Tag Archives: iPad

The Year That Was… 2012

31 Dec

The year of 2012 will soon be over, we will wave it farewell as we enter a new chapter.

Is it because I’m getting older or do the years really fly by so quickly? It seems not so long ago I was sat here writing a post summing up 2011 yet here we are again fast approaching the year 2013… I can hardly keep up!

So, how was 2012 for us? Well, amazingly it was pretty drama free (just the way we like it)! With little man now really settled at his new school things have been… Well… “Normal” I mean I no longer get daily phone calls from head teachers demanding I collect little man! I’m actually able to go shopping without that niggling fear that my mobiles about to ring as soon as I start loading the supermarket trolley.

We have had some wonderful highlights to this year one being our second Mad blog awards win where the blog was crown most inspiring for the second consecutive year in a row. It was a truly wonderful surprise and one we didn’t expect. Lets just say I woke up with a somewhat sore head the following morning.

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I was also a runner up for most inspirational blog in the BIBs (brilliance in blogging wards) run by Britmums.

At the beginning of the year I got to attend Little mans first ever sports day. Ok, his 12 years old so that may seem strange for some. But those who like me have a child on the autism spectrum will likely have experienced the same… Their child being excluded from everyday activities as they are branded something of a health and safety risk.

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Little mans attendance at his new special school has brought with it a lot of “firsts” this year, including his most recent Christmas performance that almost had me in floods of happy tears. I also attended the school Christmas lunch which is such a big deal when you have got to the stage of thinking “You’re child will never be given such opportunities” such negative thoughts are all based purely on the bad experiences of the past.

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Other wonderful things that have happened this year include, being chosen as Toy R Us Toyologist. Alice and little man were blue group reviewers and lots of fun was had reviewing all the great toys in the run up to Christmas. Little man discovered his love of making review videos and mini tutorials, his confidence grew and as a result his only gone and started his very own youtube channel.

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We were also invited to be LEGO Family bloggers this year and as you can guess, that news had the little man excited beyond belief.

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Another really big surprise was being chosen to be one of Butlins Ambassadors. Next year we will be visiting Bognor Regis resort and I’ll be able to share with readers our experiences including how the park caters for children with additional needs and sen. We start our holiday on the 1st April and I for one really can’t wait.

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October see me as one of ten bloggers and writers who were chosen as finalist in the Savoo smartest shopper competition. I was in with the chance of winning a prize of £10,000 plus the chance to write my own money saving blog. No I didn’t win! But looking back I do realise what a wonderful achievement it was to be in the final amongst the red hot competition.

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This year seemed to be the year for competitions. What with Alice being a runner up in the Ice Age Jr reviewer competition winning a fab trip to Bristol, Little man bagging himself an iPad Mini on an online raffle that was organised by his school reward system Vivo, and that of Alice finding out on Christmas Eve that she had won £750! This was for her amazing entry into the post card from Santa competition run by Travel Supermarket (the entry & video can be seen on my sister blog mummy of many talents).

20121231-133607.jpgAbove… A beautiful trip to bristol

On the whole the year has been a kind one. Sadly we do still have the worrying situation involving my sister and the SS (see the blog post peek a boo) following us into this coming new year. As a family we are continuing to support her the best we can while fighting the system that is destroying her.

So… What will next year bring? New opportunities, more school plays and sports days. I don’t hope its a good one I’ll be sure to make it a great one.

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Game Inspiration For Last Minute Shoppers

23 Dec

Its almost Christmas and with literally a few short shopping hours left I thought I’d share a couple of great last minute gift ideas for that special someone that you find all to hard to buy for.

As a mother of a child on the autism spectrum I have found myself in this situation numerous times. I can normally be found on Christmas Eve running from shop to shop like some stressed, crazed headless chicken as I try to beat the clock and find my son those perfect gifts (thankfully I’ve done my crazy chicken run already this year)!

As you all know little man is a whizz on a games console and is pretty fond of his PS3. With this he reviewed a couple of the latest PS3 games.

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Rise of the Guardians Video Game (PS3)

Let kids imaginations run wild as they enter the magic land of make believe in Rise of the Guardians (based on the Dreamworks film animation). Kids choose to be a magical childhood Guardian from characters including: North (aka Santa Claus), Tooth (aka the Tooth Fairy), Bunnymund (aka the Easter Bunny), Sandman, and Jack Frost. Each Guardian has their own set of upgradable and extraordinary powers that will help you take on the evil spirit “Pitch” and his infectious nightmares. Along the way.
As you progress through the realms treasure can be found and various mini quests undertaken to help level-up your characters and pry the fingers of Pitch from children’s minds.
These include freeing children from cages guarded by all sorts of nightmarish creatures to time-based defending quests where you frantically fight off a horde of evil spirits hell-bent on harming a stranded child.

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kids can unlock new powers and spellbinding moves that increase each character’s strength and skills throughout the game.

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There is also the option of a drop-in-and-out team up multiplayer mode that allows players to swap between any of the characters in drop-in-and-out four-player squad based multiplayer action on consoles. This basically means you can switch characters which is great as this allows you to experience each one therefore learning what each can do to assist you throughout the game.

Little man is 12 and really enjoys the game. It did take some getting used to but he got into it fairly quickly. Little man explained that his first task was to convince Jack Frost to join his Guardians on their quest to defeat the evil that is pitch. From here on he then needed to defeat a number of Pitch’s evil allies.

I’ve quite enjoyed watching him play and review this animation game. Ive watched as his explored each of the Guardians imaginative worlds from the Tooth’s Palace to North’s Workshop. If your hoping for a game that involves a jolly Santa in a red suit that runs around with a load of cute Elfs than you may be disappointed. The rise of the guardians is made up of iconic children Legends with an edgy twist.

The Graphics are great and although the music can become somewhat annoying, The Rise of the Guardians is in our opinion a great game for a child aged 12+

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Rise of the Guardians is available to purchase now from all good game stockists & is available for the PS3, DS, 3DS, Wii and XBox 360

Ben 10 Omniverse video game on PS3

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This game is sure to delight any Ben 10 fan. Based on the new Cartoon Network series of Ben 10 Omniverse, children can play as both Ben in the past “Young Ben” as well as that of Ben in the present”Teen Ben”
The game offers 2 player mode allowing Ben to work together with Rook (a brand new character to the series) to defeat the evil plans of a villain who’s ultimate mission is to defeat the world.

Rook, Ben 10s newest sidekick, will fight alongside Ben using his Proto-Tool, a high tech multi-functional weapon that turns into a Blaster, Power Sword, Quantum Staff, or Grappler.

The game is fast paced, offering players an assortment of action-packed levels that have been set in various show-inspired settings like the subterranean alien city of undertown.

Little man really found the game exciting and given his not a massive Ben10 fan this surprised me.

He told me that each level offered something new. Each equally exciting yet challenging in its own way meaning he wasn’t easily bored. He also explained that the game allows you to switch forms and battle as one of 13 playable alien heroes, including never-before-seen aliens like Bloxx and Gravattack.

Alfie, little man’s cousin who is also on the autism spectrum found himself captivated by the game. The boys have enjoyed engaging themselves in some serious gameplay as they have come together as Ben10 and Rook helping one another through each level as they play in 2 player mood.

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Ben 10 Omniverse is available to purchase now from all good game stockists & is available for the PS3, DS, 3DS, Wii/WiiU and XBox 360

Monopoly Zapped (Compatible with iPhone, iPod and iPad)

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What Hasbro have to say about the game…

“MONOPOLY Zapped Edition is an amazing new game experience from Hasbro. Now you can bring your favorite game to life with loads of awesome mini games on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.

Landed in Jail? No problem! Just play the Get out of Jail app mini game…if you can launch Mr MONOPOLY over the prison walls to his getaway car, you’re free!

Plus you can transfer MONOPOLY dollars directly to your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch using your own personal Touch-banking cards! The whole family will love this exciting new way to play MONOPOLY!

Play MONOPOLY and your iPad together!”

Little man has had the game a month or so put has only just played it as things have been so hectic.

He was actually lucky enough to win an iPad on the school reward system Vivo, who ran an online raffle. With this he downloaded the monopoly app from Apple app store and we put the game through its paces.

Their is no questioning it, this is monopoly on a whole new level. Gone are the days of your basic game board and plying pieces. Technology means monopoly is now compatible with smart phones and iPads… innovative it really is.

We loved the mini games and the whole concept of escaping jail. Banking becomes electronic with each player having its own electronic bank card. This is great though it does take away that little bit of educational magic that monopoly brings with it.

But we are moving with the times and there is no disputing the fact that the digitally interactive game experience is a great one!

Available from all gone toy stores for around £25.

Giant Pass The Pigs

GIANT Pass The Pigs

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Giant Pass the pigs is a groovy game, one that myself and the kids have had loads of fun playing.

GIANT Pass The Pigs (RRP £14.99) has been designed for children of the ages 8+ and the game is for 2 players.

This game of Pass pigs is like no other. The pigs are of the giant type, simply Inflate your pair of porkers, throw them and see how they land. Will you get a Leaning Jowler, a Mixed Combo or will you Pig Out

The pigs are of the huge inflatable type, so there really is no little parts to contend with (every mothers dream). The game can be played both in and outdoors, just ensure you have a lot of space so nothing gets broken.

We love the family game and welcome it onto our santas little helpers Christmas gift list. I found it to be perfect for little man. He had lots of fun dashing the pigs around the garden, there really is no skill involved yet it does help better a child’s gross motor skills.

Just remember to keep them away from any toddlers who may try and use the inflatable pokers as a space hopper.

Available from all good UK toy stores for around £14.99

So there is our round up! Whether its a game for a console, an innovative iPad compatible game or a good old fashion hands on traditional family game, I hope we have helped to give you a little inspiration.

What Children With Aspergers Really Want For Christmas

5 Dec

Now, I’m not about to go all soppy by stating “That all our children with aspergers really want for Christmas is an appropriate school place and less judgement”because that wouldn’t be true.

Like any child, children with autism and Aspergers have their own interest, hobbies and Christmas wish list.

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Every single year in the lead up to Christmas I find that many new readers find my blog as a result of googling terms such as “What to buy the child with Aspergers for Christmas” or “Gift ideas for children with autism and sen”

Every year we do the ‘Santa’s Little Helpers’ feature where the children showcase and review some toys. This year I’ve been a bit busier than other years so the feature has been on a much lower scale than previous. However, any review that little man does tends to get pretty high page views for the above reasons.

Over the years little mans Christmas list has been anything other than average… Its featured many a bizarre item, from padlocks to safes, batteries to working shop tills. One year we even got a request for a whole crate of fizzy drinks.

This year as he approaches his teen years the list seems somewhat more “normal” in terms of its contents. Well, that’s except for the request to hang out with Drew McIntyre his WWE idol and that of a life sized 4D simulator (needless to say both requests are somewhat out of my reach)! As you can see, Little man isn’t the type of child who scores the Argos catalog for ideas.

With this, I thought it would be interesting to pop over to my Facebook page “A boy with Aspergers” and ask some of the members there what their child with Aspergers has requested for Christmas whether this year or in past years.

Its important to remember that despite any diagnosis, all children with Aspergers have different likes and dislikes, yet unsurprising the results show lost of similarities.

Firstly – LEGO seems to be that of the biggest contender, especially when it comes to boys on the spectrum. Many will know that my little man started to discover the joys of LEGO a few years back and as a result it featured heavily on last years Christmas list and has subsequently made a return this year.

Many of the members over on the ‘A boy with Aspergers’ Facebook page state that their child has either asked for Lego StarWars, Lego Hero’s or just LEGO full stop.

One member told me “Anytime people ask my son what present he wants for any occasions they will get the answer in number form. Because my son’s world revolves around LEGO and its not a ‘Lego truck’ its the model number 4435 or whatever the number maybe”

Other answers highlight that younger children on the spectrum have developed obsessional interests in super heroes with Batman being one child’s special interest for the past 6 years. This child’s Christmas list consists off Batman Merchandise and again LEGO.

It’s also apparent from reading members replies that as their children have aged many of the their requests have changed and now focus on technology. Xbox and PS3 appears a number of times with one member mentioning the new Book of Spells which little man is currently reviewing and thinks is wonderful.

Some members stated how their child wanted to connect with others online to play games over that of the PS3 or Xbox networks. I can relate to this as since little man got his PS3 in October for his birthday, he has discovered the joy of connecting with friends (mainly our extended family) to play against them on FIFA or WWE.

Another big contender was of course the IPad. Is it any surprise? Even I’m wishing for the latest iPad.

Most of the members on the page that took part in the discussion, are parents to boys on the spectrum but a few parents to girls were also happy to share their daughters wish list. One of the page admins shared that her daughter has actually asked for a fridge for her bedroom where another member stated that her daughter wanted money so she could bank it. Yes, this little girl wants her own farm in the middle of nowhere and is already saving for it (and no, I’m not talking about a plastic toy farm but that of an actual farm). Another little girl has asked for a unicorn pillow, slippers and a Star Wars DVD box set (which seems to be popular with both the girls and the boys).

Another item that reappeared more than once was that of spy items such as spy pens and night vision goggles. Again, I can relate as Little man is in love with a spy watch that has a dictaphone and secretly video records (yes, it does actually tell the time too)!

In terms of the more bizarre items here’s some that made me giggle…

Magnets (boy)
A Custard Doughnut (boy 5)
Feather Duster (little girl)
Farm In the Middle of Nowhere ( girl 11)
Cell Phone & Pocket Knife (boy 5)
Electric Leaf Blower (boy 6)
Pyjamas With Feet (boy 9)
To Be Just Like Santa Himself (boy)
Lottery Ticket/Scratch card (boy 7)
Fridge in bedroom (girl 10)
A white keyboard without computer (boy)

Biggest Contenders

LEGO
MOBILE PHONES
IPADS
SPY TOYS
STAR WARS
WWE
TRAIN SETS
PS3
XBOX
LAPTOPS
LASERS
HOTWHEELS
HARRY POTTER
SUPER HEROS (Batman etc)
SONIC
JAMES BOND DVDS
SKYLANDERS

Ooo… I almost forgot one… Mindcraft seems to be on everyone’s most wanted list too!

Special Thank You – This post was put together with the help from members of the Facebook page ‘A Boy With Aspergers’ Thank you so much to those who took part in the discussion.
Claire- Louise. Xx

Help a child with Autism communicate with the world they live in

3 Jun

So, I was on twitter recently (nothing new there I know) when I came across a very interesting tweet from one of my new followers.

The tweet in question contained a link to a very interesting website and article focused around a campaign that is aiming to help children with autism by providing them with a way to communicate with the world they live in! Here’s how.

With your help a child with autism can be given the tools needed to better communicate their needs, making the world a much easier place for them to live in.

The charity making this happen is “Hearts & Minds Challenge

They don’t need you to give funds, they don’t want your money, all they need is your old mobile phones, even those that are no longer working!

Here’s what the charity had to say!

Once upon a time, a mobile phone was a status symbol, a way to tell the world that you were so important that people had to be able to reach you all the time. Nowadays a mobile is a necessity, but we still like to have the latest model with features that can improve our daily life.

Now; when you want to trade up your old phone, you could be helping someone with Autism to communicate their basic needs and for the first time, truly express what they want. And the phone doesn’t even have to be working to help….

Autism is a developmental disability which typically affects social interaction, imagination and the ability to communicate. Half of all people diagnosed will have severely delayed speech and as a result, can become frustrated, leading to behavioral challenges and social exclusion.

In the past, these individuals could be taught to use picture exchange communication or “pecs” a system of handing over a picture to request an item. Thus replacing that negative behaviour with a vocabulary of different pictures, all of which have a huge value to the individual. They are prompted to try to say each word and can slowly learn to speak independently with the picture system as support.

However, at least a 1/4 of all people diagnosed with Autism will have to use an alternative communication system for life, which can become very unwieldy as their vocabulary grows.
They must also rely on carers and therapists to update and maintain the system, so they never have independent control of what they want to say.

There are electronic picture devices, but the vocabulary is static, the devices bulky and expensive and the individual cannot express exactly what they want.

However, thanks to the development of a simple App, which recreates the picture system in a digital format, so called ‘non-verbal’ people can communicate exactly what they want on an Apple iPod or iPad. The Grace App, named after the little girl who inspired it is a basic picture vocabulary in a digital format which the user selects then shares to communicate what they want. Most importantly, they can actually add to their pictures themselves using the device camera, or google and save an image if they cannot find and photograph what they need.

Lisa, who created the Grace App says:
“Just because someone is not yet talking, it doesn’t mean they have nothing to say”

Lisa said the App has allowed Grace to express herself clearly and her frustration and tantrums, which could last for hours are now vastly reduced.
“Grace is also interacting with us a lot more, and I’m delighted to hear her using her own voice, as her speech continues to improve”

There are a lot of families that could benefit from trying out Grace or one of the many Apps developed to support the needs of people with autism – but they need the device to use it. This is a big commitment for a family who may have limited means, and a lot of demands on their income due to the pressures of raising a child with Autism.

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Hearts and Minds are a charity with a mission to raise the quality of life of individuals with autism have come up with a scheme to turn old mobiles into new technology like the Apple iPad, while raising funds towards opening an Education Centre For Autism in Greater Manchester.

To help: Go through your drawers and cupboards and clear out all those old mobiles that are taking up space, contact the school and donate those devices in the envelopes provided. Not only will you be giving a child with autism the chance to communicate, but you will go into a draw to get your mortgage paid for a year – who wouldn’t like that?

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Once I read the above I just had to write this post and share this great campaign with my readers.

I also found a great video on the Hearts and Minds website that really does share a strong message with the world on what a difference we can make by donating our old mobile phones. The video shows a selected number of children with autism using their iPad at home or in school. Attached is a message from the families of these children who state what a remarkable difference the iPad has made to their child’s life.

Warning… The video is a real tear jerker! I sobbed all over my iPhone!

I was actually about to write a sponsored post for a company that specialises in recycling mobile phones, saving the environment and making us a bit of extra cash in the process. Then I read about ‘Hearts and Minds’ who are not only saving the planet but helping a child with autism to communicate. Of course it’s Ok to recycle your mobile for cash, especially if you have little… We all need some extra pennies sometimes. But remember this charity are happy to take any mobile phone, regardless of the state it’s in… Broken, old, “a brick” it really doesn’t matter!

Thankfully my son is verbal and actually speaks very well! However he does have an array of communication difficulties and even for him such technology is a godsend. Little man attends a special school and as part of an OT programme he is now learning to touch type, his fine motor skills are very poor and his handwriting hardly legible. An iPad is on the Birthday list and it’s something I’d purchase with the knowledge of knowing that for little man it’s so much more than a fancy handheld tablet.

I hope that others will read this and next time they open a draw to discover an old dusty mobile they remember this post and therefore remember that for a child with autism that dusty mobile is a door that opens into a world of communication!

Remember families and schools wanting to register for the programme can do so over on the hearts and minds website

For more information on the programme visit Grace App or Hearts and Minds to see if you can help give a child with autism a way to communicate.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored or guest post. I have not been asked to write this and have not received anything for sharing this information. I have done so as a way to help a charity on their mission to help others.

Story Telling With The Easter Bunny

5 Apr

If you’re looking for one great alternative to the “Typical” Chocolate Easter Egg, then I have it right here !

Abigail the adorable floppy eared bunny is the latest addition to the Hallmark ‘Story Buddy’ range.

The super soft, super cute Abigail joins her friends ‘Watson’ the Racoon, ‘Cooper’ the Bear and ‘Jingle’ the Husky as the fourth addition to an already fabulous range of Story Buddy’s and what’s more Abigail isn’t just an adorable bunny but she’s also a female one, making her the first girlie buddy of the range.

Story Buddy’s are more than just your “Typical” cuddly toy, but an interactive, innovative friend, designed to bring the magic to your child’s story time.

Like all buddies, Abigail comes complete with her own beautifully illustrated book “Abigail and the balance beam’s” that tells the story of how Abigail tries to make her mother extra proud of her by performing gymnastics.

As yourself or child read aloud specific passages from the book, Abigail will suddenly start to interact, creating a totally magical reading experience

Unfortunately, things have been a little hectic here what with us all being unwell at some point or another, the decorating of more than one room and my Mac becoming buried someplace within in the mess of it all, we therefore didn’t get to film this one! However, leading up to Christmas last year, we did review Abigail’s super cute racoon friend Watson via video in which your more than welcome to have a peek if desired.

An unwell Alice-Sara was pleased to have her story buddy to cuddle last week

Abigail truly is an adorable bunny with a lot to say. My daughter Alice-Sara 9, fell in love with her instantly, she’s also proved something of a big hit within the family as the toddler can hardly contain himself and therefore keep his hands to himself.

Dressed in her pretty pink dancers custom, she’s not only innovative but pretty stylish too.

Lot’s of fun can be had with Abigail and any of her friends, plus you’ll never become bored, not when Hallmark have created a range of additional story books especially designed for each character and priced at 5.99 each.

If that’s not exciting enough, those with iPads and iPhones can download the fabulous free app from the app store to accompany the adorable bunny. The app includes a short animated story that can be played aloud through the app’s internal narrator or even recorded by a loved one to add a special personal touch to the story telling experience. Also included on the app, are a selection of child-friendly puzzles and interactive games that allow your child to dress up Abigail, just like in the story book.

Its official, we are a Story Buddy loving household, what with our latest addition ‘Abigail’ the Bunny who is now housed alongside Watson the Racoon and Cooper the bear, don’t be too surprised if you find some more lovely story buddies moving in during the year as there are new releases planned for later in 2012.Harley the toddler with another of the buddies ‘Cooper the Bear’

These really are genius, a hit with all three of my children, with each owning a buddy of their own and enjoying reading alongside them regularly.

These are also great for the child on the autism spectrum and those with special educational needs. It was Little man who put Watson to the test during our video review last year and I found it helped to install confidence when reading aloud.

Cute, innovative, interactive, fun, educational and doesn’t rot your little ones teeth, what more could you ask for in an alternative Easter gift?

Abigail the Bunny can be brought in branches of Hallmark as-well as online and falls into the same price racket as her fellow buddies at just £19.99

Check out the Hallmark website & Facebook Page for more information or simply click below to watch the promotional advertisement from Hallmark!

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