Monday, March 31, 2014

World Autism Day 2014

World Autism Day is Wednesday 2nd April 2014. Each year it is recognised with events around the country.

One of the biggest events is Light It Up Blue.

"Light It Up Blue" is a global campaign that sees thousands of iconic landmarks, cities and towns around the world turn blue on April 2 to recognise World Autism Awareness Day. The campaign highlights the pressing need for greater public education and awareness of autism in our community.

Each state is celebrating the day by lighting their most celebrated monuments with blue light.

If you’re in Sydney, head to the Harbour to see what this year’s blue surprise will be.  In other states, your capital city will light up your buildings blue on the night of April 2nd, too. If you are in regional areas, check with your local council or health centre to see what is happening locally.

In Melbourne this year, World Autism Day will also be celebrated on Saturday 6th April at Luna Park where families will be given private access to the funfair between 9 and 11am.

The park promises:
  • Reduced sound
  • Reduced lighting effects
  • Understanding staff
  • Quiet area available
  • Ability to stop rides if needed
  • Closed to the public
We think this is a great idea and would love to see the concept spread around the country.

It is not too late to hold your own Light It Up Blue event but you need to register quickly. Light your home or office up blue, or wear blue clothes to work.

If you’d like to make a donation to show your support please click here to go to the donation site.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Easter Toy Ideas

Easter is approaching and your kids probably think they’re in with a good chance of a week-long diet consisting of chocolate and hot cross buns and not much else.

It’s terribly easy to purchase more chocolate than intended, particularly if you inadvertently get caught up in the idea of Easter Egg hunts and the giving of Easter themed chocolates as gifts.

Rather than the gift of chocolate, and the likelihood of the overeating of chocolate, there are plenty of other ideas for kids that are much healthier, rely on the use of their imagination and creativity or are just fun to play with for months after all the chocolate is consumed.

Packs of crayons, pencils or textas and Easter themed colouring books featuring rabbits, lambs and chicks are great for creative kids.

If they’re more into craft and love doing things with their hands, then do-it-yourself kits to make rabbits and chicks is a great alternative to the all the confectionary available. Whether this involves cutting and pasting, sewing or fine motor work with beads and threads is up to you.

An Easter hat craft kit is a perfect gift for crafty kids. They can even put on a fashion parade for you afterwards.

Stuffed toys, particularly those with highly textured fur or that feature a variety of textures over its surface are great, and can often make a long term beloved toy for your child, providing them with something that helps them to feel calm and safe.

Smaller items, which could readily replace an Easter Egg Hunt are small, egg shaped music shakers, which fit neatly in the palm of a child’s hand, make a great sound when shaken and still work with the Easter theme.

Play things such as the Sylvanian Families characters and play sets are great for fine motor play, imagination and creating stories, and feature many of the creatures we associate with Easter.

Toys make Easter last longer than a long weekend, and provide experiences and memories for years. They’re a healthier alternative to chocolate on many levels, and a good option to include, as it’s always far too easy to overindulge in the chocolate, even if you don’t intend to.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

On Sale!

Who doesn’t love sales? We certainly do!

We have a huge range of goodies on sale now so take a look at them… while they are still in stock!

Carrot Skipping Rope - An ordinary rope, you would say…but no, it is not! Unlike many other ropes, this one has convenient handles, shaped in the form of a carrot and a bunny. Each handle is 7cm x 4cm, designed to be convenient for little hands. This skipping rope is 1.8m long, which is a great size and we can say without doubt that your child will love it!

Little Hands Card Holder - This great and certainly innovative item will make card games fun again! If your little partner struggled to hold their cards in fan shape with one hand, they can be sure that the Little Hands Card Holder will solve this problem. No more card dropping and ruined games!

What I Wish I Knew Before I Became A Mother - Sisters Peace Mitchell and Katy Garner undertook this writing project in order to prepare other women for this wonderful but a bit scary period of their life. The book deals with all the major topics related to pregnancy, birth and the period after it, and can be considered an invaluable preparation for the big event.

Party Hop Potato Sack Game - Some games never grow old! One of them is the Party Hop Potato Sack Game. You must remember it from the times when you were a child – when playing outdoors was something much more preferable than sitting in front of the TV. Now you can change your kids’ thinking with the help of this Party Hop Potato Sack Game, which consists of 6 woollen hopping sacks that will give much joy to your kids and will turn the family picnic in a fun Hop Potato Race.

Deluxe Pound A Peg - This great game is exactly what your toddler needs in order to properly develop their motor and colour recognition skills. The happy smiling pegs in different colours go up and down and the player will have to pound them with the sturdy mallet included in the set. A great tool to keep your toddler engaged in something that will not only give them pleasure, but will also develop their skills!

You will be glad you had a chance to browse the current range of gifts on sale and you will probably find that many of them will bring back memories of your own childhood.  Items like potato sack races, skipping ropes and pound a peg toys never go out of style.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sensory Play Ideas

We all know the benefits of sensory play for processing and stimulation as well as both fine and gross motor development and skills. However, coming up with fun new ways to keep stimulating your little one’s senses can be overwhelming and tricky.

Sand play is always fabulous, and you can vary this up by using other items, like rice, for example.

As a great bedtime and relaxation play idea, try Lavender Rice which provides stimulation for little fingers, as well as colour and a calming aroma that also aids in relaxation and sleep.

·         Place 2 cups of uncooked rice in a plastic bag or large mixing bowl

·         In a small bowl, mix a few drops of red and blue food colouring to create purple

·         Pour the colouring into the rice

·         Add a few drops of lavender essential oil or lavender flowers

·         Mix ingredients well

·         Spread rice across a shallow baking dish and leave overnight to dry

Play dough is another great tool, and aside from making your own, there are variations of this product that provide different textures and strengths for varied stimulation.

Ice Cream Dough

·         ½ cup of cheap hair conditioner

·         1½ cups of cornflour

·         Mix well

·         Optional: divide up and add a drop or two of food colouring to each portion for a variety of colours

Mud Dough

·         In a mixing bowl or sensory play tray, add 1 cup water and 1 cup of vegetable oil

·         Add dry dirt and mix well. It’s a good idea to add a bit at a time and mix well to determine if you need more

·         If needed, add a little corn flour to remove moisture

Rainbow sensory balloons are another great idea, and fun for the kids (and maybe a bit of stress relief for you!).

·         Grab a rainbow coloured selection of water balloons and an equal number of tubs of play dough

·         Roll the play dough out and feed into the balloon (1 tub for each balloon)

·         Once full, roll or squish the balloon to remove all air bubbles

·         Tie the balloon and draw faces on each, varying the expressions, with a permanent marker

You can also fill small balloons with a variety of items, like sand, instant coffee, flour, rice and marbles to provide a range of stimulation for little hands and fingers.

Kids love this kind of sensory play especially when they see mum or dad getting involved in the fun as well.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Are Our Children's Toys Contributing To A Rise In Disorders Along the Autism Spectrum?

As parents and caregivers of children with ADHD, or disorders along the autism spectrum, we know that our children can be much more sensitive to their surroundings than many of their peers. So, we take steps to help our kids cope with the added stress that too much stimuli from their environment can bring. But, I wonder how many of us have ever stopped for a moment to consider the possibility that it might be the actual common, everyday items in our environment that have contributed to rise in the diagnosis of these disorders

A recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald discusses the results of a review of recent research in The Lancet Neurology. The article states that studies show that many common, everyday items, like our clothing, dinnerware and even our children's toys may be filled with hazardous chemicals that can directly and indirectly cause neurodevelopment disorders such as dyslexia, ADHD and autism spectrum disorders.

Currently, the list of chemicals that are known to cause such conditions has doubled in the past few years from six to 12. Some of these chemicals are already either banned or strictly regulated in Australia, such as DDT and lead. Others such as industrial solvents, or the methyl mercury that are found in fish, are not as tightly regulated. Scientists can't even agree on which chemicals are to blame, as some say that the fluoride that is found in treated water could be one of the culprits.
Perhaps the most frightening fact to come out of the article is the fact that most chemicals haven't been tested at all to see if they might affect the development of children or unborn babies. According to the article, over 80,000 chemicals that are used in industrial settings in the United States have never been tested for their effects on the neurodevelopment of children and unborn babies. Australian authorities are just now working on prioritising the risk of over 38,000 chemicals that may contaminate the environment or leech out of manufactured products and contribute to these disorders.
While scientists continue their research and conduct more studies, it is hard to know what one can do to keep their children safe.  As a parent, it's chilling to realise that if this article is correct, science and industry can't really say if these chemicals and the products that are made with them are truly safe for our children.
Going forward, I will continue to look for ways in our daily life to minimise our contact with chemicals.
After reading the article, what steps do you plan to take to minimise your family's contact with these potentially dangerous substances?
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