Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas To You and Your Family

May you enjoy every bit of the ups and downs that this time of year brings you.  Savour every hug and every touch.  Enjoy the food and the family.  Enjoy Christmas no matter whose eyes you are seeing it through.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Love and best wishes from the Toy Bug.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sensory Christmas Decorations


Christmas time is perfect to get the whole family together to make decorations for the Christmas tree.  In addition to having some fun, it is also an ideal opportunity to create some great sensory experiences.  Helping to create and place the decorations can sometimes make it easier for children with sensory issues to cope with the sensory overload that Christmas can bring.
If you don’t have these items around the house visit your local arts and craft store as they will have them in stock.  Pipe cleaners, cotton wool and tinsel all have different textures when you touch them and with some imagination you can make them into some fantastic decorations.

Also a good set of bright colourful flashing lights are a must for any Christmas tree and especially when the house lights are turned off.  Watching the flashing Christmas tree can be fascinating as well as seeing how the colours can change when they reflect off the furniture and walls in the room.

Pine needles on the Christmas tree also provide another sensory experience.  Fresh pine needles have a unique scent and add to the Christmas spirit and atmosphere as the smell permeates throughout the house.    

Adding candy cane to any Christmas tree can always be a bit of challenge as they are always falling off.  Maybe the odd one that hits the floor can be eaten as they also taste good especially as you are decorating the tree.  Placing an angel at the top of tree that plays Christmas carols can also appeal to the hearing senses as often the sounds and chimes these decorations make as they play their tunes is very different from the usual day to day sounds.
These are just some simple ideas that combine decorating your Christmas tree with some great sensory experiences but I am sure with a bit of imagination and some creative spirit you can come up with your own ideas.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Donating Gifts

As we know, Christmas is not just about receiving gifts but can also be about donating gifts to people who may be less fortunate than ourselves.

As highlighted on our Facebook page we recently packed a big box full of toys that we sent off to the Salvation Army. 

Each year the Salvation Army runs the Christmas Appeal for families who are struggling to make ends meet.  As stated on their website there are 25,000 Australian families that are homeless.  This is a staggering figure but it also highlights the plight many families find themselves in and often through no fault of their own.  Also, take the time to read about the stories that some families have faced and the hardships they have endured. 

As you do your Christmas shopping consider buying an extra gift that you can donate although there are also other ways you can make a contribution.  Have a look at the Salvation Army website for more details and information on the different ways you can donate and help out those who are less fortunate.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Child Safe App

What would you do if your child went missing?  There have been too many horrifying stories in recent times that would be any parent’s nightmare.  While a lot of the time if your child goes missing they often return without any incident but when they are actually missing, time can be critical and every second can count. 

A new application has recently been developed for use in Australia that can help to reduce the time taken to get information to police.  This has been adapted from a similar application used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and has been developed in collaboration with the Australian Federal Police.  
The application allows you to store photographs and other information about your children on your mobile phone such that in the unfortunate circumstance where your child goes missing it can be sent immediately to police and other relevant authorities. 

Another great feature of the application is that it includes safety advice and checklists as well as emergency contact numbers. 
The application is free to download and suitable for use on both the iPhone and Android phone.  The application can be downloaded now from Google Play and iTunes.
For more information follow this link to the media release on the Australian Federal Police website.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Photos With Santa

Are you interested in your child having their photo taken with Santa?  Highpoint Shopping Centre in Melbourne as part of their Sensitive Santa initiative has implemented special arrangements for children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

You can book a time so you, your family and Santa can have a photograph taken that is in a gentle and safe environment.  There are plenty of times available as this initiative runs from 3 to 12 December so call (03) 9318 1699 to make a booking at Highpoint Shopping Centre or follow this Santa Photo link to our Facebook page for more details.

Highpoint Shopping Centre is to be congratulated for this initiative and hopefully other shopping centres around the country also implement this program.  To try and continue to raise the awareness in the community Amaze (Autism Victoria) have an information pack that they can send out to you so you can take to your local shopping centre.  Therefore, whether you are a parent, carer, friend or a supporter follow the link so you can receive the information pack.

Having the special picture taken with Santa can have lasting memories and as our kids seem to grow up so fast these days, having photos are always great to have when reminiscing about their younger years.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Film About Autism


To help with raising the awareness, acceptance and understanding of people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), Autism Awareness Australia has created a short film titled “What are you doing?”.

This purpose of this film is to teach school age children about ASD and help them to better understand and accept their peers who may have ASD at their school or in the community.  The film is narrated by Tom Gleisner and Michael Whelan is the author who has also written “The Other Country”.
The film includes interviews with family and friends of children with ASD and features a strong message on inclusion and understanding of ASD.  Animations are also used to help explain the message as well as the use of some beautiful imagery.
Over 10,000 copies of this film have been distributed to every school across Australia including teaching materials to assist the school and the teachers as they educate their students.
You can also purchase you own copy of the DVD for $20 plus postage by clicking on the “What are you doing?” link.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Christmas Is Just Around The Corner

Christmas is now only about 6 weeks away - are you prepared?  Have you done all of your shopping?

To help you stock up with some gorgeous gifts for your family and friends we are offering lay-by which will make it a bit easier to shop and pay off in time for Christmas.

Plus we have a huge range of great gift ideas in our What’s New section that are worth looking at as you are likely to find some unique ideas.  A great example of this is the Rory’s Story Cubes that will really get the imagination going.  Story Cubes are made from nine dice that have a different icon on each side.  When you roll the cubes you can use the images to make up a story.

Also worth looking at is our On Sale section as we have a wide range of products that are for sale at a reduced price.  The Sound Machine can add some fun to any conversation as it has a range of sounds such as applause, canned laughter, drum roll, whistle and many other sounds.

If you are still not too sure what gifts to buy for your family or friends then consider purchasing a Gift Voucher.  In addition, if you prefer we can email the Gift Voucher directly to the person so they can start using it the moment they receive it.

Hopefully these suggestions are helpful and make it a bit easier to get your shopping done in time.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Savant Syndrome


Recently I came across a very informative article on savant syndrome that I thought was worth bringing to your attention.  The article is titled Savant Syndrome: An Extraordinary Condition – A Synopsis: Past, Present, Future.  It provides a thorough discussion on the savant syndrome and some key points have been summarised below.

Savant syndrome has a long history and some of the earliest reports go back to around the 1780’s when a fellow named Thomas Fuller was able to accurately state how many seconds a man had lived who was 70 years old, 17 days and 12 hours old.  He was able to provide the answer in 90 seconds even allowing for the 17 leaps years that were included.

In recent times the syndrome gained more prominence as a result of the film Rain Man in which Dustin Hoffman played a character with savant syndrome.  The savant syndrome condition is rare and it is estimated that one in ten autistic children show some savant skills although others believe this to be much lower such as maybe one or two in 200.  In addition, males outnumber females with the condition which is also reflected in some of the other autism spectrum disorders.

Of interest is that skills associated with the savant syndrome are usually in a very narrow range of skills.  They will often fall into the music, the artistic field, numbers or being able to memorise a lot of information or complex details.  With music it mainly relates to the ability to play the piano and with art it often relates to drawing, painting or sculpturing.  In relation to numbers, people with savant syndrome can calculate times, dates and days when events have occurred, whether it is in the past, the future or how long it may take.  Furthermore, the ability to calculate numbers at lightening speeds is another example as well as great accuracy with measuring distances.  Being able to memorise complex details such as in road maps, the contents of books or being able to accurately recall in extensive detail after only a brief look are other examples of skills associated with savant syndrome.

Research continues to take place on savant syndrome and more progress has been made in the last 15 years than in the previous 100 years.  As further studies and research continues it provides the opportunity to discover the reasons for these hidden abilities and to provide a better understanding as to why they occur that may open up other possibilities about human development and potential.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sensory Halloween Bags

With Halloween not too far away it is worth having a look at our Sensory Halloween Bags.  These bags have 12 sensory type toys that are great fun and are sure to provide hours of entertainment.  They come in either an orange or green bag that makes it easy to carry and are ideal when travelling or visiting family and friends.

The mix of sensory toys included in the Halloween Bags are suitable to squeeze, stretch, bend, turn, squash while also being fun to look at with all the great designs and colours.

These are a clever way to encourage your child to participate in the Halloween experience without overloading on the noise and strange costumes that might otherwise cause problems.

The set includes:
  • Orange or Green Halloween Bag (approx 36cm x 38cm - excluding handles)
  • Soft Spider Squish Ball or Puffer Spider Ball
  • Pumpkin SLIME
  • Wind Up Ghost or Pumpkin
  • Pumpkin Touch Bubbles or Test Tube Touch Bubbles
  • Wooden Spin Top
  • Bendy Skeleton Keyring (black or white)
  • Sticky Halloween Toy
  • Hand Clapper
  • Mouth Whistle
  • Spikey Ball Keyring
  • 2 "Happy Halloween" Balloons
These Sensory Halloween Bags are great value as they include $20 worth of goodies for only $14.95.  Ideal for age 3+ these are a great gift idea for Halloween and are sure to be popular.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Whatever Happened To Sleep

Sometimes children on the autism spectrum can have difficulty sleeping.  Every child is different – some can’t get to sleep, some can’t stay asleep and others can’t sleep at the normally accepted times of day and night.

Not every child is awake and yelling the house down.  Sometimes their sleep is restless; sometimes the child will toss and turn.  Sometimes it’s just hard to tell whether the sleep issue is associated with autism or just part of the night terrors that some children experience in their early years.
The problem affects everyone in the house, doesn’t it?  You feel like a zombie on autopilot most days.  This is what some parents have told me.
My child didn’t sleep through the night for years.  I couldn’t work out what was wrong and he couldn’t tell me.  Finally I realised that his time clock was running differently to ours.  His body told him to sleep in the afternoons and stay awake until the early morning hours.  I gradually shortened his nap time which was difficult – he wasn’t always cooperative - but the payoff was that he went to sleep at a reasonable hour.  Even today he is what people would call a night owl but he has learnt to match his sleep pattern with the need to go to school and so on.  It is hard at the time but it does eventually work out.”
I remember my brother driving me crazy at night.  His room was next to mine so we shared a common wall.  Every night for years and years I would hear the bed squeaking and creaking.  When I went in to see what was happening, there he was down on all fours on his bed, rocking himself backwards and forwards.  It seemed to be something he had to do before he could relax enough to sleep.  Now my son is doing exactly the same thing.”
Recent studies have suggested that melatonin supplements can solve some of the sleep problems.  It is possible that children on the autism spectrum are not able to produce enough melatonin in their bodies.  Melatonin is the hormone which regulates our sleep patterns. 

Other things that help are sticking to a regular night routine, making sure that your child has his special sleep toy or blanket with him and having quiet time for an hour before bed.
Does your child have sleep problems?  What tips can you share with other parents struggling with this issue?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Defining Moment

It is hard enough being a teenage girl even if you have all the social skills and social savvy needed to make you part of the ‘in crowd’.  Luckily for most girls they have a bestie that they can chat with and work out the complicated issues of the day.

When you are autistic you may not have the friends to chat with or even the ability to talk at all.  That makes the world a very frustrating place to inhabit.

Carly Fleischmann is a teenage girl who was diagnosed with severe autism and an oral motor condition that prevented her from speaking.

“Doctors predicted that she would never intellectually develop beyond the abilities of a small child.  Although she made some progress after years of intensive behavioural and communication therapy, Carly remained largely unreachable.  Then, at the age of ten, she had a breakthrough.

While working with her devoted therapists Howie and Barb, Carly reached over to their laptop and typed in "HELP TEETH HURT," much to everyone's astonishment.  This was the beginning of Carly's journey toward self-realization.”

The quote comes from the blurb on Carly’s book Breaking Through Autism.

The video is by Carly and it shows life from her perspective and it also shows how she has found and used an alternative form of communication – social media.

Who would have thought that social media would be the saviour of an autistic teenager?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What’s New In Store

With school holidays upon us, your children might be looking for things to keep them occupied.  Here are some great ideas that we have in our What’s New section.
The Mancala Wooden Game originated in Africa and is believed to be the oldest game in the world.  This game requires a combination of strategy and a sense of fun as you try to collect the bright colourful stones from your opponent. 
An ideal educational toy is the ShapeSorter Cube where you need to push the brightly coloured shapes through the holes.  Great fun as it combines coordination with shape and colour recognition.

The Near and Far – Safari is a fantastic educational game of size and perspective where you build 3D scenes.  Being a 3D game, it also teaches dimensional and spatial concepts as each scene is constructed.  Also, can be used as a special needs learning aid as well as for use with speech pathology exercises.   

The Pin Art – Coloured is loads of fun as you create 3D impressions by simply pushing an object into the pins.  Let the imagination run wild as your child creates unique sculptures from the impressions made by different objects. 

There are plenty of other great toys and gift ideas in the What’s New section that are great fun as well as educational.  Have a look and hopefully you can find something suitable.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

New - The Cuddle Loop

This is a great new product that we are pleased to have in stock.  Called the Cuddle Loop, this is a swaddle for children which will fit them up to around 8 years of age.

Designed by a therapist, Cuddle Loop provides a tight, snugly, swaddle effect for all kids, but is highly effective for kids with sensory processing challenges.

The swaddle is like wearing a hug all the time.  For children who are anxious or fidgety, the feeling of the warm arms around them can be very comforting.  The soft material gives just the right amount of touch pressure to create a feeling of security.  It is also really useful for children who need to share spaces, such as during mat time at school.  The Cuddle Loop can help protect your child’s sense of space so they don’t feel as though the other children are crowding them.
Each Cuddle Loop is made of a stretchable lycra material so it can be used in seated or lying positions.  It can be knotted and wrapped to meet a particular need or comfort just by placing a knot or fastener (not included) at any point to tighten it.
Loops fit children from 6 months to approximately 8 years of age (8.2kg-20.4kg).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Paralympics

The recently completed 2012 Paralympics not only provided a great spectacle for sport but resulted in a huge leap forward in the public understanding and a new awareness that people with disabilities can be elite athletes.  Furthermore, how the Australian athletes conducted themselves in interviews and how they dealt with their own expectations was also a great credit to them and maybe something our able bodied Olympians could learn from.   

Ryley Batt is a perfect example of this as he is only 23 years old yet this is his third Paralympics in Wheelchair Rugby.  As stated on his profile on the Australian Paralympic Committee website he is considered the “greatest wheelchair rugby player on the planet”.  As a pivotal member of the team he was also the highest goal scorer for the Wheelchair Rugby at the Paralympics.
He only started to use a wheelchair when he was 12 years old and shortly afterwards took up wheelchair rugby.  It was his dedication to succeed combined with his competitive spirit that resulted in him being selected for the Australian Paralympic Team as well as being the youngest ever wheelchair rugby player at 15 years old.

This picture taken from the website of the Paralympic Movement highlights the nature of wheelchair rugby and the extent of the contact that can occur.

While it was the athletes with the obvious disabilities who received most attention, there were athletes of all nationalities such as Mitchell Killduff and Michael Murray who have forms of autism, a disability which is not so obvious.  They should not be overlooked because their achievements are phenomenal.

The Australian Paralympic Committee also runs many programs to support people with disabilities to participate in sports and specifically runs a Paralympic Talent Search program.  Follow the link for more details as well as upcoming dates.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Planning A Party For Children On The Autism Spectrum.

Kate E Reynolds is a nurse, counsellor and trainer of health professionals.  She is also the mother of a son who was diagnosed with severe autism disorder.

She kept a diary of his progress in which she recorded her observations.  She also recorded the things she learnt along the way.  Kate believes in making life as normal as possible for the child and the family.  That means finding ways to help the child fit into the normal social lives of his or her peers.

As you know, one of the hardest things to manage is the party.  It is full of noise, activity, unusual foods and situations that are really hard for your child to interpret.  Kate has written a book called "Party Planning for Children and Teens on the Autism Spectrum" which you might find very useful.
She has also recorded a video in which she talks about parties and how to help your child prepare for and cope with the big event.  I think it is worth watching.  She shares some great tips and she has a very practical approach to life.

If you are planning a party for your child or anticipating an invitation to an event, this video will help you prepare.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Are parents placing too much hope on the iPad solution?

You know how much we love the apps that are becoming available on the iPad.  We have often shared our discoveries with you, knowing that the apps have been specifically designed to help children on the autism spectrum.

Recently some autism specialists and researchers have begun to think that we are placing too much hope in these apps.  They seem to think that we expect the apps to perform miracles for our children.  
Do you think that’s true?  I don’t agree.

Over at Autism Plugged In one writer said, "Technology isn't ‘an answer’ but it can sure help and sometimes in quite life changing ways."
He goes on to say, "The special needs Apps on iTunes and Android are interesting, fun, helpful and are usually developed by highly qualified professionals in relevant areas, but they are only ever going to be another tool to add to your kit bag.  It may even be that the App itself does nothing more than provide you with 10 minutes peace, but that in itself is invaluable."
Isn’t that more in line with the way you view your child’s use of the iPad and apps?

I love seeing results like those you’ll see in the video below.  I love seeing a child find the right tool for his needs.  I love the fact that a simple app holds so much promise.  But I don’t believe they are a "cure" for autism.
As parents of children on the spectrum we will always be looking for tools to make our children’s lives easier but we understand that they are only tools.

What is your opinion?  Do you see the iPad as a cure?


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What’s New


We have some great new products that have recently arrived that are sure to please kids of all ages.  Here are some examples from our What’s New section:

·         Fincredibles Goldfish:  These electronic goldfish are great fun and will undoubtedly bring lots of joy to your child.  You can interact with the goldfish by tapping on the lid and they can change colours for night swims.  Suited for ages 3+, this is priced at $44.

·         Chat Back Cat:  This soft, cute and cuddly cat can repeat the words that you say; also available are a Chat Back Dog and Chat Back Monkey.  Ideal for kids of all ages and priced at $29.95, these have been very popular already.

·         Fishing Magnetic Game:  This brightly coloured game comes with two magnetic fishing rods to catch the fish and shells.  This game is fantastic for developing hand eye coordination and motor skills.  Suited for ages 3+, this is great value at just $7.

·         World Globe Foam Ball:  This world globe combines both fun and learning as it is made from bouncy squeezy foam that is firm enough to assist with strengthening the hands. The different countries and regions are shown in bright colours that make it easy to identify.  Suited for ages 3+, this is priced at $1.80.

·         Wooden Rainmaker:  This gorgeous wooden rainmaker makes the gentle sound of rain falling as the tower is turned upside down.  The sound of the rain comes from bright coloured balls rattling against the wood as they cascade down and around the tower.  Ideal for kids aged 18 months +, this is priced at $29.95. 
For a whole range of other toys follow the link to the What’s New section as these toys are sure to bring a lot of fun and help with your child’s development and learning.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fussy Eaters And Autism

There’s nothing more annoying than spending time in the kitchen, whipping up a meal, only to have it refused, point blank.  It’s even more frustrating when the child in question hasn’t even bothered giving the food a taste.  They just flat out refuse.

You worry that they’re not eating enough, or enough of the right things.  Besides, it just makes you feel unappreciated, what with the effort you’ve just put in making the meal.

It’s hard not to take it personally, but you can’t, especially when it comes to children with autism.

One of the key characteristics with children with an autism spectrum disorder are the sensory issues, whether this be hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity. Children will need extra sensory stimulation; increased pressure, large movements, or, at the other end, their senses can be heightened.

Therefore, noises can seem too loud, clothing can feel uncomfortable against the skin, tags on shirts can irritate...and food can be an issue.

Food consumption is influenced by the look, smell, taste and feel of the overall meal, and even individual ingredients.

For children with autism, they can be genuinely repelled by certain foods.  Perhaps the smell is too strong for them, or the taste too distinctive or overwhelming. They may even like the taste of the food, but find the feel of it in their mouth disturbing or off-putting.

Some children prefer the crunchy feel of uncooked vegetables, such as carrots, as they provide a greater sensory experience, and the texture of cooked carrots is “too mushy”, for example.

In determining if your child is a “fussy eater”, first and foremost, remember it’s not personal, it is a genuine aversion to certain foods, or food combinations.  Work out what the sensory issue is and it makes life – and meals – much easier to work around.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Advice From Dr Temple Grandin

Dr Temple Grandin recently published an article in Take Part which gave her views on the education of children on the autism spectrum.  I love what she has to say and I encourage you to read it.  I have included an extract here, but you really need to read the whole article.

Her stance - stay positive.

“Special educators need to look at what a child can do instead of what he/she cannot do.
There needs to be more emphasis on building up and expanding the skills a child is good at.  Too often people get locked into a label such as dyslexia, ADHD, or autism, and they cannot see beyond the label.  Kids that get a label often have uneven skills.  They may be talented in one area and have a real deficiency in another.”
She goes on to say “Kids with autism often get fixated on one thing, and it is important to expand their fixations.  If the child loves race cars, then race cars can be used as subject matter for reading and math. If the child only draws pictures of NASCAR race cars, a teacher could start expanding the fixation by having him draw an Indianapolis-type car or draw sports cars that regular people can buy at car dealerships.  The next step of expansion is to draw pictures of places where race tracks are located.”
Her advice is so very logical that it makes me wonder why the education system doesn’t follow it.

Read the rest of the article.  It is practical, sound and full of clear advice.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Great Articles To Read

On a regular basis on the Toy Bug Facebook page we include links to great articles that we have found and which are well worth reading.  These are some very useful resources and provide clear insights and ideas so we decided to list some of them here so you can easily find them again.
Here are a few of the recent ones:

·       This link by Dr. Tony Attwood explains the difference between Aspergers and High Functioning Autism.  

·       This details a great recipe for Gluten-free Cloud Dough. 

·       This article relates to research that showed that focusing on the strengths of adolescents with autism spectrum disorders improves their social skills. 

·       This article is great idea for when your child is bored and looking for something to do.  

·       This link includes a set of slides that provides some great information and well explained examples to assist people to accept their diagnosis.    

·       This article titled Eight Fun Oral Sensory Activities to Improve Your Child’s Regulation provides activities for your child and as detailed in the article when you need a “quick fix”.

·       This article discusses a simple, inexpensive yet very effective way to make some sensory and discovery bottles for your child. 

·       This is an article on pillow caves and squish boxes that make ideal sensory retreats. 

These are just some of the resources on the Toy Bug Facebook page so when you get the chance, grab a coffee and spend a bit of time having a look. I know you will find some useful information.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Seams Away

Do you have to suffer through the dressing dramas every morning (or night)? Your child refuses to wear a piece of clothing because it itches or it won’t sit in the right spot or because it rubs. Nothing you can do will make your child wear that item of clothing, will it? That’s fair enough. Would you wear something that felt really uncomfortable?

Seams Away is an online store specialising in clothing for children with sensory issues.

This is from their website:

“More than 1 in 150 children have sensory needs that are largely unmet by the children's apparel market today. Soft clothing changes that. Soft is the first inclusive and universally designed line of clothing geared toward children with sensory or tactile sensitivity, a common symptom of Autism, Aspergers, and Sensory Processing Disorder. Soft is designed and constructed considering the needs of all children, particularly, sensory sensitive dressers.

Soft provides comfort and style for all children. Soft clothing features:
• Flat seaming and totally seamless construction throughout (for extra comfort)
• Soft, high quality cotton (combed, bio-washed and pre-washed for extra softness and smoothness)
• Wide collars (for a roomy fit)
• Encased elastic (waistbands that don't pinch)
• Printed labels throughout - printed with water based ink (for a smooth non-plasticy feel that won't itch)
• Vegetable dyes, natural enzyme washes and water based digital prints (to protect against allergies).”

The range is really good and includes everything from socks to coats. It also has a book called "I'll Tell You Why...I Can't Wear Those Clothes!" which helps to explain the reasons behind your child’s reactions.

This is a specialist store and I’m certain the products will be in big demand.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Toys On Sale

Have you been to check out our On Sale category on the website lately? We have added a whole lot of new items and prices start from less than $2.00!

What are our favourites?

1. The Rabbit Skipping Rope: This rope is really fun, with a carrot on one handle and a cute white rabbit on the other. The handles are perfectly sized for a child’s grip. If you love this idea, you will also love the Carrot Skipping Rope which has carrots for both handles.

2. Sound Machine: Don’t tell anyone but I like this one a lot. The little box contains all sorts of sounds such as applause, shotgun, breaking glass and a drum roll. Do you remember the episode of The Big Bang Theory where Rajesh used a sound machine to punctuate his conversation? This works the same way. It’s a lot easier for your child to become used to noises when he or she can control them.

3. World Safari Game: Have an adventure in your lounge room with this clever board game. And introduce your children to continents, countries, capital cities and oceans in this uncomplicated, yet fascinating game.

4. Garden Set In A Carry Case: Just in time for spring! Let your child learn about nature by pottering in the garden with his or her very own tools.

5. Pet Fashion In The Tub: Your child will be more inclined to hop into the tub when there are friends in there waiting to play. This set contains 2 foam friends, a poodle and kitty, and 32 outfits and accessories. That’s a lot of style to fit into one bathtub!

That’s only 5 items but there are many more and the prices are excellent. Buy some to put into your secret toy trove or put them away for Christmas and birthdays. You never know when you’ll need a toy or game.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Just For Today

I loved this poem when I saw it.  I love that it celebrates a child as he or she should be celebrated.  It doesn't matter what label they stick on your child.  He or she is still a child who loves the world in their own childish way.  They can still open the door to magic for you.  Always remember that.

Just For Today

Just for today, little one,
I'm going to forget that you're autistic
And remember that you're a child.
For this brief shining time,
I will only see the beauty of you and your world.

I will marvel at the spun gold of your hair in the sunlight.
How can anything be so impossibly brilliant?
I will see the blue-green of your infinite eyes
And not worry if they focus on me.
I will admire your concentration
And not mind that it isn't directed in the usual way.

Your smile and laugh will bring me joy.
It won't matter what caused them,
they are marvels unto themselves.
Through your eyes I will delve into the unseen,
Looking at the world with that perspective unique to you.

I will see your lines of leaves and stones
And share your happiness at their precision.
I will close my own eyes
And let the textures you explore overwhelm my senses.
Spinning in circles with you,
I will let go until all is lost but the dizzy.

Just for today,
I will close my books and ignore the research,
the worry, the 'shoulds' and the shadowy future.
You are my baby, my son, my love.
Today, we play.

Written by Delia Thompson

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Putting Together A Sensory Box

The next time you give a gift consider the idea of the sensory box.  This can be suitable for any child and combines a range of different toys that relate to the different senses.

Consider the Flashing Spinning Top that comes with bright coloured lights that change patterns when spinning.  Even the Flashing Squishy Pig is fun as it has interesting textures to touch and feel, it lights up when squeezed and makes a great fidget toy.

The Rainmaker makes a gentle sound as the coloured beads cascade down the different layers and also links movement with sound and allows the little ones the opportunity to explore the different rhythms.  The Musical Triangle is another great idea that allows the development of rhythms as well as coordination.  

The Zebra Teething Bling is a safe alternate comforter for teething babies or children requiring oral input.  In addition, the Fruit Bubbles are ideal for identifying smells, as they come in different scents.  The watermelon, strawberry and grape flavous can be smelt when the bubbles pop.

The Hopper Ball is perfect for developing coordinatin and balance as well as being a great exercise that can help to strengthen leg muscles.  The Scrunch Ball will also help to develop coordination as it is very squishy, and even huggable which makes it very catchable plus also light and safe for indoor play.

These are just some examples of the type of toys you can use to build a sensory box but there are so many more options.  Have a look through the Sensory Toys section to get more creative ideas for your sensory box. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Taking Sensory Development Outside

Going outdoors can be a great adventure for anyone of any age as there is so much to do and to get involved with. For children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) there can be some significant benefits because it can aid with sensory development as they can examine, interact and explore with the environment.

Going for a walk through a local park or even bushland and being able to smell the difference fragrances from flowers and plants, holding branches or leaves and feeling the different textures is a great experience plus an ideal form of cardiovascular exercise.

Kicking a soccer or football, throwing and catching a tennis ball or passing a rugby ball are all perfect ways to help develop coordination. Often if your child is undertaking any form of occupational therapy many of these activities can assist with the program.

Some parks also have animals that can be fed such as ducks or even fish if there is a lake. Even down at the beach you are sure to encounter seagulls that will be hungry and this can be a great way to interact with wildlife. If at the beach, the added benefit is the interaction with the salt water, the sand as well as being out in the sun. Being able to build sand castles is also a great activity and allows the imagination to be applied as they construct their creation.

Always be conscious of the abilities of your child and adjust the activity accordingly. Also, as they may be easily distracted or just curious, they may find dangerous situations in the most placid of places so of course you need to keep your eye on them all the time. In some cases and depending on your child, you may even be able to use these circumstances to teach and raise their awareness of dangerous and safety issues when outdoors.

The outdoors is a fun place to be and it is full of textural and sensory things to explore.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Explaining Autism

One of the hardest things to do is to try to explain to others what the life of an autistic child can be like. Many people have no idea of what the child goes through on a daily basis.

We found this clip on YouTube which is a great introduction to the world of an autistic child for those who know nothing. It was prepared as a ‘tips for teachers’ clip to help them manage children with autism in their classrooms.

I don’t think this needs any explanation or introduction. This video is what you send to people when they “just don’t get it”.

We hope this clip helps smooth the pathway a little for you and your child.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Construction Toys

We have a great range of construction toys that have been specifically sourced and selected as they are ideal for hand eye coordination as well as igniting the creative spirit in your child. These toys can also be educational as your child needs to follow steps to put the pieces together as they construct the actual toy. We have a huge range to choose from:

Wooden Rainbow Stacker: Use the 8 brightly coloured rings to build a rainbow pattern tower. Helps with coordination and motor skills while learning about different colour combinations.

Educational Learning Blocks: Comes with 48 different blocks made up of coloured textured letters and numbers. Great for learning to spell words or counting numbers but also perfect for building a tower and knocking it over so it can be rebuilt. It also comes in a sturdy wooden box making it easy to store all the pieces.

Classic Baby Beads: This toy comes with wooden beads that are held together with elastic cords. This makes it easy to change into an endless number of shapes and as the beads come in a range of bright colours they can form some imaginative patterns.

Domino Rally Game: This game is made up of 247 coloured blocks that can be formed into domino structures. This is perfect to apply imagination as the domino structure can be made into different patterns, directions and of different lengths. Great for motor skills, contraction and patience as the challenge can be to see how many of the dominos can be used without them falling over.

Ninja Stacking Dolls: This set of 5 Ninja Russian Stacking Dolls can be set up from largest to smallest or any other combination for a great looking display or they can also be put inside one another.

We have a whole lot of other construction toys so check out our link to see our huge range.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What’s New

We have some great new products that have recently arrived that are sure to please kids of all ages. Here are some examples from our What’s New section:

Fincredibles Goldfish: These electronic goldfish are great fun and sure to bring lots of joy to your child. Suitable for ages 3 and above, you can interact with the goldfish by tapping on the lid and they can change colours for night swims.

Chat Back Cat: This soft, cute and cuddly cat can repeat the words that you say. Also available are a Chat Back Dog and Chat Back Monkey that are sure to entertain for hours. Ideal for kids of all ages and priced at $29.95, these are sure to be popular.

Fishing Magnetic Game: This brightly coloured game comes with two magnetic fishing rods to catch the fish and shells. Fantastic for developing hand eye coordination and motor skills, it is suitable for children aged 3 and above.

World Globe Foam Ball: This world globe combines both fun and learning as it is made from bouncy squeezy foam that is firm enough to assist with strengthening the hands. The different countries and regions are shown in bright colours that make it easy to identify.

• Wooden Rainmaker: This gorgeous wooden rainmaker makes the gentle sound of rain falling as the tower is turned upside down. The sound of the rain comes from bright coloured balls rattling against the wood as they cascade down and around the tower. The rainmaker is ideal for kids aged 18 months and over.

For a whole range of other toys follow the link to the What’s New section as these toys are sure to bring a lot of fun and help with your child’s development and learning.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Diet And Autism

There are numerous interventions parents can undertake with a child who has autism and diet is one area that is particularly important. There is anecdotal evidence from parents that certain diets have resulted in improvement with people with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Scientific research is not as definitive as some reviews and reports support this notion while others don’t.

There is some great information in the article titled Diet and autistic spectrum disorder and we’ve extracted some suggestions here for you.

• Gluten free and casein free: Gluten is a protein contained in many types of breads, pastas, biscuits and breakfast cereals. Casein is a protein in cow’s milk that is contained in cheese, butter, ice cream, yogurt and milk chocolate biscuits. It is suggested that people with ASD have an abnormally leaky gut that creates an intolerance to these proteins which affects mental function and behaviour.

• Food additives: People with ASD are intolerant to many food additives such as colourings, flavour enhancers, artificial sweeteners and preservatives as they can affect their behaviour.

• Phenolic compounds and salicylates: The suggestion is that foods such as cheese, tomatoes, oranges, bananas and chocolate contain enzymes that some people lack that are needed to break down the compounds in these foods and as a result affect the symptoms of people with ASD.

• Yeast free: Eating less foods such as natural and refined sugars, breads, vinegar, cheese, soy sauce, alcohol, coffee and processed meats reduces the growth of yeasts in the gut and avoids the leaky gut scenario that is similar with the gluten free and casein free diets.

Again, as noted at the start, the scientific research is not definitive on this issue and importantly working with your doctor or a dietician from a community health service can provide more information and support in this important area.
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