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.
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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.

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Cheers Jo xo