Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Choosing The Right Gift For A Child On The Autism spectrum

When it comes to buying a gift for a child on the autism spectrum, your decision requires a little more time and care, and it’s a little tougher for all involved if you get it wrong. Sad but true. Buy the wrong gift and you risk distress for the child as well as the parent.

A great place to start for advice is asking the parents, who can usually give you some tips regarding the particular kinds of skills the child is currently concentrating on, and some fun and relevant toys that suit. Maybe fine motor or active play skills are a priority for example, or the child might enjoy a tactile toy that will soothe and relax. Is the child learning to be more independent? Toys that assist in self help might be a good option. There can be a lot of expense in encouraging learning through play in kids with special needs, and the parents will appreciate the effort and assistance a gift that meets current skill development goals instead of something inappropriate or potentially stress inducing.

Whilst it’s not uncommon for kids on the autism spectrum to have obsessions, and sometimes families and therapists would rather move away from those things, at the end of the day, isn’t gift giving about pleasing the receiver? If you really want to see joy on a face when they tear (or carefully and quietly) open the paper, play to the child’s interests and obsessions.

Finding the right toy can be a game of trial and error, and if you really don’t trust yourself and would like the child or the parents to choose themselves, a gift voucher is sure to please.

Buying the right gift for a child on the autism spectrum is a little more challenging as the usual age appropriate gifts are not always suitable, but it’s not hard to find something that will bring joy, development or relaxation with a little bit of thought and a great selection from a fantastic online store like the Toy Bug.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Animals For Therapy

It’s hard to find a person who doesn’t like animals, even if they don’t own one. There is something honest and endearing about the unconditional love shared by animals that is hard to resist.

Everyone can benefit from the joy of having regular contact with an animal - people of all ages and abilities, health conditions and physical challenges, the love of an animal knows no limits.

Animal Assistance Therapy has been researched and proven in a study by MonashLink, to assist in developing resilience in adolescents, as a tool in preventing depression, anxiety and drug use. Sounds like every child should have access to a pet in their home or extended community network!

Helpguide.org, a non profit health resource website advises that animal contact, especially when it involves a level or responsibility and training, has shown to have measurable improvements on health and wellbeing, including lower triglyceride levels, lower blood pressure in times of stress and better outcomes after serious health incidents such as cardiac arrest.

Pet ownership provides a wonderful opportunity to naturally reduce stress and tension, through touch and movement and sensory relief. This can be particularly relevant for anyone with an autism spectrum disorder, and having responsibility for the care of an animal requires routine and structure, and can also act as a social lubricant as pet owners, particularly dog walkers often stop and chat.

If you need convincing, check out kids at a petting zoo, or visit supported living accommodation for senior citizens with a dog, and you will see for yourself the effect an animal can have on people of all ages.

When you consider how expensive, time consuming and difficult to access therapy and counselling can be, the cost and time commitment to a family pet is a small investment with immeasurable rewards and well worth the risk. We might not all be a dog or a cat person, but with options from reptiles to rodents, scales, fins and feathers, there is a pet for just about every taste and lifestyle.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Toy Bug On Pinterest

Have you seen Pinterest yet? It’s an online pinboard where you can pin images of the things you love or which catch your eye as you wander online.

We’ve created a page of our own with a series of pinboards that you might like to look at. Our boards are all related to aspects of autism. We are using our boards as resources for anyone who needs information about autism syndrome and how to manage it.

You’ll find boards to do with developing fine motor skills, coping with bullying, visual aids, schedules and much more. For example, if you click on the board called iPad/IPhone Applications you’ll see that it is full of images and each has a link at the bottom telling you where the app came from.

Can you see how useful Pinterest can be?

It’s such a simple system to use and yet it can pack a lot of information into a small space in easy to manage chunks.

Pop over to our page and I hope you’ll find something that is really useful within your world.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dave Is Brave

The whole world seems to be suffering from bullying these days and parents are often at a loss to know what to do about it. This affects children who are on the autism spectrum as well and it is difficult to know which route to take to show kids that this is not acceptable behaviour. Kids with autism can often show intelligence far beyond their years and it is this that makes them stand out from the crowd and makes them the target for bullies. The problem is that they don’t understand why it’s happening or know what to do about it.

We’ve introduced the Dave is Brave pack, which is designed to help children in this situation.

Dave is Brave consists of several CDs and learning tools to show children of all capabilities how to cope with bullying and how to work out arguments by striving to become ‘buddies’. The book is easy to read and has realistic pictures to demonstrate language, assertiveness and reconciliation skills in a fun and engaging way.

The pack was created by Amanda Gray, a special education and early childhood teacher and it forms part of the Learn to Be Buddies series.

This is an invaluable pack and I highly recommend it.

If you’d like to find out more about the book and have a look at the content, you can see it on YouTube.
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