfortable with eye contact.

2. Sing some simple songs while holding a doll or stuffed toy. Act out the song using the doll.

3. Using some castanets or maracas, take it in turns to play a rhythm.

4. The rainbow sound blocks are a wonderful toy that can not only make music with the beads in each block, your child can also look through the different colours as well as stack and construct objects.

We also have many other musical instruments including triangles, rainmakers and xylophones which are perfect for use at home with your child.

Parents and carers of autistic children usually find their child has a real affinity for music and will be able to recreate and remember songs. You might want to even consider getting your child lessons in a particular instrument which will provide both self-esteem and a creative outlet which will no doubt be of great benefit.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Waiting For An Autism Diagnosis

Suddenly you are called in for a meeting with your child’s teacher, preschool teacher or day care. Perhaps you have always had an inkling or concern about certain behaviours in your child? If the word “autism” has been mentioned or crossed your mind, you will certainly be eager to get a diagnosis. But then you find out it is weeks or months before you can get an appointment for a professional assessment and diagnosis.

So what can you do while you are waiting for a diagnosis?

At Home Play Therapy You Can Do Yourself

Early intervention is essential in any diagnosis of autism. However there are some things you can start with at home that will benefit your child, regardless of whether they get diagnosed with autism or not. Referred to as “developmental therapies” they can include floor time and play therapy. Basically they involve intensive parent-child interaction that feels a lot like playing.

Find Parent Support Groups And Information

Either in your local area or online, parent support groups can provide advice, resources, information and most importantly, a listening ear.

There are also some really great websites to have a look at:


Your Reaction

Waiting for a diagnosis can be a very difficult time. It might feel like you are in ‘limbo’ until you get the results back. You could experience a range of feelings such as sadness, grief, relief, shock, denial or anger. It is important to work through your emotions and remember, a diagnosis won’t change your child, but it will open up services and a direction so you can begin to help them.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Aspergers - a short documentary

This is a short video documentary (just over 4 minutes)and it explains Asperger's Syndrome very well. It will help you to understand and explain what is happening to your child.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Kitty Tails

This is such a clever book that I just have to tell you about it.

It is called Kitty Tails and it's a is a great educational and interactive book for little ones aged from 0+.

Even better - it's fun!

There are lots of activities to keep baby amused with different textures, colourful pictures and those irresistible tails they will have fun pulling and guessing whose tail belongs to who.

Just see if you can resist stroking and pulling all those colouful and textural tails! I can't. Having a story to go with them is really just a bonus!

Buy a copy for your little one and see who gets most fun out of it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Coping with Fussy Eaters

For a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder it can be hard to explain why certain foods are ok and others are not. Because their extreme sensitivities go far beyond the difference in flavour between foods, texture can be extremely important and food temperature can also make a difference to how well any food is received.

The taste buds on our tongues tell us if a food is sweet, sour, bitter or salty. You mgiht find that your child will eat only one of these 'tastes' or will avoid one. This is when you need your lateral thinking to kick in.

It’s important that you meet your child’s nutritional and physical needs while being understanding and tolerant of their heightened sensitivity. Always be encouraging, but never force your child or get angry with them, no matter how frustrated you may feel.

Don’t offer too many choices at a time, one or two options on their plate at a time is usually enough.

If they have a preference for sweet foods try adding a sweet topping or marinade to your food. A touch of honey does wonders. Similarly, if they prefer something more salty try a sauce on the food you are giving your child. As long as they eat a variety of foods it doesn't really matter how they eat it, does it?

Try each flavour in different textures and at different temperatures. Record your child’s reactions and reception of the different foods that you offer.

It’s very handy to be able to look back over a comprehensive food diary, not only to work out patterns of what they like to eat, but so a dietician can help you to keep track of how much they are actually eating and where there may be gaps in their overall nutrition.

Introduce new foods gradually, always offering a food that they are comfortable with alongside new food sensations.

Many parents learn to hide nutritious foods in well tolerated foods, by perhaps peeling and grating or mashing and mixing through their favourite foods.

Every child is different and a fussy eater is a fussy eater whether or not the child has ASD. Don't worry too much about what they eat as long as they do!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

ASD and repetitive behaviours

Many children with ASD will have repetitive behaviours. They can range from simple rocking in their chair to dramatic flapping and jumping. For some children it can be more serious and lead to them harming themselves.

Over the years there have been lots of theories put up about why they need repetitive behaviour and how to manage it but even now some of them are not fully proven to be effective. The way you manage repetitive behaviour in your child depends on how severe it is, how much it interferes with life and the reason you believe it is happening. Often you are going to have to trust your instincts but remember that you know your child better than anyone else.

When does the repetitive behaviour occur?
Is there a particular time or place in which your child starts this behaviour? If so, try to identify what is going on around him that might be irritating the senses. Is it a normal reaction to being tired or stressed? Many so called ‘normal’ people find themselves rocking on the spot or doodling repetitively in that situation, too.

Is the behaviour severe?
Is your child hurting herself? Is she placing herself in danger with the behaviour? Is it making social contact difficult to manage? Sometimes the behaviour becomes something that the people around the child can become used to because it doesn’t really intrude. Most children can accept odd behaviour in other kids and will let your child work through whatever is bothering her.

Just remember that just because they have a repetitive behaviour it doesn’t have to stop. As a parent, it is up to you to decide when you need to intervene to protect your child’s safety and ability to fit into normal situations

Why is it happening?
You know your child well. What do you think is causing the behaviour? Is the child stressed or upset? Is it possible that they are using the action to calm themselves by blocking out an irritant?

Sometimes the behaviour is known to happen when your child discovers something new that he or she would like to explore. Is there something new around that you could start feeling and exploring together? Is there a toy that you can use to help your child become comfortable with the new experience?

If the behaviour has the potential to be damaging you will need to seek professional help. If not, try to work out what provokes it and develop a strategy to explore it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Liquid Drop Timer

Sometimes when things get to be too much your child will need calming. It's very difficult to find something soothing when you are on the road or out in public. This timer could come in very handy for you.

It is a liguid drop timer and it is only 12 cms in length so you can easily tuck it into your handbag or your childs schoolbag and keep it with you.

A series of blue globules travel down a spiral path at very slow motion speed. It taks between 6 and 8 minutes to make the trip. It is a little like a lava lamp but it doesn't to be plugged in to work. You can't help but watch the drops as they move and it is incredibly soothing. You will find your own mind calming as your child's does.

This is one of our best sellers and I certainly know why. Priced at only $10.95 it is worth its weight in gold.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Music for Autism

Music has a way of speaking to people and the words are often just a bonus. In the case of these songs the words are the key. They give an insight into the world of a child with autism spectrum disorder. They tell us what it is like to live as they do.

This first song is sweet and gentle with a country feel to it.

This one has a harder edge to it and will probably appeal to older kids especially if they know and like Jack Black.

This is just one of the songs from the Miracle Project album "Fly" which features duets between celebrities and children with autism. Isn't that a great idea?

Music has a way of conveying the message where regular conversation doesn't. I hope you enjoy listening to these songs and I hope that they help you in your understanding of ASD.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Self Help Toys

One of the wonders of childhood is that children learn so much through play. Toys are an important part of their day for amusement and comfort as well as for learning.

The Toy Bug has a carefully chosen range of toys that we call 'self help' toys because they help children learn basic skills while they play.

This is Sandra's Wardrobe. Isn't it gorgeous? A great toy for developing bilateral integration (both hand working together), illustrating body part concept and awareness and improve hand-eye coordination. It is also excellent for helping children become familiar with morning routine as you start to prepare them for transition into school. They can help the doll dress for school with clothes, sunhat and school bag, before they have to do it for themselves.

This is our Puppy Activity Doll.
He's a perfect example of the toy that is for comfort as well as learning. He is such a nice, soft armful to cuddle but if you look closely you will see that he is full of little learning activities. With laces to untie, a buckle to unbuckle and snaps to be undone, little ones will be fascinated with this bright and coloured friend.

We have quite a selection of Self Help toys to choose from. All you need to do is to decide which skills your child needs to learn or practice and that will help you to choose the perfect toy from our range.
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