Friday, November 29, 2013

Domino Fun

Dominoes are great fun for both kids and adults, and have been around since the 18th century where they first appeared in Italy.

Whether you prefer the more traditional game of dominoes or are more into the domino show, where you stand them up and then topple them, then make sure you browse our store.

Currently in stock is our Texture Dominoes which feature seven different tactile surfaces.  This colourful game will help to develop your child's sensory awareness, colour recognition and fine motor skills.  Similarly our Animal Dominoes allows you to match both animals and colours.

Extremely popular is our Domino Rally Game (get in quick as it is almost sold out!) which contains a massive 247 blocks.  It is a great educational toy for developing logical thought processing, concentration and patience.  And it is great fun too!  Can you really get all pieces in place without them falling over?  Go on, give it a try?

Our Penguin Dominoes are cute and funky to boot!  Knock the penguins over with a ball or a swinging beam.  Arrange them to go upstairs, downstairs or any way you want and then knock them over.  This one is great for the little ones, as is the Hammer Ball Game.  Little ones will love pounding the colourful wooden balls through the holes and watching and listening as the balls roll down the bars.

Dominoes make a great change from all the electronic toys and gadgets which are popular with the kids these days and allow the family to bond and play together.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Entering Puberty

Puberty can be hard. Some families breeze through, but this is rarely the case when the dynamic includes a diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum and the child may not have the developmental maturity matching the physical changes they are experiencing.

Parents of kids with ASD know better than anyone that the strategies to deal with any change, including puberty, need to be individual and flexible and very much depend on the level of skill in communication and cognition.

Respond to questions and a growing awareness of any physical differences in an age appropriate way, as you would any other child, and prepare them by discussing the changes in a ‘grown up body’.  For example if they notice a man with a beard or underarm hair, or a woman with ‘bumps on her chest’, use these as an opportunity to open the discussion around how we change and grow as we get older.

When appropriate, use the commonly used terms, for example ‘bumps’ might become breasts, and you can introduce the concept of puberty, particularly for kids of upper primary school age who might  already be noticing changes in their friends and classmates.

You know your child best, therefore you will need to make a judgement about whether advance discussion will increase or decrease anxiety around the changes - although do bear in mind the approximate age range for the commencement of puberty in order to help reduce uncertainty.  Girls, on average enter puberty around 11, with some starting as early as 8, and boys begin at around 12-13 years of age although as young as 91/2 is possible. Early onset puberty is an added challenge for any family but even more so if the child’s developmental age is not that of their peers.

As uncomfortable as discussions around puberty can be for any parent, in the case of children with ASD, it is essential the subject is addressed no later than the actual onset of the changes. For girls, it is when their breast buds begin to develop and for boys, it might be when they begin their growth spurt and appear to be all ‘arms and legs’.  Delaying the discussion any further may cause the child to think they are ill and add even more confusion and fear.

If your child is extremely literal, it’s important to highlight the changes that happen to girls but not boys, and to what extent.  It would be terrifying for a boy to think he would grow breasts for example.

A social story may well be the best way to demonstrate the changes puberty brings, and a personalised story for each of the changes can be the best way to address the different aspects growing into adulthood brings.

Autism Victoria has a fantastic fact sheet with strategies and resources and the following suggested list of topics for a social story.  Not all may be necessary depending on the way your child copes and changes, however this is a great resource for preparing your family and the child for what may be challenging times.

  • Breast development and widening of the hips (could be titled 'the shape of my body will change')
  • Pubic and underarm hair development (title 'extra hair will grow')
  • Onset of menstruation (title 'I will begin to have my period')
  • Growth acceleration (title 'I will get taller')

  • Growth acceleration (title 'I will get taller')
  • Pubic, underarm, and facial hair development (title 'extra hair will grow')
  • Testicular and penile enlargement (title 'my body will look different')
  • Spontaneous erections, sperm production, wet dreams (title 'body will do new things', or use simplified versions of these terms as titles)
  • Voice deepening (title 'my voice will sound different')

The issues around puberty are many and varied, not limited to physical changes as discussed here but also personality and emotions, awareness of the opposite sex and sexuality, hygiene and expectations from others as you ‘grow up’.

No parent or caregiver can predict how any person will respond to puberty, whether they have an ASD diagnosis or not.  Some kids may in fact breeze through some of the changes whilst struggling with areas you would not have expected.  Prior preparation and information will ease the anxiety for all, particularly the family or carer. Your local Autism support networks and information services will have resources and recommended reading available should you need extra assistance.

You can’t hold back the clock or prevent your child growing up, as much as you may like to, so it’s best you are as prepared as you can be.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What Goodies Have Just Arrived?

As you know there is always something new arriving here at The Toy Bug. Take a look at some of the new arrivals which are here in time for Christmas. They make great stocking fillers, too.

This is colourful and fun.  Made of wood, it’s strong enough to take a good workout! This noughts and crosses games is great for teaching turn taking, logical thinking and fine motor skills. It comes with 5 red ladybug and 5 yellow bee game pieces and one wooden leaf board.

The leaf is divided into the nine boxes needed to play a game of noughts and crosses.

This game is such fun to play. It helps little ones with their hand eye coordination by providing objects for your child to pick up using the fishing rods.

The set is magnetic, so catching your fish is not too hard once you get the hang of the game. Why not see who can catch the most fish?

This set is easily stored as the fish pond comes in four easy to assemble pieces that can be disassembled at any time.

Not all games take place in the playroom…

Scrubby Ducky is a little silicone rubber yellow duck who just loves to paddle in the bath. He has soft yellow bristles underneath and is never happier than when he is brushing your skin clean. Ducky floats in the bath and he is easy for small hands to pick up and hold. 

Keep watching our What’s New section because new items arrive regularly.  There are only a few weeks left until Christmas so start your shopping now.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Movement And Motion For Children With Autism

Recent research in the US has confirmed what many parents have observed for years, that motion, cause and effect, repetitive and movement type toys and games are often preferred by children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

When we think of sensory feedback in a ‘neurotypical’ world, the senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing are what spring to mind.  When it comes to children with autism spectrum disorder however, we need to consider the lesser known senses, the vestibular sense that helps us keep our balance and know where we are in space, and proprioception which has to do with the way our joints respond to movement and pressure.  This explains why adults and children with ASD as well as those without, enjoy such things as deep tissue massage and can be calmed by weighted blankets and the application of pressure.

Games and activities that offer a broad range of sensory feedback were preferred over all other types of play in the hands-on, museum based study, imaginative play being the least attractive to children with ASD.

Children with ASD often find repetition and sensory feedback soothing, and if they themselves cannot be moving, they enjoy watching moving objects.  Encouraging these kinds of activities in play, and by introducing toys that play to these strengths can encourage development and interaction as well as being a source of comfort.

Active play toys such as the See Saw and the Ball Chair are great for kids with energy to burn, who respond well to physical stimulation.  These toys provide different levels of feedback via sound, repetition and movement.

More passive children who prefer less active stimulation, or need some downtime, might enjoy the LED Mini Fan, which not only gives visual feedback via the lights and movement but also the feeling of air and cooling.  The Soothing Liquid Timer is a visual and calming toy that also provides a feeling of time and movement and time for self regulating emotions or actions for a child needing boundaries.

The Expandable Ball is a tactile toy that feeds the need for repetition and movement. It is a portable toy which does not require batteries or lots of space, and is a good option for a child’s bag.

One size never fits all in sensory play but at The Toy Bug we pride ourselves on researching and sourcing new products to help children with their development through play, visual stimulation, motion and movement.
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