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.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Back to School

While most of us see school as a happy place full of kids to play with and things to do, for children with special needs it can be a nightmare. New places, new people and new sensory assaults can make school a traumatic experience.

There are a few steps that you can take at the beginning of each year which will help to mimimise the impact of this big step.

1. Meet the teacher.
Make an appointment with your child's teacher so that you can meet before the school year begins. It will help the teacher to better understand your child's needs but it will also let your child become familiar with the teacher and the environment. The more often your child can visit the easier it will be to settle in when term begins. He or she will know the layout of the room and have experienced the sounds and textures around it.

2. Wear the uniform at home
This is especially important if the uniform or the shoes are new. There is nothing worse than wearing scratchy clothes or buttoned up collars for the first time unless it is the torture of new shoes! For children with heightened sensitivities it is even worse. Let them try on the clothes at home. Wearing will soften collars and shoes over time and you can do it in small stages. Coming to terms with new buttons or buckles will take a while. Doing it gradually over a few months is often the best approach. Working through these things before the school year begins will make the first week a lot more comfortable for both of you.

3. Tell the teacher about your child's sensitivities.

Make sure that your teacher knows what might trigger a reaction from your child. Is she sensitive to noise? What sort of noise - the babble of busy kids or the sudden noise of the bell? If he dislikes the feel of carpet the teacher will need to create a special place to sit. Most sensitivities can be managed with some careful planning.

Author, Sally Thibaut, created a report that she discussed with the teacher every year. "I would re-visit the School Report each year and would make time with each new teacher to ensure they understood just what David’s needs, his challenges, his strengths and his weaknesses were each year, and that we were all on the same page when it came to ensuring just exactly what our expected outcomes were. The information then formed the basis of an IEP – Individualized Education Programme, that was updated and revised each year." She has made the report available as a
free report for you to adapt to your child's needs.

4. Talk to your child
In all the fuss of informing schools and teachers about your child's needs you might forget that you need to talk to your child, too. While you practice putting on the uniform or finding the label on the schoolbag, talk about what to expect at school Start building familiarity before the child has even started school. One way to introduce the idea is through images. Here is the link to a flip book created by Marita at Stuff with Things to help her child get used to the idea of starting school. It is also a free download.

The day your child starts school is a huge milepost in your lives. The more preparation you can do before that day comes, the more likely it is to be a great day.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Brain Development

The National Institute of Mental Health (USA) has been doing some research into the way the human brain developes.

Using magnetic resonance imaging, the study examined changes in the thickness of the cerebral cortex, (the thin sheet of neurons that surrounds the outer surface of the brain) this is the part of the brain that is responsible for many higher mental processes.

The cortex grows thicker as a child ages and when they reach a cortical peak level they start a natural “pruning” process of thinning and refining their cortex, the brain rewires itself as it matures, discarding redundant neural connections.

Researchers found that the brains of children of higher IQ levels appeared to develop their cortex more slowly and in a different way to children with a more average intelligence level. These findings essentially allow scientists to identify physical features of the brain that correlate with IQ levels.

A child with an average IQ may reach their peak cortical levels at the age of seven, whereas children with higher IQs could be as old as thirteen before their peak cortical level is reached, and their “pruning” process was more dynamic and efficient.

It is hoped that continued studies in this area will help to identify and understand the differences in brain development in children with disorders such as attention deficit and schizophrenia.

It will be exciting to see what the future findings of this research can show us.
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