Tag Archives: occupational therapy

Tips – Parenting a Child With Olfactory Dysfunction (Hypersensitivity to Smell)

9 Feb

Children on the autism spectrum often have traits of SPD (sensory processing disorder) which could affect any one, if not all of their seven senses.

In my last blog post I gave some tips on parenting a child with Tactile Defensiveness (Hypersensitivity to touch) today I want to write about Olfactory Dysfunction (Hypersensitivity to smells).

Its important to note that not all children with sensory processing problems will be hypersensitive to sensory stimulus. Some children will experience under sensitivity (under responsive to certain sensory stimulus). Where others, like Little man, can experience both.

Yes, in some areas, our Little man is known as a Sensory Seeking” But though this is true we have found that he is more hypersensitive than under sensitive, especially when it comes down to tactile stimulus.

Although little man does have difficulties with all off his senses, olfactory (smell) fortunately, is one of the least challenging (well, compared to that of his tactile senses). Nonetheless, it does still make things difficult for him. Luckily, Little man is given Occupational therapy as part of his statement and as a result he is learning ways to deal with certain types of hypersensitivity. However, he hasn’t always undergone Occupational therapy and as a parent I’ve had to learn what his triggers are and how to avoid heightening them.

Tip: Change Washing Powders!

If you use a highly Fragrance washing powered, this could well be a tigger for your child’s meltdowns. Try using sensitive washing powders that are fragrance free. I found that the fairy washing powder works well for us.

Tip: Reduce The Amount Of Perfume You Wear When You Are With Your Child.

I used to wear a certain perfume that drove the Little man nuts. It actually gave him headaches so I didn’t have a choice but to stop wearing it in his company. The fact it wasn’t cheap and priced at the higher end of the market made no difference to little man. Seriously… It was, and still is my favourite scent ever! yet I can hardly ever wear it!

Tip: Experiment with foods

Your child may say he/she doesn’t like a certain type of food without even tasting it! Little man could so easy be put off something simply due to the way it smelt. Sometimes its better to use different cooking techniques as some ways of cooking certain foods let of less smells than others. We could never cook scrambled eggs with little man in the house. Even his sister or brother eating a bag of wootsits or other cheesy snack within distance of him would set him off.

I’ve found that certain brands of the same food are less fragrant than others. Sometimes its just better to avoid certain foods altogether, other times I cook them when little man is out of the house.

Tip: Natural Cleaning products

Not only is it cheaper to make your own cleaning products but for a parent who’s child is hypersensitive to certain smells, it can be a way of removing a meltdown trigger. Using lemons and vinegar mixed with borax and bicarbonate of soda makes a great solution to tackle household dirt and grime. Fresh lemons will provide a fresh scent throughout the home, that isn’t too over powering for your child.

Tip: A Good Sensory Diet

Use different scents together to create fun sensory play. A good idea is to gather certain objects together, make the child close their eyes and then guess what the item is your holding simply by smelling it. Of course there will be smells they are hypersensitive too but this way you won’t only discover which smells they cannot tolerate, but those they like too. This means you could then try introducing more of these scents into the home. Maybe you discover that they like the scent of strawberry! You could then replace air freshners with this scent. Plus, by playing such games regularly your child could adapt to certain smells, therefore reacting to them much less in the future. Make sensory games fun, offering certain rewards for correct guesses making children more inclined to want to play.

Tip: Good Social Skills Training

This may seem odd but in fact its very relevant. Children on the autism spectrum can be quite abrupt! They have this tendency to say what it is they are thinking out loud. This is regardless of whether its Inappropriate to do so or regardless of hurting someone’s feelings. Basically if they think you smell funny then nine out of ten times they are gonna inform you you of it, no matter who’s listening! It may be simply because a friend is wearing a perfume they don’t like or maybe the teacher has bad breath. Teaching a child when its OK to say things can help reduce social problems.

Little man got into really big trouble at mainstream school when he told the head teacher that his breath smelt like a dogs… so could he please not talk close to his face. The fact the whole school was gathered in the hall really didn’t help the situation whatsoever.

Social skills training is beneficial for the child on the autism spectrum for countless reasons… This is just one of them.

Fun with Scribble Down

28 Feb

As a child I loved nothing more than embarking on a creative task, and to be honest, I still love to get creative whenever time permits. 

Out of all three of my children, it would seem that my daughter is the most creative, like me she loves art. However, I try to get Little man involved in creative task as often as possible, I feel it works as a great therapy like tool for his Aspergers syndrome, as it provides a calming effect. Creative and arty projects are also a great way to improve his OT skills, including that of his fine motor skills

Last week we were sent some very creative little projects to try from Craft and Play. These crafty little packs are called Scribble Down and have been created around the famous illustrations of ‘Clinton Banbury’ an artist who’s illustrations have been around some 30 years and have featured in some classic children’s stories and workbooks, as well as a weekly series of cartoons for the Times

Scribble Down, are sets of fantastic transfer activity packs, that allow children to create magical scenes with the use of a supplied background card and dozens of Clinton Banbury’s transferable images. What’s even better, these activity packs are a steal at pocket-money prices. 

There are lots of activity packs to choose from, there’s quirky animals, fantastic fairies, excitable pirates and many more! We received Clinton Banbury’s Fairy Cake Factory, consisting of  funky fairies, cupcakes and bakers. Others we received, were, Dinosaur encounter and Wild Adventures, which were equally as great with a host of transferable dinosaurs and wild wacky animals.

Each pack also come with its own mini tip, which consists of 6 easy steps teaching your child how to draw one of the characters from the activity pack so kids can create their own Clinton Banbury comic strips.

The children couldn’t wait to get started, these came complete with simple instructions that consists of both words and pictures (The visual aspect was ideal for Little man as his mostly a visual learner). 

To create the scene, all you have to do is remove the backing paper from the transfer sheet, select the image you want to place on the background scene placing it so the image is face down, then using a pen scribble over the chosen image. Remove the transfer sheet slowly, simply revealing the chosen image now on your scene. To give it a protective covering so it doesn’t peel off, use the backing paper and rub again.  

Alice didn’t use a pen, she opted to use a coin as she didn’t want to scribble on the paper, which is fine, however, the idea behind using a pen, ensures the whole image has been scratched and no bits get left behind when you remove the sheet.

Little man has quite poor fine motor skills and not a lot of patience, so did make a few mistakes. However, with some encouragement and practice he did fine, though he came back and finished later as his attention span is much shorter than your average child. 

Both Alice and Little man had fun creating their scenes (toddler is a tad to young at two to get involved). Alice did two of the cards straight of, and as mentioned, Little man did one over the course of a few days, but enjoyed it all the same. 

These are great value for money at £2.89 each. These are also great for the development and enhancement of a child’s imagination, as well as being a good way to improve a child’s fine motor skills 

They are brilliant and most defiantly worth buying for your creative little one’s, though watch out, you may find yourself have a sneaky go!

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Dycem mats have a use for everything

8 Nov

We recently agreed to do a review of the Dycem baby and child range who have an awesome range of non-slip mats designed to help make life that bit easier at feeding and playtime’s.

We were sent a pretty funky Dycem non-slip mat which was shaped as a hippo and was dark blue in colour. The mat has non slip technology and is designed to assist families in a number of areas.

We used the Dycem mat for Harley at dinner time, placing it on his high chair tray. The mat didn’t only look great, with its Hippo design, making dinner times fun, but it also done its job by stopping Harley’s plate from sliding all over the tray while he tries to master the scooping up of his food with his fork. Seriously its hard enough for my bubba as he is just developing the skills needed to feed himself as the development of his fine motor skills progress, without having his dish run away with his spoon.

The Dycem mat is a fantastic product and really stops this from happening, meaning there is more pasta in his mouth and less of the floor for the cats.

However it’s not just the toddler finding use of the Dycem mat, its been great for Little man (aka A boy with Aspergers) too.

As some of you will know Little man is under an occupational therapist and his fine motor skills are just one of the reasons why this is.
I’ve found the Dycem hippo mat to be a really useful tool for him, and he seems to agree, given his always using it now. Little man is really into construction sets especially LEGO, given his difficulties with fine motor skills, he often has trouble building things. His been using the Dycem hippo mat and it’s made a real difference. His no longer sliding all over the place, knocking down what his built as he tries to construct the next piece. He recently built a Kreo bumblebee car and used this mat to make the whole experience easier and more enjoyable. Little man actually request the uses of the mat every-time the Lego comes out, so doesn’t that show the benefit it has?

The overall aim of Dycem is to stabilise objects, hold objects firmly in place and provide a better grip.
It’s my opinion that it does exactly that, and does it very well.

Dycem non-slip mats are reusable, easy to clean , non toxic, latex and adhesive free.

There are a huge number of uses for Dycem non-slip products, some being, Occupational Therapy, Catering, Home and leisure & more.

You can even get this stuff on reels, its super grip and non slip technology makes it ideal for opening stubborn jars etc. Dycem has many uses just check out the website to see some great examples.

I really liked the Dycem Children’s range the colours and designs are fun and visually stimulating. The price is a tad high, though it is excellent quality.

You can by this particular mat in the colours Blue, Red, Yellow & Forest Green, It’s 35 cm x 25 cm in size, comes in Hippo or tortoise design and cost: £18.90 (ex Vat)

Click Here for product information 

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A step in the right direction for autism thanks to Anna Kennedy

21 Oct

I recently contacted Anna Kennedy as I read about a new dance DVD she had developed for children with autism and aspergers syndrome

 Anna’s DVD, ‘Step in the right direction’ has been produced in association with the world-famous, ‘Pineapple performing Arts school’ in London and a selection of children from the Hillingdon Manor school who each have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

 Anna was kind enough to send me a copy of the DVD to review with my Little man.

 Little man used to love to dance but as his grown older he does it less and less. I thought it would be great to try to encourage him to give it another go.

Little man is a child who requires a certain amount of Occupational therapy (OT) due to his difficulties with both his fine and gross motor skills, including varying areas off his co-ordination. 

 Once I had received the DVD I decided to watch it while little man was at school, just so I could get a taste for what it was all about before finally introducing it to the Little guy himself. 

 This DVD has been broken up into manageable pieces allowing you to skip between sections.

 Part 1

Introduction by Anna Kennedy

Anna Kennedy


 Anna Kennedy, founder of Hillingdon Manor school, kicks the off  the DVD with an introduction that sees here shop for pineapple dance wear for the children before heading off to the Pineapple performing arts school in London’s Covent  Garden.

 Part 2

Interviews

 Once here she introduces the viewers to some of the dance instructors at Pineapple including, ‘Maggie Paterson’ (Senior teacher) ‘Jade Flannagan’ (Senior teacher specialising in Street & Break-dance) as well as the schools founder, ‘Debbie Moore’ Anna interviews Maggie & Jade about working with the children and what their expectations were before meeting them.

 Anna, then goes on to interview Debbie who tells us about her incredible journey in fulfilling her dreams when opening what is now the world-famous school of performing arts, while taking us on a trip down memory lane.

Debbie Moore

Lastly all the children introduce themselves alongside Anna who then goes on to get them all warmed up in the third chapter of this dance DVD

 Part 3

Tutorials

This is where we get down to the business and following a great warm up section with Anna and the children, Jade steps in to show us some poppin’ lockin’ & tuttin’ (some really “cool” dance moves). Jade starts by teaching us at home the routine, he does this in easy to follow bite size pieces repeating each section a number of times before finally putting it all together and joining the children where they go on to perform the routine, incorporating some really cool freestyle dance moves, which for me was the highlight to this DVD. 

 It was great to see the children dancing, the enjoyment was clearly shown on each of their faces in the form of a massive smile! 

They are all clearly delighted to be taking part in the making of the DVD and should be extremely proud of themselves and one another for the fabulous routines they participated in and awesome freestyling they displayed. 

 The tutorials are finished off with a cool down with Maggie and the children.

 Section 4

Special features: Britain’s got talent finalist-James Hobley

Anna with James and his mum Sheila

Here Anna meets James and his mother, Sheila Hobley who tells Anna about what life is like for James (how he overcomes many off the difficulties children with autism experience, while fulfilling his ambition and dreams to dance). We learn about the barriers James has overcome and  difficulties he faced while participating in the ‘Britain’s got talent tour’ as-well as his hopes and dreams for the further.

 James goes on to show Anna some of his moves, to which she has a little difficulty keeping up with 🙂

We then get to see a delightful recording of James Hobley’s own routine.

 Lastly Andrew Stone (Star of sky 1 Pineapples dance studios with over 30 years of experience in dance, music and television) works with the children of Hillingdon Manor school on a small and final routine bringing the section to a close. 

 Section 5 &6

Useful Information & Additional Materials 

 In the last two sections 5 & 6 you can discover a little more about two of the sponsors behind the DVD, ‘MedicAlert’ (who Anna helped create the AK autism band) and ‘Childline’ (the UK charity backing Anna’s anti bullying campaign). 

We are then provided with the website address for “Anna Kennedy online” where we can read and download a number of fact sheets about the benefits of autism and dance.

These can be found at Anna Kennedy online.

Click HERE

Our Verdict

 Little man did have a go at the DVD and seemed to enjoy doing so. (He did however get a little upset when I tried to film him so we gave that a miss.) 

 His sister, ‘Alice’ who isn’t on the spectrum also enjoyed taking part, although she did spend half the time catching a glance of her self in the mirror. 

 In my opinion the routines are great! They have been put together in an easy to follow way and are not overly long, resulting in the children actively maintaining concentration throughout

 The music was fantastic, some really great tunes that made me want to shake my bootie too. 

 Anna engages the children in a great warmup routine that both myself and the Little man followed together.

 Jade Flannagan is the perfect choice for the main routine as his young and hip and the children really seem to relate to this guy.

Jade works with the kids really well and keeps them motivated with lots of positive praise and encouragement. One thing I did pick up on was there was no use of the word left and right within the choreography! Instead Jade used visual clues alongside instructions, like, placing a hand on his right arm along with the instruction on what to do, indicating that the children and viewers were to use the right arm. For me, I think this was a good idea, as the children did not become confused at the use of to many instructions at one time.

 The freestyle was the best part for me. I just loved seeing the children demonstrate their moves as their confidence was beaming throughout!

 I would highly recommend this DVD as an introduction into dance for children on the autism spectrum and even those without! I think it’s especially beneficial to those who seek lots of sensory stimulation. Children on the autism spectrum who discover an interest in dance, would benefit both physically and emotionally from such an activity. Such benefits could include, improved co-ordination skills and overall fitness and stamina, improved social interaction skills and the ability to follow more complex instructions, and importantly, development of their self-confidence which may be pretty low for those who have experienced incidents of bullying or isolation. Another excellent benefit that I found was, your child is more likely to sleep better if they follow the routines on the DVD in the evening. I know that Little man slept better on the evening we reviewed the DVD so this must be a great way to get rid off some of that excess energy our children on the spectrum always seem to have.

 The interviews were fantastic but are mainly aimed at the parent, though many children wanting to get into dance could really find themselves inspired by watching Anna’s interview with the fabulous talented James Hobley.

 Thank you Anna Kennedy for providing us with this great DVD.

We loved it!  

You can get a copy of this excellent DVD from Amazon priced at a reasonable £7.99.

Just Click HERE

Cost-free effective ways to help your child on the spectrum

29 Jul

There are so many parents with children on the spectrum that spend thousands of pounds on the new latest therapy said to improve a child’s communication difficulties or their sensory processing needs. Not everyone has the funds for this or any other therapy besides, whether that be speech and language (SALT) or occupational therapy (OT)

So, here are some tips of things you can try that are cost-free and effective. Yet you should note that, 1) Here, you wont find any freebies,  just my little old  tips. 2) I’m not sharing a cure (there isn’t one)!  3) Nothing is a quick fix and finally… 4) Everybody is different, the difficulties mentioned in this post may or may not even affect your child like it does mine. Remember, somethings work better for some then they do for others. 

 Note: You may want to discuss some of the methods below with your child’s doctor to ensure their suitability.   

Roll play to enhance imagination and improve social skills: Play games that require imagination. Shops, is the type of game children love to play and my daughter has shown her brother how to play shops in a non repetitive way. (well, his getting there)! Little man has the mathematical brain so he does all the pricing up and change giving etc…This also teaches important ‘Life skills’ essential to children with social skills problems and difficulty with social interaction. There are other games you can play, like,  Schools or emergency services. Little man always pretends to drive a bus through the game is often repetitive it has still required a certain amount on imagination, which is what we are trying to achieve.    

Body brushing for tactile sensitivity: Body brushing helps children on the spectrum who are sensitive to certain forms of tactile stimulation that can come from a range of different textures. Little man is tactile defensive and has issues when wearing certain items of clothing due to the materials they have been made with. Body brushing is a technique that would normally be carried out by an OT and Little man currently has it  done during his OT sessions at school. However this can be done in the home in addition to an OT programme. (You may wish to get your OTs advice first.) If you’re not in a position to get your child on an OT programme due to funding or because of an inadequate statement of special educational needs, (SEN) but you are fully aware that your child’s over sensitivity to touch, this is something you could do at home on a regular basis. We just lightly brush Little mans arms and legs with different objects of different textures that each give off a different sensation. Good items to try are, body brushes, used for showering and different types of sponges. Body brushing a few times a week for ten minutes a time could make a huge difference to how you child copes and responds when dealing with different tactile experiences.

The guessing game: Another way of helping a child who has tactile sensitivity is again though play! Placing a range of different objects into a large paper bag and getting your children to place their hand in the bag and without looking ravage around and fill for an object. Before pulling the selected object out of the bag, ask your child to describe what it is they can fill out loud so you can hear, e.g… it’s smooth, quite big, round etc…,  etc…. Then continue on by asking your child to guess what it is that they think it is that they are holding. This again gets your child used to different textures while helping them think outside the box. 

Special interest: Encourage your child’s, “Special interest” embrace and celebrate their interest no matter how unusual or strange they may seem. Most people on the spectrum have interest that are somewhat,”Obsessive and a little over powering! If it really is becoming too much and completely dominating their time to the point it affects sleep, school or any other important events then try to limit the time spent on the activity, coming to a compromise! For example, “You can play buses or memorise bus destinations for half hour, then we will bake cakes!” The secret here is to make sure the compromise involves something else they enjoy (Even though it isn’t going to be something as important as that of the, “Special interest” it can still be extremely effective, so…  It’s Worth a try at least! )

Praise: Use lots of praise, if anything, “Over Prise” Catch them doing something good and praise them for it! If your child closes a door as opposed to slamming it as he normally would, praise him at that exact moment, not later but straight away! Trust me it helps!

Social stories: Write social stories to prepare your child for the unexpected or  just  those situations/events that worry them. There are plenty of free resources on the web and there are sites tailored to help you create your own social stories. Taking pictures is always an idea. If writing a social story about visiting the dentist for instance, you can take pictures of the dentist room and even the dentist if he agree. Use them in your social story, helping your child to familiarise themselves with the surroundings in-which you wish them to visit. 

Visual aids: Use visual aids to help your child follow a routine, whether that routine is for the whole day or just part of it! (Bed or bath time.) It can be expensive to purchase  pre-made visual aids so why not make these yourself? Again there are sites that are designed for this, ones that provide free images that are designed for this very purpose. You can also look for your own images by googling, “Free Clipart” be sure to check the terms of download and do not use any images protected by copyright laws. If you are a creative person you could draw your own symbols (this doesn’t have to be anything complicated, draw a bed for bedtime etc…. put the word, “bedtime under the image and cut out in the shape of a square) As with the social stories, you can always take your own photographs, e.g, a TV for telly time, their bed for bedtime the bath for bath time. We didn’t use real life images but a mix of downloaded, printed images and symbols that I drew and photocopied as spares. We used visuals to help maintain a bathroom and bedtime routine! After a while we changed from pictures to words and this works just as well.  

Energy burning exercising for your child: Bouncing, “Yes” Bouncing! Its great fun and takes a lot out of a child. If you have a garden that happens to have a trampoline, then of course this is perfect. I like to get little man jumping on our trampoline, sadly as the novelty wears off over time, he is less keen as he once was! Yet it’s not all about trampolines but about burning your child’s access energy so they are more restful at the times you want them to be, like, “Bed Time” I’m not suggesting you go out and buy a trampoline (that cost money and this post “Isn’t” about money, it’s about doing things to help your child that don’t cost a penny)! With that in mind, why not let your child run out their energy at the local park; go on a bike ride together; if your child does enjoy sport, (some kids on the spectrum do) then play a bit of your chosen sport after dinner. These activities can give the same effects as jumping on the trampoline and there all free!

Art for improvement of motor skills: Try to get your child involved in art, whether that be a drawing, painting or a creation of a “Double Decker Bus” (Yes I’m referring to my own child and his special interest. You could actually use your child’s interest to encourage art!) Art helps with a persons fine motor skills and that of hand-eye co-ordination and is great for all child not just the child on the spectrum. 

Memory games: Some children on the spectrum have poor short time memory (Like remembering an instruction, but more the order that the instruction should be carried out)! Little man has an amazing memory for remembering bus numbers and their destinations. He also has the ability to remember song lyrics very quickly. When it comes to fetching something, like his shoes or something else I’ve asked him to get for me that’s upstairs, you can bet your life on it that his forgotten by the time his reached the third step. Good memory games include, “Go fish” which is a card game and, “Pairs,” another card game. One of the best games we have played is one where we take it in turns to hide two or three items around the house and garden ( you can build up to more items with practice). Then the other person must find them by way of following instructions and clues. The person who has hidden the objects must remember where they have chosen to hide them while giving out instructions on how to locate them to the other person. This not only helps with memory but social interaction and multi-tasking. When your child is taking the turn of the person looking for the objects, they will improve the skills needed to follow a sequence of instructions. This is a game that helps children of all abilities, develop and improve some of our most needed skills ready for adulthood. 

Tracing: We have a light box that both Little man and his sister use to trace pictures on. Yes, Little man just wants to trace buses, but who cares, like I said before, “Embrace” their interest! To trace a picture does wonders for a child’s fine motor skills and can be done without a light box,  just a few sheets of good tracing paper alone. 

Money box: Help your child get rid  of the unwanted language/behaviour for good! Do this by, deducting pennies from their pocket-money. The trick here is to make your own simple money-box by using a clear container, slitting a hole in the top to drop the pennies into. They are then able to see the pennies mounting and it’s likely to make a bigger impact. If I tell my son his lost a £1 of his pocket-money on Friday, it just doesn’t sink in! Why? Because it’s just words! Like many kids on the spectrum, Little man needs things, (even sanctions) to be visual and this is! This is only our first day trying this out, but I’ve heard it works for some and I’m taking this approach with Little man and his sister as I know it will also have some benefit on her too (I must add she doesn’t swear but lately hasn’t been too worried about giving mum a little attitude)! There is also the option in allowing your child the chance to be rewarded with pennies being redeemed from the box for behaviour that is consistent with your expectations (The trick here is not to make it an easy solution as this may seem like you’re giving in to their demands)! I will report on our process over the coming months.

Sensory seekers: Make your own play dough as many children with autism seem to love this stuff, not only is it fun creating stuff with it but many kids like the texture, the way it feels when playing with it. Note Be careful they don’t eat it, Little man once did! (Though home made dough is non toxic so don’t panic if they do)!

Record and Monitor: Create your own diary as to record the foods your child is eating. Analyse the graph and try to establish if there are any patterns that give clue to any triggers for challenging behaviour, anxiety or sleep difficulties. There are many food ingredients in our everyday diet that can send a child on the spectrum spinning out of control. This form of documenting can be applied in other ways like, the recording and monitoring of meltdowns to establish a trigger(s). Over a period of time this could potentially reduce the number of  blow ups your child engages in!

Adjust your language: Its simple and effective! Avoid the use of ambiguous language! Speak clearly saying exactly what you mean! This avoids misunderstanding. Metaphors are a big No, No in our house, (when they slip out, I pay dearly).

Reward: Positive behaviour should be rewarded continually! This can be given in tokens allowing your child to collect and work towards something special (like a game they have wanted for some time, etc.). This is something we have done with Little man and his new school continue to do this. So far so good! (Just look at last weeks post, A little inspiration’) 

Offer alternatives: If like little man your child has a tendency to use fail language to the point it’s extremely worrying and not to mention embarrassing then try this! We have told Little man to use alternative words like, “Duck Off” or “You Witch” (‘Duck’ in replacement of the “F” word and ‘Witch’ in replacement of the “B” word) Yer, yer, I know it sounds silly! That’s what Little man said! But you see, Little man can be very grown up or very immature, every time he said Duck off, he would burst out laughing making him want to use the Duck word more! We still have a very long road ahead. Swearing has been a massive issue with little man for a long, long time now! 

 Independence: Remember your child will grow to be an adult just like all children do. Allow your child independence as they grow. Small steps that gradually increase to bigger ones, “Yes it’s harder when your child has social communication problems” but that don’t mean to say you should stand over them all of the time! (Of course this statement depends on the degree of autism your child may have.)  

Thank you WoodenToyShop Love Little Man

16 Jul

  It’s been a great first month, which is all down to the WoodenToyShop!

 For those who read the blog on a regular basis, will know that my daughter was featured as our first little helper in the blogs new feature, ‘ Santa’s Little Helpers’ that showcases some of the best and hottest toys form July to December! These little elf’s otherwise known as my three children will fully put all toys and gadgets to the test then give you their honest opinion and overall rating in-order to create the best Christmas wish list to be found online! Giving us her thoughts & inspirational craft ideas when reviewing the Melissa and Doug friendship stamp set from the WoodenToyShop, I found myself very proud of her professional approach when it came to being a toy reviewer (given that she’s only eight, over-excitement was kept to a minimum)

This week our Little helper is the one and only Little Man himself, sharing his thoughts on the… WAIT FOR IT…. DRUM ROLL PLEASE… “Children’s Large Wooden Cricket Set” from the fabulous online toy retailer, ‘WoodenToyShop’ I must state that  I did find this an odd choice what with the  fact he would have done almost anything to avoid a game of Cricket in the past! 

When the WoodenToyShop kindly invited us to pick something from the online catalogue I didn’t dream Little man would request they send him out a cricket set! It took him just seconds to score the content on the site before finally shouting, “Yes, this one please mum” I remember thinking, “What on earth…”For one I was stunned that he had spent so little time choosing! This is normally something that takes him some hours… admittedly he does get this from his mother, which only highlights my confusion that little bit more! The choice of a cricket set baffled me and for this reason I admit I didn’t email my choices right away giving it a few extra days convinced he would change his mind… If anything I would have bet money on it that this was going to happen sometime in the next few hours! However… realising that in-fact my son who has Aspergers syndrome, was in fact looking forward to the arrival of his new “Cricket Set” I got ordering, FAST… while secretly praying for a fast delivery given my delay he was already getting impatient. 

As his mother I then made the decision to embrace my sons optimistic attitude and over all willingness to try his hand at something new!

You may now ask yourselves, “What the hell has this got to do with the review of a cricket set?” when you go on to read the next part of this post, I promise, Its relevant, so stick with it! 

Some few months back I took the Little Man for an Occupational therapy assessment in London’s Harley street, where he was asked to perform a number of task requiring a demonstration of his ball skills. This would show the assessor how good he was at using his upper body “upper co-ordination” The Assessor would set a number of challenges to establish what difficulties if any, he has with both fine and gross motor skills and that of his sensory processing! Little man went ballistic, “I’m not doing this, its stupid!” he unpleasantly stated. I sat patiently as the assessor gave it her all trying to convince him to participate in the activities asked. I made a suggestion to which I so rudely received a one finger gesture before he slang me out the door. My son hated to be asked to do something if he knew it was something he struggled with. He would fall to pieces and panic. I could hear him so stubbornly  refusing, shouting, “You think because I have Aspergers I can’t do it! I hate all off you” Two hours passed before we finally left Harley street and headed home.

 All three toys arrived together I watched my daughter grab hers and disappear while I opened baby Harley’s (coming soon) However, Little man continued to watch the TV, he seemed to have lost interest… I feared this would happen! Two days later I came down and there it was hanging out it’s box, just as it was the day it arrived! Yes, I understood better then anyone that Little man could be an impulsive buyer, but he had continued to remain positive up in till the day the toys arrived.

Day 4… and the cricket set is still sat lonely and untouched in its box! Day 5 and movement was looking slim as I discovered it still sat there in its box getting dusty. With this I decided to leave it be for one more day, at a push two, then I would return the product, that or ask a family member or child’s friend to do the review, either way it seemed that little man wasn’t even going to look at the thing let alone review it. 

Day 6… I went into the hall to package up the cricket set and drop it at the post office before early closing in-order to send it back to it’s rightful owner but….

 “It was gone!”

 Following the faint sound of thumping I ended up in the garden where I stood, jaw on the floor and feet rooted to the ground… I saw my Little man stood there in his pyjamas swinging his bat back and forth, forcefully hitting the little red ball against the brick wall that was just about holding up this old house. He occasionally ran side to side as not to allow the ball out of his sight, trying hard not to miss. My little man couldn’t see me stood there tears in my eyes. The cricket set from the WoodenToyShop turned out to be so much more then a review of a toy, but it provided me with an insight and valuable lesson, “Have more faith in what your child can do!” I’ve always believed in him but from what I saw at the OT assessment and throughout the past I stupidly drew to the conclusion that he wouldn’t be that good a cricketer just as his mother isn’t! Shame on me!!

He was out there some hours, spending time on both his transport fascination and practising his ball skills. I kept going to the kitchen window to grab a peek and felt my heart leap with pride with every single trump of the ball against the rattling wall. He had a smile so huge, I melted… Deciding not to trigger any challenges I decided not to snap a picture in fear of being caught and didn’t even ask him to give any feed back on his new toy in fear of being told to sod off so I waited patiently just as I did at that OT assessment at Harley street. 

Day 8, I found this next to my bed…

“Dear Mangers of the woodentoyshop, thank you for sending me your cricket set. I really like it, its solid which is a good thing as I loath toys made of plastic, maybe that’s why mum thinks your a great toy shop. I didn’t like the colour of the ball and think you should make black ones. but that’s just an opinion rather than criticism. The ball did bounce off the way displaying amazing speed, I’m quite good and only missed a few times! My mum thinks I can’t do it because she has never seen me do it, she tells me I can do a lot of things and is always proud of me and my sister and brother but I’ve been practising for a long time with my school tutor who I miss because I now go to school, “The best school” The lady in London who mum took me to see, asked me to do this almost ruining my mum’s surprise! I even kicked her out the room, it was crazy! 

My score 1 Only joking 3… Joking again! 10 is my final answer, thank you WoodenToyShop Love XXXXXX XXXXX aka Little man.”

Shocked I grabbed my phone to call the OT but remembered it was the weekend which meant it wouldn’t be open! I checked my emails for her report  but was quite sure it wouldn’t be there as yet, it was to soon maybe! How could I possibly wait till Monday to make contact? Then right at the bottom of my inbox  I discovered an unopened email with an attachment, realising it was sat there unopened in my inbox… just like the cricket set and for almost the same length of time. 

I downloaded and opened it, It was the longest report I had ever read. My son had areas of difficulty in all seven of his senses, bilateral co-ordination, running speed and agility, fine motor precision, fine motor integration amongst others… I read that he had very low muscle tone, and was struggling to cope with his sensory processing mainly due to his extremely sensitive senses. This was of course a lot to take in as his mother I knew that this report was going to shock me and upset me a little… But then I noticed what I had first come looking for..

 “UPPER-LIMB CO-ORDINATION… This test comprised of eye-hand Co-ordination activities such as throwing and catching a tossed ball, dribbling a ball and throwing a ball at a target. XXXXXX displayed excellent ball skills and managed appropriately with throwing and catching a small ball using two hands and with one hand, and also managed well with dribbling a ball while alternating hands.”

This was said to be his strength, I was blown away! Yes, he will need a programme that is devised by his OT and implemented throughout his school day by teaching staff as well as six individual OT sessions a term from a professional OT each lasting 45 minutes each, Yet just this one thing above was all it took to prove that my little man had the ability to make me eat my own hat. 

For me it was fate, God delivered us this cricket set for my Little guy to display his skill while delivering my surprise (No, I’m not a big god person, but you have to admit this was as if he was being rewarded for all his hard work) If I could give this product a rating of 100 I would… The maximum ten is what it will have to be then. Perfect for any child who loves ball games, or just wants to improve and practice in the back garden. It’s simple design with just a small logo/image, but mostly plain… that for us was perfect, extreme colours or patterns would have sent Little man into a sensory overload. For all those artist, paint it, go crazy with a spray can, my daughter would! Of course the set allows you to Play alone or with others, it has four stumps allowing some good old-fashioned rounders. Little Man can build up his confidence and hopefully as his social skills improve he will start to challenge others. With the ability to build social skills, improve eye-hand co-ordination and healthy exercise… For under a tenner its got to be a winner.   The large wooden cricket set has an astonishing price tag of just £6.95 10/10

The woodentoyshop.co.uk is still right up there in my opinion and remains a 10/10 top marks for a site that is fairly priced, offers a discount day via a code from facebook page or twitter (Fridays) Best of all… A discount for nurseries and schools accompanied with the chance of winning all the returned but undamaged stock that can no longer be sold due to the fact its been opened (completely safe and usable condition, draw is done on a monthly basis)

 Be sure to return for the Competition to bag your child an awesome gift from the WoodenToyShop, while supporting my first ever give away!

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