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.

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