Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Making Christmas Decorations

Christmas is fast approaching. A big part of Christmas is transforming the house, inside and out with Christmas decorations such as lights, tinsel, shiny baubles and smiling Santa faces galore! However, for kids on the spectrum, Christmas decorations can mean a sensory overload and might cause confusion and stress with all the changes to regular look of the house and their “space.”

Here are some tips on how to cope with the sensory overload of having a houseful of Christmas decorations:

• Get your child involved. They might like to choose a special decoration at the shops to hang on the tree. You could encourage them to focus on a particular job such as decorating the bottom half of the tree or something else at their height level.

• Make Christmas Decorations. Helping make decorations might help ease the sensory overload. We have some great items in our Arts and Craft section to help this. This Photo CD Ornament is a great idea as you can use photos of familiar faces and even the family pet which will certainly make it easier to deal with strange and new decorations. This Handprint Santa is also a lovely way to get your children involved.

• There are some certain decorations such as blinking lights, lots of glittery decorations such as tinsel and random noisy ornaments like talking Santas that can wear down senses over time. before your child reacts, try and plan carefully exactly the type of decorations you will include.

Getting your child involved in making Christmas decorations and decorating the house is an excellent way to help them cope with the changes that come this time of year. They will love to feel responsible for making the house look “pretty” and Christmassy and this will also give them a sense of pride when they can see their gorgeous homemade decorations hanging on display.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Under the Glass

Kids are, by their very nature, curious little beings. They’re also fascinated by little beings in nature.

Bugs, worms, insects and all manner of creepy crawlies grab their attention and just beg for closer inspection.

Letting your little ones loose in the garden is a start. Add an Insect Magnifying Glass and they’ll be delighted with the detail of the insect world they can now explore.

It is a natural way for your children to embark on an educational – and FUN – foray into the insect world that allows them to examine creepy crawlies in their natural habitats.

If the insects keep hiding, as they tend to do when confronted with giant sized pre-schoolers!, you might like to have your kids explore them under the glass.

This great idea from A Little Learning shows how you can create a Magnifier Discovery Board to use with your Insect Magnifying Glass to closely, and safely inspect the insect world.

You’re not limited to insects and other creepy crawlies either. You and your children can explore all kinds of natural objects from your backyard and garden, or from anywhere, really.

Remember to release the crawlies back into their natural habitat when the examination has finished, and use your display board for any number of items and objects of fascination.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Autism Buddy - An Online Resource

Autism Buddy is a website rich in resources for parents, teachers and other carers of children with special educational needs.

The resources include an incredible range of printable worksheets, flashcards, reward charts, e-books and many more. Hundreds of these are available to download for free, while others require that you purchase a premium membership. This can be paid over various periods, starting at monthly and going up to two yearly. An organisational membership is also available, which would be ideal for schools or community groups.

Included in the Premium Membership is access to Flash Card Maker, giving you free reign to design cards best suited to your children's needs, as well as their Interactive Zone, where children can access a range of activities such as colouring pages and puzzles.

The free resources are extensive and their use would not be limited to children with special needs. For example, the Chore Chart would not be out of place in any home or classroom. Similarly, Animal Bingo can be played with just about anyone.

Some of the resources would also be helpful to anyone wanting to assist children with their emotional and social development, such as this set of Emotion Flash Cards. In addition to visual learning aids, the website also hosts a forum, a blog, information resources for carers and an opportunity to "ask the experts".

Autism Buddy is very easy to navigate, with charming, simple graphics, careful use of bold colours and an intuitive set of headings and categories.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

IEPs - What They Are And What You Should Know About Them

What is an IEP? IEP stands for Individual Education Plan, a document negotiated between educators and family members or caregivers to ensure a student’s individual learning and education needs, as a result of a disability, are met in the most appropriate and accessible manner. IEP’s are normally developed on a 6-12 month timeline depending on the state or educational system you are dealing with, but can be reviewed and amended at any time as circumstances change.

That’s the formal explanation, but what does this really mean?

People who have the best knowledge and best interests of the child meet to set 2-6 educational goals based on the child’s specific needs, skills, attributes and aspirations. Where appropriate, the most important member of the team, the child, should be present at any meeting.

A successful IEP has 5 basic steps: information gathering, consultation or meeting, design of the plan, implementation and finally evaluation.

A few general notes to remember:

• An IEP should only be part of your child's curriculum. There will be other class curriculum and content that will be general to the class and the school that will not be included.

• In the spirit of inclusion, the goals of the IEP will be incorporated in general class activities wherever possible and will not necessarily require individual tasks or programming.

• As with any kind of plan, goals for your child need to be realistic, meaningful and measurable.

• Working towards the goals of the IEP across school, home and community involvements will greatly increase the success and effectiveness of the plan and the educational goals for the child.

IEP’s are a working document that can be reviewed and reassessed as needs, goals and circumstances change. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request amendments at any stage. You are always your child’s best advocate.
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.

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Cheers Jo xo