Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ear Muffs Protect Sensitive Ears

Children with noise sensitivity can even find regular daily situations most distressing, which in turn can make planning around their sensitivity quite difficult for parents and carers.

Obviously the easiest way to cut down their noise exposure is to be able to provide some form of noise block, but ear plugs are not safe to use, especially with babies, and until recently it could be hard to find a set of ear muffs that were really suitable for smaller children.

Now Edz Kidz have developed a wonderful range of ear muffs that have been specially designed for children and are suitable for babies from six months and can fit children up to the age of 10 years.

These ear muffs have a soft padded headband for extra comfort and come in a selection of bold colours including blue, yellow, pink and red.

They fold down to nearly half their size for easy carrying and storage and are light and durable, weighing only 190 grams.

Perfect for protecting any child’s hearing in particularly loud environments such as car racing, concerts or fireworks, these ear muffs conform to Hearing Protector Standard EN352-1 and are CE marked to comply with European Health Regulations for your peace of mind.

Edz Kidz ear muffs will help any child with noise sensitivity issues to feel more comfortable and calm in any noisy situation, allowing them to open to other positive experiences that are presented to them.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Free Colouring Book by Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin is an amazingly talented person. She has a real gift with animals and seems to be able to get in touch with how they think and feel.

Temple Grandin thinks in pictures and was diagnosed with Autism well before there was much understanding about what that really meant.

Through her own courage and the understanding of those around her she has become a leading animal specialist and an international spokeswoman for Autism.

To help celebrate a new movie starring Claire Daines that tells the story of the life of Temple Grandin so far, Barnes and Noble, HBO and Project Onward are offering a free downloadable colouring book that tells her story – in pictures.

This is a charming book that has been written by Mary Carpenter and illustrated by autistic artists from the Project Onward initiative.

The story serves to educate children about what it can be like to live with autism, and helps children with autism to know that they are not alone and there are others who understand what it’s like to be autistic.

The illustrations are individually signed by the artists and are clear line drawings, perfect for colouring.

Great for use as an educational tool, at home and in schools, this book offers a lovely insight into autism.

Download a free copy from Barnes and Noble for someone you know who loves to colour in.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Meeting Santa

Many families take their annual visit to Santa at their local shopping centre for granted, but for children with sensitivities such as those associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) it can be a situation best avoided.

Sometimes preparing your child before the event, explaining what they can expect to experience and reassuring them about any concerns that they may have will help them to enjoy the experience more. After all, he is an odd looking man in odd looking clothes who makes odd sounding ho ho noises. He's not someone that you see every day, is he?

Sometimes, though, their sensitivities make the whole event really distressing.

Occasionally someone has a good idea. A shopping mall in Montgomery County, Miami, USA, has its third annual “Sensitive Santa” event planned for this December.

It is a special event designed for children with high sensitivity, with lower lighting and quieter surroundings. Everything is designed to keep things calm and peaceful and non-threatening to sensitive people.

When children with ASD meet Santa in a comfortable setting where they feel safe to interact with him, it becomes a wonderful and magical experience that leaves a very positive impression.

Your local Autism Association should be able to tell you of any similar events being hosted in your area. If there aren’t any, then it would be well worth approaching the management of your local shopping mall to see if they would consider hosting a similar event. It only has to be one time frame on a set day and with adequate promotion it would be a profitable undertaking for them.

Often children with ASD miss out on magical experiences like meeting with Santa for the first time but with greater public awareness and the right settings, they can share in these simple joys too.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Egg Shape Sorter

Children have a natural fascination with food and toys associated with food easily become a favourite choice. Eggs are particularly interesting because of their unique shape which encourages touch and feel.

The Egg Shape Sorter combines bright colours and a variety of shapes, including circle, square, rectangle, triangle, star and diamond to make a fun and educational toy for young children.

Each egg opens to reveal a colourful shape that can’t be seen when the halves of the egg are put together again. Different shapes won’t fit together properly, and the different colours provide additional clues for matching the correct halves together. It’s a fun and easy game that teaches children about shapes and colours through play.

Neatly contained in a blue plastic carton, you can take the Egg Shape Sorter with you to engage and entertain your child while out and about, and it’s fun and easy to pack the eggs away in the carton when it’s time to come home.

Whether as an interesting addition to shopping and cooking games for all or simply for the colour and shape recognition for young toddlers, this is a toy that is a versatile and valuable addition to anyone’s toy box.

Recommended age: 18+ Months

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christmas Competition

It is starting to feel like Christmas and as a special Thank You to our Customers we would love to give away some gorgeous gift packs - total value of $196.50!

All you have to do is purchase over $40.00* between November 1st 2010 and December 15th 2010 to receive one (1) entry into the draw to win one of these gorgeous 5 gift packs. *excludes postage on orders under $150.00.

This draw is open to Australian and New Zealand residents only.

Draw closes on Wednesday 15th December at midnight (QLD Time) and the winners will be drawn at 8.00pm (QLD time) on Thursday 16th December 2010. We will be using to choose the winners and winners will be announced on our facebook page and notified by email.

If you'd like to know what is in each of the packs drop into our site and have a look. They are fantastic!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What is a Sensory Diet?

Despite its name, a Sensory Diet is not a strictly food based or nutritional plan. It is a scheduled activity program that is usually designed by a registered occupational therapist to meet your child’s individual sensory needs.

Many of us naturally seek our own stabilizing sensory triggers, like running our hand through our hair to help us think, or slowly sipping at a mug of soothing warm drink, we instinctively develop sensory habits and behaviours.

People with mild to severe sensory disorders often find it hard to develop positive behaviours that create balance and satisfy the needs of their nervous systems.

Also called sensory modulation, your child’s occupational therapist can assess your child and tailor a daily plan that caters to their particular sensory stimulation or soothing needs, helping them with settling and staying focussed throughout the day.

Each child responds differently to different sensory experiences, and some may need sensory input to soothe their over-wired nervous system, while others who are more sluggish or withdrawn may need activities that stimulate them and arouse their creative output.

Sensory diets are usually easy to follow and may include activities such as:

• Blowing up balloons or blowing bubbles which can help with sustained breath control and tends to have a soothing effect by encouraging deeper breathing and oxygenation.

• Drinking carbonated water can help stimulate hunger by creating awareness of the digestive tract as it tingles on the way down.

• Jumping on a trampoline can stimulate both balance and joint strength and weight awareness.

• Slowly moving your body weight from one foot to the other, rather than standing still can reduce the need to pace or wander around the room.

An occupational therapist will find activities that your child enjoys doing whilst getting the sensory stimulation required.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Temple Grandin - an amazing woman

I shared this clip on Facebook recently but I think it is so good that you all need to see it. Dr Temple Grandin autistic and is an inspirational woman. I am writing a special blog post about her that I will post for you later on. There is so much to learn from her.

Watch the video and get an insight into the way she sees the world and how that influences her actions.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Scooter Board

While some children with Asperger’s syndrome are well co-ordinated and agile, others can have problems with their gross motor skills appearing clumsy or awkward in their movements, with poor co-ordination. Gross motor skills require the larger muscle groups to function for skills such as running, skipping, hopping, jumping and climbing. Difficulties in children with Asperger’s may be caused by lack of confidence, limited strength, difficulty problem solving to achieve a desired result, avoidance or lack of motivation and awareness of body.

With these factors in mind it is important to consider how best to introduce something that may be new and beneficial to your child, without causing anxiety or fear.

The scooter board is a small piece of equipment that a child can lay on, kneel on, push or be pushed on. It is great for children with a range of abilities, is suitable for ages 3 and up and will hold up to 80kg! It will assist in developing gross motor skills, co-ordination, balance and kinesthetic awareness. The child gets on the board, holds onto the handles and then moves their body around on the board to move the scooter board in any direction.

New activities need to be introduced in a gradual and supportive way so that the child is able to participate with minimal fear or anxiety. Confidence needs to be built up gradually, so the use of any new piece of equipment needs to be implemented in the most basic of ways to begin with until the child is comfortable. The beauty of the scooter board is that it is ideal for this type of use; graduating from the simplest use to increasing skill over time.

Anything new may be resisted initially, but the variety of uses for the scooter board makes it ideal for a variety of levels of participation.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Communication Shutdown

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has a profound impact on those with the disorder, particularly in relation to social communication.

Not only do they face huge challenges socially but they can be left feeling alone and isolated.

Communication Shutdown is an initiative instigated by the AIEOU Foundation, a not for profit organisation dedicated to providing intervention programs for children diagnosed with ASD.

It is aimed not only at raising funds for autism groups in over 40 countries, but also to highlight the isolation and loneliness experienced by those unable to connect socially with others. The initiative involves shutting down your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts from midnight on November 1st 2010, for a period of 24 hours.

You can also show your support, and donate to the cause, by downloading a charity application (CHAPP) for $5 on Facebook. The CHAPP will show others that you have donated and are supporting autism, helps to spread the word, gives you a badge and adds your profile picture to a mosaic of supporters from all over the world. Including the celebrities!

You don’t need a Facebook or Twitter account to donate, and you’re more than welcome to donate more than $5.

Join us in spreading the word, raising much needed funds and experience what it’s like to be disconnected socially.

For more details and to become involved, visit

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Halloween for ASD Kids

Halloween is almost here, bringing with it festivities including dressing up, trick or treating and far too many lollies.

Although Halloween isn’t something we celebrate in Australia as much as they do in the USA, or on the same scale, there’s still a lot of fun that can be had with the kids. Dressing up in scary costumes is just part of it, even if we’re not into wandering around the neighbourhood knocking on our neighbours doors, demanding lollies or threatening tricks if they don’t hand them over!

For ASD kids, however, it can be a quite overwhelming.

Fancy dress costumes may be uncomfortable or restrictive, particularly those with masks, and your child might refuse to wear the costume. The child might ever overreact to the way it feels. The whole night can be full of fearful things. After all, not everyone likes to see skeletons walking their streets. Your child is even less likely to understand it.

You will need to manage the night in a way that protects your child’s sensitivities. Halloween Is a night of noise, colour, people and movement not to mention lollies.

I found a great article over at the Autism Support Network that offers some fantastic ideas about how to include your ASD child in the Halloween festivities. They are simple ideas that will help you to enjoy the day as a family without having to cope with extra stress.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Thomas and Friends Edison Chopsticks.

These cute Thomas, James or Percy Characters training chopsticks will have any little boy smiling.

What a great product these are. The Edison Chopsticks™ enable children aged 3 and older to immediately learn the principles behind the use of chopsticks and help to develop finger motion, concentration, focus, and intellect.

Did you know that when you use chopsticks you exercise 30 joints and 50 muscles of the body? No wonder it is a hard skill to manage. The Edison chopsticks help children to co-ordinate all those joints and muscles in a really simple way. The posture and angle of the Edison Chopsticks™ is very similar to the pen holding and writing grip - so it great for children who are learning to write and it encourages fine motor skills.

They are made out of high-quality, non-toxic, BPA free material.

Choose from Thomas (right and left hand), James (right hand) and Percy (right hand).

Size: L 17.5cm x W 4.5cm

Age: 3+

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sensory Sensitivities

The term “sensory sensitivity” refers to issues relating to the senses, particularly sight, touch, sound and movement.

When your child starts to show some odd behaviours you might want to look around, listen and even smell what is happening around them. It can gie you clues about what is bothering the child - what the sensory senstivity is.

Sensitivity can relate to “hypersensitivity” or heightened senses. People experiencing hypersensitivity are highly receptive and can become overwhelmed by sensory information, and can feel, see and hear things at an level much higher than the average person.

This can lead to behavioural issues, such as being abnormally frightened or distressed by noises, find colours or shapes disturbing or become anxious or bothered by the smell, taste or feel of things.

Brain overload might result in the child becoming inactive beause they can't make sense of what signals they are receiving. Alternatively they might become hyperactive as they react to the signals that are hurting their brains.

Others may experience “hyposensitivity” where senses are dulled. They may not be able to hear certain sounds or voices, or not feel touch or pain as others would. As with hypersensitivity, children with low sensitivity may become inactive as their brain can’t decipher what is coming in.

Alternatively, they may become hyperactive due to a need for more sensory information, either through self-stimulation or inattention.

Children with autism are likely to experience sensory sensitivity, which may lead them to display apparent obsessive behaviours, such as wearing the same shirt (they like the feel of it) or refusing to wear a different shirt (the tag on the back irritates them to the point of frustration). They might talk to themselves a lot in an effort to block out other noises. Perhaps they have to touch everything as they walk along - even to the point of feeling the wall as they move from room to room. Your child might need some tactile stimulation.

Others may become frantic at sounds and sights, such as music and lights, hurting their ears and causing their brain to overload. They may scream or hit their head, as it is literally hurting them.

If you can pinpoint what it is that is causing 'odd' behaviour in your child you can find a way to manage the behaviour. Teaching your child to cope with their sensitivities is often a matter of pre-warning your child about what is going to happen or involving them in activities which help them to extend their boundaries.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

PECS - Free symbols

PECS - Picture Exchange Communication System - can make it so much easier for you and your child to communicate. If your children can't express themselves in words their frustration can cause an emotional blowout. Imagine how much easier it is for them to pick up a card and show you what they want you to know?

The hardest part of putting together your PECS cards is finding the images especially without blowing the budget. Many sites need you to own Boardmaker which is a software program that helps you manage the image production. An Australian version, with specifically Australian images, is also available.

If you want to make your own images there are some sites that can help. They offer free images for you to use. Here are links to a few of them. - This site has heaps of links to useful sites for PECS but if you scroll down to the bottom you will find links directly to images that you can use. - Free printables. - A collection of downloadable images. - a downloadable pdf file of sample images that you can print out and use - This site has images from Mayer Johnson and Silverlining Multimedia, specialist in PECS. While these are not copyright free you can print and trial them with your child before committing to purcahse any software. You need to know that PECS will work for you first, don't you? - Very handy for printing out brand images. Think of Coke and McDonalds. This site has lots of logos that might be useful. - ready to use printables for your normal daily activities. - a few images that might be handy. - great images that are easy to understand.

I know that we have bombarded you with a lot of information in these last two posts but I think they will be very useful for those of you who need PECS information and advice. I hope we have made your life a little easier.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

PECS - Sources of information

PECS, or Picture Exchange Communication System is a therapy based program used by professionals dealing in autism spectrum disorders, such as occupational therapists, speech pathologists, social workers and even parents and teachers. It is designed to provide a way for people with autism to communicate without speaking, or the need for using words.

Through use of a series of cards consisting pictures or symbols representing items or objects, tasks or actions, enabling children to communicate how they are feeling or what they need, as well as aiding with establishing routines and creating social stories to help children cope with social situations.

It is recommended parents (and others) complete a training course in PECS and to work with children on a daily basis with the system to ensure maximum benefit.

Further information regarding the system, how it works and the basis behind it, as well as where you can access training courses in Australia can be found at: - also provides a list of all therapies and services for ASD in Australia, as well as additional, useful resources) - provides links and access to the PECS manual and PECS related products and tools and other useful resources - lists a variety of interventions and therapies available to children with ASD, including the use of combined therapies - also provides an online community, resources and events, and support - offers information, events, resources, access to tools and materials as well as an online community and support - Pyramid Education Consultants of Australia who conduct training courses and workshops for those interested in the PECS system

Next week we will have a look at some of the PECS cards available, especially those that are free.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What Makes a Good Toy?

Toys are a fantastic way to encourage learning in kids, stimulate senses and develop cognitive, motor and social skills.

This is particularly important for children with autism, who often require additional assistance in stimulation of the senses, motor control and recognition and understanding of social rules and playing with other children.

As with all toys for children, cheaper toys are usually not the preferred option, as they are easier to break or fall apart, and are often unsafe. Spending a bit extra for a sturdy, durable toy is well worth the money, in terms of safety as well as longevity of the toy.

They generally, depending on the type of toy, offer more options for interactivity, sensory stimulation and thought processes. Even simple aspects, such as the type of noise made or the ability to press buttons or flick switches can have profound impacts on its playability and enjoyment by the child.

For children with autism, toys that have a greater focus on sensory stimulation are most beneficial. Those that also offer a “cause and effect” type reaction, such as squeezing a ball and a light comes on, engages both touch and visual senses.

Toys or games a larger number of muscles to be involved; like the whole hand being required to squeeze, as opposed to one finger pressing a button, offer a greater opportunity for larger areas to be stimulated. Team them up with toys that engage other sensors, visual or auditory is good (leave taste for eating food!) and the impact on development of many areas is enhanced.

Toys that require sorting, matching or building, such as puzzles, LEGO or shape sorting/colour matching are great for improving cognitive skills, creativity and imagination. Of course, they also play a role in development of fine motor skills.

You also can’t go past play doh for creativity, development of imagination, and the touch and feel of has a profound impact on sensory stimulation. You can also add food flavours, such as strawberry or orange essence, and engage smell as well.

To help your children develop go and buy them a good toy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why play is important

Play plays an important role in the physical, mental and social development of children; facilitating muscle development and body control, development of the senses, brain stimulation and thought and logic processes, and understanding social norms and accepted behaviours.

Physical development is enhanced through active play like running, jumping, climbing or dancing, and through quieter activities like drawing, doing puzzles, building LEGO or tea parties.

Gross Motor Development involves the larger muscles and muscle groups, like arms and legs, and is responsible for the ability to perform activities like walking and climbing, and also balance, special awareness and control of body parts.

Unstructured play, or imaginative/pretend play, on playground equipment or the furniture at home is a fantastic way to enhance gross motor skills, even if it does appear chaotic!

Fine Motor Skills are developed through use of smaller muscles, and more refined activities, like drawing, threading beads or constructing LEGO. Play that requires the use of smaller body parts, like fingers and encourages the use of various grips or movements helps strengthen the muscles and aids development of control. This is essential for learning writing, for example, later on at school.

Play doh and tea parties, train track construction and doing Barbie’s hair all require fine motor control.

They also aid in mental development, where thought processes and logic may need to be applied. Children learn how shapes fit, or which way an object needs to face in order for the play to work.

Cause and effect is also achieved as they begin to understand that pushing a particular button, for example, will result in a specific noise. Learning to comprehend their actions have consequences is extremely beneficial for mental development.

Play with others offers opportunities to learn social norms, sharing and appreciation for others. Comprehension of rules – both for the game and social rules – are addressed and children learn to work together towards a similar outcome and enjoyment.

Although play can be noisy or fraught with potential danger, it is essential for the growth and development of children physically, mentally and socially.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spikko Carer Record Folder

I recently came across this product at Spikko and think it is fabulous. It's a Carer Record Folder that is designed for carers and is especially useful if managing a child with a disability or additional needs.

The Carer Record folder's purpose is to simplify the process of attending various appointments by filing all important paperwork and information in one easily accessible folder. Categories include: Personal, Medical, Assessments, Therapies, Correspondence, Education, Centrelink, Funding/Concessions, Receipts/Statements, Information/Notes. Containing a variety of forms to record all types of information such as medicare information, contacts, medications, hospital visits and more.

The folder contains a business card holder that fits ten cards and a gusseted sheet protector with flap so that you can keep allyour contacts safely in the one place.

The beauty of this product is that you have all the information that you need at your fingertips. Just pick up the folder and take it to your appointments. You will have everything you might need in the folder.

You can also purchase the forms on CD so that you can print off extra copies as you need them.

If you are managing the needs of a child with some form of disability this product will simplify your life.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kimochis – helping kids get in touch with their feelings

One of the greatest challenges for people with autism can be to understand the feelings of others and to adequately communicate or demonstrate their own feelings. This is often one of the first things that can alert parents and caregivers to the possibility of a child having autism or any of the autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Using visual aids has been shown to help teach children with autism about how to read the various expressions of others and how they might be feeling, as well as teaching them how to successfully express how they feel themselves.

Kimochi (Key-mo-chee) means “feeling” in Japanese and the Kimochis Bug is a specially developed educational toy with various “feelings cushions” that the child can place in a pocket on his belly, showing how the Kimochis Bug feels inside.

The Komochis Bug is a safe friend who, like many children with autism, is scared of change because change is a big process for a caterpillar. Kimochis Bug’s secret ambition to fly means that changes are things that he must be prepared for and find the courage to deal with.

Bug is highly intelligent, fairly wary of new things and new people, but really good at carrying on a conversation when he feels comfortable. He is brightly coloured, soft and promotes tactile stimulation.

Because new things can be terrifying, Bug has become very clever at talking his way out of just about anything, but he is smart enough to know that he needs to be brave and find new ways of learning to participate if he wants to achieve his goals.

Kimochis Bug comes with a 'How to Feel Guide' plus Happy, Brave and Left-out child-safe “feeling cushions”, packed in its own peek-a-boo box.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Zac Web Browser – Helping kids with autism to focus.

Children who live with any of the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are often highly intelligent, but usually have specific learning environment requirements.

Zac Browser is the first Internet browser developed specifically for children living with various autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and it helps to take the guess work and trial and error out of finding the most appropriate sites and activities for your child to use. Best of all it is totally free to download and use.

Zac (Zone for Autistic Children) Browser is a completely free and safe software package that directs your child to activities that are specially developed and aimed to assist in learning for children with ASD. The entire selection of activities is suitable for all children of varied learning levels, so they are great for your child to share with friends and family.

Your child will find the diverse range of activities and games engaging and rewarding, and with Zac Browser they will be directed quickly and easily to their choices. You may find it hard to resist joining in with your child to sing along to Creature Karaoke!

The chosen videos encourage your child to interact and all of the games are educational and fun to play, from a simple drawing board to fun with Dora, Clifford or even the lovely Caillou, your child is sure to find lots of new favourites.

The latest version of Zac Browser contains a link to Autism News and Discussion Boards where you can source a wealth of information on ASD behaviours, tools and advice and is also compatible with the Wii Remote (property of Nintendo) for balance and hand and arm movement activities.

Why not download your child’s free copy of Zac Browser today?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What is a Fidget Toy?

Have you heard of fidget toys? They are great tools for those children who just cant seem to sit still.

Children with forms of autism, ADHD and sensory processing dysfunction often fidget especially during times when they are required to concentrate. They wiggle, kick around, chew their fingers and become totally distracted from the topic they are supposed to be working on.

A fidget toy is something small, like a pliable ball, that the child can fiddle with to satisfy their needs without distracting others. Doodling while you are on the telephone or chewing a pen while you are thinking both work in the same manner. The brain is focused and the hands are occupied.

Research has shown that fidget toys seem to distract that part of the brain that makes kids squirm and fiddle. Once the brain is occupied the child can start to contentrate on their work. For adults, stress balls and executive desk toys have the same function.

Children with ADHD and forms of autism sometimes seem slow to react to their surroundings. Some researchers think that they are are "overreactive to high stimulation and under-react to low levels of stimulation." A fidget toy is designed to be enough to increase the childs awareness of the environment but not so exciting that it causes an overreaction.

For children who have trouble focusing, a fidget toy can calm them so much that there is a marked increase in their ability to learn and absorb information. It might be that this is what your child needs to help them through the long school days.

Finding the right fidget toy will be trial and error for every child is different. Look for something that is small enough to be portable and pliable enough to be squeezed and reshaped. Something like our Squishy Farm Critters would be perfect.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

My Busy Day - Magnetic Activity Chart

We know that children with autism can be very easily distracted from what they should be doing and that can be distressing for both of you. Our world relies on systems to keep it moving and one foot out of step upsets routines.

People who are organised seem to cope better with life, particularly during their school years so one of your challenges is to teach your child to become and to stay organised. A great way to begin is with a simple, visual chart.

Our fantastic Magnetic Moves "My Busy Day" activity chart is a colourful and fun chart designed to help your little one have input into their day. Little ones can work with mum and dad to select the tiles which outline the key activities in their day. This way there are no surprises, no false expectations and no disappointment. The little one feels empowered and that their opinion and input is valued.

The chart has a morning and afternoon routine section as well as a reward section. What I love most about this chart is that it is fun and easy to use and the ‘Done’ section allows little ones to keep track of their daily achievements by moving the magnets when tasks are completed. It is simple to see what happens next in the day because it is shown right there in the next image.

The chart is also very visual which is often the best way for children with autism to communicate. The tiles are images and the morning and afternoon charts have different coloured backgrounds.

What you are doing is training your child to use an organising tool to keep him or her on track. As the child grows the tool will become more complicated but the approach will remain the same. Don’t underestimate the value of this little tool.
This activity chart is suitable for any child aged 3-5 years because it requires no reading.

My Busy Day features:
* Full colour A4 magnetic chart (to put on your fridge or any metallic surface)
* 50 Magnetic tiles including fun, colourful illustrations and colour coded to keep your little one organised throughout the day as well as 2 blank tiles for you to customise to your needs.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gluten Free Eating

Did you know that studies of children with autism show that a gluten intolerance can lead to behaviour changes? Healing Thresholds says that children with autism are not able to properly process gluten through their digestive systems. This leads to a build up of the gluten proteins in their system which affects their behaviour in the same way that a dose of red cordial can affect others.

“Specifically, in these children, gluteomorphines could reduce their desire for social interaction, block pain messages, and increase confusion.”

A lot of studies examine the role of gluten as well as milk protein called casein in the behaviour of children with autism. By eliminating these products from their diets some parents found that their child’s behaviour improved.

When your child, is diagnosed as allergic to gluten or you are putting them on a gluten-free diet for behaviour issues like we did for our son, the first instinct is to panic. What on earth will you feed your child now?

Once the panic subsides and you start to look around there are actually lots of food choices still available to you. Many big companies are also starting to produce gluten-free products. Freedom Foods is just one company that caters for dietary intolerances. Have a look at their breakfast range and you'll see that your kids can eat their version of corn flakes and still look the same as everyone else. Online sites Taste and Cuisine have big collections of recipes that are gluten-free.

My son loves pikelets and the best recipe I have found is at It's fast and easy, gluten and nut-free but best of all it is very appealing to kids. If you click on the Kidspot link it will take you drectly to that special recipe.

I'd love to know what gluten-free recipes you use for your child. Leave me a comment and tell me about them.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Autism and the iTouch

The arrival of the iTouch, like an iPhone without the phone, has proven to be a surprisingly good thing for children with forms of autism. All over the internet there are stories of the difference it has made in their lives.

Children seem to adapt to new technology really quickly which makes the iTouch a great tool for learning.

There are lots of apps that can be downloaded that will suit your child’s specific needs. Some apps help children learn to focus while others help them to communicate.

Model Me: Going Places” is a free app that helps kids learn to navigate challenging locations in the community. Each location contains a photo slide show of children modelling appropriate behaviour in places like restaurants, shops and hairdressers.

The “Grace App” is described as a picture exchange for non-verbal people. The beauty of this app is that now your child can show you what he wants or where she wants to go. They can take photos and add them to the app so it becomes quite a personalised communication system.

These are just two of the apps that have been developed. There are lots more out there and I am sure that there will be more to come as this idea catches on. Isn’t it exciting to think of all the families that can now really connect with their autistic child? It’s a whole new communication channel that really seems to work.

For older children, who want to look like everyone else of their age, the iTouch helps them blend in with the crowd. The fact that this little device is actually a tool to help them cope in social situations is something that no one else has to know. It can help to keep them organised as well as show them how to join in a conversation.

The iTouch and the iPad are even being used in schools. The iPad is larger so it is easier to read and has a better keyboard, making it great for the classroom. It opens up a whole new world of interaction between the child, the teacher and the classmates.

Click here for a list of apps that might be useful for you (along with direct links to the app itself) I hope you find the right app for you and your child.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

♥Today is The Toy Bug's 3rd Birthday♥

A few years ago I had a dream - about creating a business where parents could purchase quality, value for money educational toys that would help with their children’s skill developments and toys that their children would enjoy playing and learning with at the same time. Three years ago, that dream, The Toy Bug, became a reality.

Today I spent the day with my son, going to visit an old school friend who is just about to experience the wonderful joy of becoming a mum herself, taking my son for a haircut and having him sit there without screaming (a huge triumph) and then taking him to McDonalds as a reward. While sitting at McDonald I thought about my journey over the past 3 years and what a journey it has been! It has been a HUGE and wonderful learning experience for me not just in the terms of business but personally too.

We have come so fair since the 1st catalogue went out in July 2007 to now being online and having the most wonderful supporting customers. You, our customers, are the soul of our business – you are the ones who I am celebrating today. ♥SO THANK YOU ALL FOR MAKING THE TOY BUG WHAT IT IS TODAY♥. Your lovely emails and feedback motivate me, inspire me and sometimes moves me to tears of joy and I thank you every single day for allowing me to bring our wonderful products into your children’s lives.

I too have to thank my silent supporters who hold my hand when my life starts to gets too much, who give me brilliant ideas, who push me to strive and believe in me – I thank you from the bottom of my heart♥:

My Gorgeous son Lachie – who is my biggest inspiration and without him there would be no The Toy Bug! He is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I love him more than words can say - I love him Autism and all and would not have it any other way! We have climbed many mountains over the past 6 years and I know there will be many more to climb and I thank him for showing me that I possess many qualities I never knew I had in me like patience, acceptance, understanding, strength and to appreciate the smallest things in life like a smile, hug or hearing the words most take for granted like “mum”. I believe all parents are given their child/ren for a reason and I am happy that God found me for Lachie and that I am a changed person with having him in my life!

My Husband - for having faith in me and allowing me to follow my dream and using our hard earned savings to start The Toy Bug. For his continued love and support in all I do and for helping out with the cooking, cleaning, ironing, stocktakes, packing orders and being my critic – yes I am a very lucky lady!

My son’s therapists who helped my son, taught me the most amazing skills, given me wonderful advice and helped my family in more ways than they will ever know.

My beautiful family and friends who helped me along the way with looking after Lachie when I needed to get things done, for giving me brilliant ideas, helping pack orders, giving me a shoulder to cry on when life gets too much and for making me take time out for myself so I don’t burn out!

A big Thank You to all the beautiful families touched by Special Needs – I thank you for your support and spreading the word about The Toy Bug. You are all an inspiration to me – how everyday you put one foot in front of the other and deal with whatever is thrown at you. For fighting day after day for your child’s rights so they can lead a fulfilling life and promoting public awareness.

A big Thank you to the wonderful networking communities I am apart of - I have meet some of the most amazing and inspiring people who have guided me, supported me and inspired me to be a better person, business women and Mum.

2010/2011 is going to be a big year at The Toy Bug, I am working on some wonderful new ideas, bringing you new products and supplying old favourites and I’m looking forward to sharing the journey with you!

So please grab your glass of whatever tasty beverage you have (mine has bubbles) and toast with me today to another year of The Toy Bug and too many more to come!

*Clink *Cheers*

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Product of the Week!

Each week I will be reviewing a product that I love to use with my son and this week, my product of the week is the very versatile
~Wooden Lacing Reels~

These brightly coloured lacing reels come in a set of 20 reels with 2 laces. The size of the reel is 3cm x 3.25cm which make them great for little hands.

Lacing products are fantastic for encouraging Fine Motor Skills.

For those who are unsure what Fine Motor Skills are – they involve the use of the small muscles in the fingers, hand and arm to manipulate, control and use tools and materials. Another important component of Fine Motor Skills development is Hand-eye Coordination - that is where a person uses their vision to control the movements and actions of their small muscles.

My son has poor Fine Motor Skills so I always try to use toys that are fun, keep him engaged and involves his interests. The lacing reels are perfect for this as he loves lining/stacking things up, colours and counting so I can use the reels to teach my son multiple tasks like:

Lacing – using the lace to push through the reel is great for practicing the pincer grasp of the fingers. While he was lacing we were also counting the reels to a song like “one reel, two reels, three reels, four, five reels, six reels, seven reels, more”.
Stacking – we used the reels to stack on top of each other to see how high we could get them until they fell down or the fun part for my son was knocking them down!
Sequencing – we used the reels for my son to match the sequence of colours and while we sung our reel song (see above under lacing).

Matching – we used the reels for my son to match a reel to the coloured spots on the sheet.

Sorting – we used the reels as a sorting tool by asking my son to sort the reels by colour onto the correct coloured sheets and said each colour as he was placing them on the sheet.

Early Math – we used the reels as counters to teach early math with counting and number recognition.

Pretend Play – we used the lacing reels as pretend snakes and we were sliding through the forest while making ‘hissing’ sounds.

I was able to gain my son’s attention for a good 40 minutes and teaching him many different tasks from one toy all whilst having fun. Really the possibilities are endless – all you need is a little creativity and make it heaps of fun with lots of excitement and encouragement.

The Wooden Lacing Reels can be purchased from our online store for $14.95.

Happy Playing,

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Why hearing the word "Mum" means so much!

With Mother’s Day being today, I thought I would tell the story of why I love hearing the word “Mum”.

As a mother you can’t wait for your baby to say the word “Mum” - I was one of them. But I did not get to hear the word “Mum” until my son was around the age of 4 ½ and I still fills my heart with warmth just thinking about that day. I remember the cute little voice as he said it in; the tears streaming down my face, the joy of him finally acknowledging me as “Mum” and the excitement of ringing family and friends and shouting my son called me “Mum”. I remember thinking it was a miracle as I did not know if, let alone when, I would ever hear that beautiful word. It was a long journey to get to that point with many years of speech, occupational therapy and home therapy. It was hard for me as a mum to have a child who didn’t talk or did not want to be picked up or hugged. As a Mum those are all things you look forward to and some days I would have tears in my eyes when I went to pick my son up from day care as I would see other Mums collecting their children and their child running up to them with open arms and saying “Mummy”. For me most days I would have to go and sit in front of my son for him to realise that Mum was there to take him home.

Now I hear the word “Mum” every day and I love when I pick my son up from school that he now runs up to me saying “Mummy” with a open arms. I am ever so very grateful for this everyday and I never get sick of hearing the word “Mum”. But please spare a thought for all those mums out there that have not heard that gorgeous word yet and who are so longing to hear it. Even though their children may not speak I know that their children love them dearly by the hugs or kisses or just a touch of her hand to let her know they are there and every time I see these gestures it just warms my heart as I have been there.

So from me to every Mum out there I wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day and hope you enjoy having a big cuddle or a smile or a touch and if you are one of the fortunate ones - love hearing the word “Mum”!

♥ Jo xo

I found this poem for all the Mums who have children with Autism.

And Then God Created This Mother…

When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into his sixth day of 'overtime' when an angel appeared and said, "You're doing a lot of fiddling around on this one."

And the Lord said "Have you read the specs on this order? She has to be completely washable, but not plastic, have 180 moveable parts – all replaceable, run on black coffee and leftovers, have a lap that disappears when she stands up, a kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair and six pairs of hands, ears that will hear things she doesn't want to hear, a mouth that can gently kiss away scrapes and bruises and yet tear the hide right off of those who try anything against the best interests of her child.

Yes, this model will have to be able to sit patiently and listen to outlandish reports about her child without flinching. She will have to hear how hopeless it all is and know that it isn't so. She will have to have those kinds of eyes which don't tear when she hears other mothers talk about how well things are going for their children."

The angel shook its head slowly and said, "Six pairs of hands, yet? No way." "It's not the hands that are causing the problems," said the Lord. "It's the three pairs of eyes this mother has to have." "That's on the standard model"? asked the angel.

The Lord nodded and said, "One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, "What are you kids doing in there?" when she already knows. Another pair here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn't but what she has to know and, of course, the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up for the 99th time and say, "I understand and I love you anyway" without so much as uttering a word.

"Lord," said the angel, touching his sleeve gently, "come to bed. Tomorrow…" "I can't, answered the Lord, "I am so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick, feeds a family of six on one pound of hamburger and gets her nine-year-old to stand under a shower." The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. "It's too soft," it sighed.

"But tough!" said the Lord excitedly. "You cannot imagine what this mother can do or endure." "Can it think?" asked the angel. "Not only can it think," said the Creator, "it can reason and compromise."

Finally, the angel bent over and ran a finger across the cheek. "There is a leak," it pronounced. "I told you that you were trying to put too much into this model." "That's not a leak, said the Lord, "it's a tear." "What's it for?" asked the angel.

"Tears are for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness and pride… this model will know a lot about all that" answered the Lord, "But you know" He continued, "I don't even remember putting that tear there." "By the way", asked the angel, "what will you call this model?"

"I will call this one simply, the mother of an autistic child."

Author Unknown

It has been a while....

I am so sorry that it has been so long since I posted on my Blog.

To be honest I think the main reason why is that I have been scared to write - that inner voice telling me no one will want to listen to what you write etc but I have had some lovely people lately ask me about writing my story with our Autism Journey and any tips/ideas that have helped us along the way. So I am going to step outside my comfort zone and give it ago and hope I don't bore you all too much.

So until tomorrow when I will write my Mother's Day post - Goodnight and Sweet Dreams!

Cheers Jo :o)
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