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.

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