Tag Archives: OT

A Back To School Special

2 Sep

Oh my goodness can you believe how quickly the holidays passes by. I just cannot believe that they’re going back to school already.

Ok, admittedly there have been certain days, weeks even, when I could be heard asking “When do they go back to school already” But on the whole, the holidays have been relatively good (and thats regardless of them good old meltdowns)!

Yes, I’m pretty nervous about little man’s return to school! Although he went up to the secondary school a few weeks before the breakup, as to allow him some time to get used to the change, I’m guessing there will still be problems. Now, I’m not a pessimist, just a realist, a mother who’s now been parenting a boy with Aspergers for almost 12 years!

These last few weeks of the holidays I’ve been doing certain things to prepare little man.

I’ve got him to wear his new shoes on a daily basis as to wear them in.Then there’s his new uniform that I’ve had him sit around in for 15 minutes each day.This is all in the hope that it helps him to avoid any sensory related difficulties or induced meltdown, on the day that he starts.

My daughter has her uniform all hung up ready for her return to school on Thursday. I admit to getting this really last minute (Saturday, that’s how last minute)! Luckily ‘Matalan’ had fresh stock and saved the day. You can catch our review here tomorrow.

As for stationary… This year I’m over organised, taking no chances whatsoever!

Many will know how little man has poor fine motor skills a trait of his Aspergers Syndrome. As a result he stopped writing for a few years of his life. He would only write using a computer and as a mother who still believes in the benefits of good old fashion writing, this upset me!

He completely lost all his confidence when it came to putting pen to paper but since leaving mainstream and starting at his independent special school where his undergoing weekly OT sessions, this is all history now as his writing and enthusiasm to do so, is improving with each passing day.

My daughter Alice-Sara who like myself, loves to write and is also actually very creative, has her own difficulties. However these are more so with her letter formation, and writing style. She is finally just in the process of being tested for Dyslexia. She is left handed like myself and for many years did mirror writing and at times still does. (This is where letters and numbers are written back to front)!

This is why the right stationary is important to us. For many a pen is nothing other than simply that… “A pen” but it’s important for my children to use pens and pencils that they are comfortable using.

This year the lovely PR for STABILO offered to help us find some stationary that the children could really benefit from.

Here’s a selection of what we tried.

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The Double ended pen is available in sets of 10 and are targeted at children 6 years and above. The pen feature stackable lids to encourage good organisation skills. This double tip pen has a fine tip for writing and sketching and a broad tip for colouring in. What’s more each end has an ergonomic triangular grip zone which helps the child to hold the pen correctly. Perfect for little man a child with poor fine motor skills.

Other great features to the STABILO Trio double ended pen is its washable ink! A must have feature unless you enjoy trying to remove ink from white school shirts? Mmmm… I thought not!

This is a great pen for both my children and Alice-Sara loves how this allows her to switch quickly between writing and colouring. Little man liked it’s fine tip, the fact he could write in colour. He especially liked how it felt against the paper, commenting that it writes really nicely.

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The Cappi Pen is targeted at children aged 6 years and above. I love these pens as the caps can be easily threaded onto a cap ring making them less likely to lose (that’s unless they lose the entire cap ring with all the lids attached or worse the pens them self). Again these are great for both my children as both have issues with organisation skills and are forever misplacing things.

Like before the STABILO Cappi pen features that all important ergonomic grip zone that allows children to hold their pen correctly, giving them a better grip and prevents little fingers from slipping. Another feature is its unusual tube shape that has been designed so the pen doesn`t roll away and can be easily picked-up. Oh and if you do happen to misplace your cap ring when using a pen then don’t panic you have plenty of time to look for it as these won’t dry out for at least 24 hours.

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Alice-Sara, my fellow lefty was lucky to get her hands on the STABILO EASYOriginal pen. I say lucky as this has been a godsend and I can’t see her using anything else again.The pen is targeted at children learning to write as well as school age children over 6 years. There are two kinds of EasyOriginal available! Those designed for left handed children as well as one designed for the right handed child.

Features… A new interpretation of the fountain pen but instead an ergonomically designed rollerball. This is the first rollerball especially designed for left- and right-handers.

The pen has a specially formulated grip zone made from non-slip material which gives children far better control over the pen.

I loved the easy no mess solution it provided when it comes to refilling your pen. Every refill has a new tip which means that children are not exposed to the ink itself avoiding spillages.

Alice-Sara loves the pen and we are going to seek permission for her to be able to take and use the pen at school. She’s currently at Primary school and as standard they can usually be found writing in pencil (unless given pen licenses which means obtaining a standard handwriting pen)! I can’t see why it should be a problem what with the been being praised by teachers, approved by parents and loved by children.

I’ve since brought a right handed STABILO EASYOriginal pen for Little Man as STABILO report how children using an EASYOriginal pen, are given a more relaxed hold whilst writing! This in itself prevents muscle fatigue which is great news for my son.

I’ve even tried my daughters left hand pen and can comment on its ease of use, comfortable handling resulting in my improved neat and tidy handwriting (even when rushing) For me the fact that it doesn’t blot or scratch is a real bonus!

Available with royal-blue erasable ink, document-proof black ink or red ink.
All colour combinations feature a space for a name tag.

The STABILO Trio Scribbi is targeted at artist who want to get to grips with a pen for the first time, as well as children who have difficulties with using pens because of motor skills (like Little man). So… Why is it different? Well, this is a pen that is said to be almost indestructible thanks to its push-resistant thick tip. Its clever triangular design helps children get a secure ergonomic grip. Its great for kids like Little man who tends to get more pen on his hands than on that of the paper as its super-washable for problem-free cleaning of hands and even clothes.

Little man used it but states that he still couldn’t colour correctly with it as he still coloured outside the lines of his drawing. I think his looking for a pen with a Miracle solution to the problem.

The STABLIO Woody 3 in one was for Alice-Sara as its a pencil that has been designed for the child who loves to draw. The pencil has a unique feature that acts as a colored pencil, watercolour and wax crayon all in one.
It has XXL break-proof lead ­that is as thick as 8 standard coloured pencils. It’s designed to be highly pigmented with high opacity and colour intensity, even on dark paper! Better still this is a pencil that writes on smooth surfaces such as glass, metal, leather etc.

This is ideal for Alice-Sara as its unique versatility supports her every expanding creative development.

This awesome 3-in-1 comes in translucent colors (red, green, blue).

But it’s not just stationary we needed to think about. I still had the issue of little man’s hygiene. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that he just don’t want to wash, his just extremely tactile defensive. The way his skin feels once its absorbed water Is something he finds hard to tolerate… “You know that squeaky clean feeling or worse the one where your fingers wrinkle?” It’s so hard as this tactile defensiveness affects many areas such as nail cutting and teeth brushing. Every single day morning and night without fail it remains a battle. This means that getting little man to wash his hands before eating or after using the toilet is just plain handwork that I’m losing the energy for.

Little man is at an age where I should no longer need to follow him around demanding he does these basic acts of hygiene.Then there is the issue of school! I don’t want staff to have to constantly ask him to wash his hands. As a solution I’d just have him keep a small tube of hand cream (though he still found it hard to overcome the anxiety about the initial task). We also tried hand sanitiser, only these created there own problems. Not only did some bring around the exact same problem as before but the smell would make him feel ill. One or two even caused him reactions due to there harsh ingredients.

We were sent a bottle of my pocket buddy on-the-go hand sanitiser to review. Our problem was detected in a tweet and the lovely social media team behind the brand, got in contact and as a result, shipped one of these to the little man pretty quickly.

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Here’s what this pocket buddy claims to do…

“My Pocket Buddy® on-the-go hand sanitiser has been scientifically formulated to kill 99.99% of germs, whilst still being kind to your hands. Our product range includes an 8ml pen spray for children, a 50ml foamer for adults, and a 500ml foaming dispenser, ideal for the home, nursery, or your place of work.

Not only is My Pocket Buddy® alcohol free and made from 100% natural ingredients, it’s effective in seconds, helping reduce germs, bacteria, viruses and fungi on the skin. There are no chemical nasties in any of our products, ensuring safe protection for your hands, and giving you peace of mind that your loved ones are protected too.”

For us the thin pen design is the perfect size for little man to carry around yet big enough for him to find in his pocket without getting stressed (the little man hates losing things and having to look for them)! The fact that it’s also a spray makes it so quick and easy to use.

Most importantly and I say this with a huge smile on my face… He likes it, there is a massive reduction in the uncomfortableness he would normally feel when using water or another alcohol based sanitiser. What’s more it doesn’t smell as potent and his therefore coping well with using it.

The only issue we are left with now is ensuring we have enough and don’t run out as his built up a routine and as Little man will tell you… “Routines were not designed to be broken!”

Those who have similar problems can find out more by visiting the product page online

This is not a sponsored post and no payment has been made by those brands mentioned. I didn’t have to write and review any of the products discussed within this post, as I was not asked to included them here. All words are my own and not influenced from anyone other than myself.

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Governments gone crazy for the Olympics

15 Aug

I’ve loved watching the Olympic games, cheering as GB take a number of golds! Yes, it was hard not to get the gold rush and therefore get swept up in the moment! Yet it seems I’m not the only one, there’s one or two who have simply let it go to their heads and therefore got a little dose of Olympic fever.

It seems that one person in particular has got so carried away with the excitement of it all and therefore felt the need to state to the nation how the UK government would be throwing more money in that big education pot so that children are given the chance to flourish when it comes to competitive sports.

Of course that person was David Cameron, so of course I rolled my eyes while mumbling the words “Arse Wipe” beneath my breath.

You see, Cameron has made a hell of a lot of promises since he got his dirty foot in the door. As time has run on his broken each, leaving family’s struggling and at breaking point as his made cuts to services that society rely upon.

My blood boils when I hear him making such statements. Yes, I believe our children should be encouraged to aspire into next generation athletes but I also believe that they also deserve the access to education as a whole! There are many children in this country being home schooled, sadly many are not through choice. This means sports are the last think on their parents overworked and worried minds.

Cameron needs to look at the bigger picture, the whole of the education sector in and throughout britain needs a good clean up and fast, because although it was bad before, since this man took to the house with the black door, it’s been simply diabolical!

Now… as predicted Cameron has actually just gone and shoot himself in the foot as it was revealed that since coming into Government the 2-hours of compulsory physical education that was put in place by our last Government has now actually been scraped and done so on the hush, therefore allowing the PM to collect his pounds, sticking them all back into the Governments big pot of savings, a pot mainly made up from the cut backs to services that are meant to be protecting our most vulnerable!

Now although I believe our children should be actively contributing in competitive sports I also believe that funding needs to be driven into other areas such as Special Educational Needs (SEN) Supportive outreach, training and courses for teachers as well as improvements towards providing education for those children educated other than at school. By this I’m vastly referring to off site education or Home tutoring funded by the LEA on medical grounds. The nations PRU (pupil referral units) are key examples. I’m sick of hearing local authorities claiming that those children in desperate need of support, can’t actually have it as there are little or no funds to delegate! Thankfully my child now enjoys a number of sports despite having Aspergers and past anxiety towards even the thought of one day actively participating in sports, especially that of contact sports. Admittedly this surge of improvement has to be the result of finally having left his former state mainstream primary school and then moving to an independent special school. The move has done well to demonstrated the impressiveness that comes with the reinstalled coincidence. However, you must not mistake my honestness for support of a crappy British PM. Despite my past difficulties with a string of teachers, I still find Mr Cameron’s latest statements to be harsh and unwarranted. He gives it all he has in way of a push and a shove in the direction of the states school teachers as he tries to convince the nation that his decisions to retract compulsory PE have been based around his concerns regarding today’s teachers lack of competitive ethos towards competitive sports as opposed to that of Government cuts. Now, I know what I believe!!

Little man met one or two exceptional teachers when he attended state maintained primary school. But as you know he also encouraged discrimination and bullying (mainly inflicted by teachers as opposed to children). Some may have been blinded by ignorance as a result of little if no SEN & Autism training whatsoever. I believe it’s these never ending difficulties between teachers and children that hold a much stronger case for funding. Most teachers are not in a position to freely campaign… But seriously, by you reducing funding over a period of time surely its obvious that there is little teachers can do to carry on being supportive towards physical education.

Sometimes I wonder what this man has going through his head, it’s as if he has this thing against working class families simply branding teachers in “state schools” as lazy… We’re not talking Mathematics but physical education (PE) most children will develop at their own pace when it comes to sport and those with passion will go far regardless. But it seems the PM thinks otherwise, with his suggestion of teaching kids to be more competitive, by creating a cultural change that replaces the “Everyone’s a winner motto” The PM needs to understand that for some children this just won’t stick! And for those others, well… A combination of the child’s determination, a teachers motivation and a good dose of funding can make it happen.

So… Maybe the PM should consider very carefully what it is his proposing before getting ahead of himself and sharing such plans and unconsidered decisions with the world! Especially when his not shared the changes his already implemented, including the removing of compulsory PE from education.

I mean come on,How stiupid must this man be? He must have considered the possibility that his secret operation would reveal its ugly head.

Cameron really doesn’t seem to understand his mistakes, never confessing that his decisions are just that, “His decisions” Franky, Instead of dealing with the bum error as it stood! the PM just made it a whole lot worse by continuously blaming teachers in regard to their lack of interest in teaching PE as well as encouraging children to get active and live healthy.

The only time I’ll ever give this man a thumbs up is when and only when we see him leaving number 10 closing the door behind him and heading in the direction of the job centre.

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.

Home-made Play Dough for Sensory Play

28 Mar

Little man recently discovered the art of making Play Dough and since he made this discovery his done nothing but make the stuff!

It all started when we received the Cubby kit for review, within this kit was the recipe for play dough and since then I’ve brought all the ingredients including every colour of food colouring imaginable!

Little man is tactile defensive and although Play Dough is known to be something of a sensory delight for children on the autism spectrum, for Little man it was nothing other than disgusting! 

Little man hated both the texture and smell that came with handling Play dough but since receiving a good dose of occupational therapy (OT) and discovering that home-made play dough doesn’t contain the same strong smell of the shop brought stuff his been on a bit of a play dough mission.

Play dough is a great way of introducing a range of different textures to a child with sensory processing difficulties, as its texture can be changed dramatically with the added addition of one of two substances, such as coarse glitter or sand.

Another great way to use play dough as a sensory tool for children who are tactile defensive is to bury stuff within it and then get your child used to the different sensations by dishing around to retrieve it. This is also a great game to do with sand, gooey mixture or even coloured water. 

So, if you fancy cooking up some play dough for your sensory seeker or for the use of some sensory games, then here’s how…

You will need:

Cream of Tartar (2 large spoonfuls)

Table salt (Half cup)

Flour (2 small cups)

Oil (I small spoonful)

Water (I small cup)

Food Colouring 

Place a cup of water in a saucepan, add 1/2 a cup of table salt and the 2 large spoonfuls of cream a tartar.

Mix I drop of oil to 3 drops of food colouring adding it to the pan, heat till warm.

Remove and tip into a mixing bowl, add a cup and a 1/2 of flour and mix.

Next sprinkle some flour onto a clean surface or chopping board, knead the mixture till smooth and you have a dough like consistency, ensuring it’s not sticky. (If sticky add more flour).

Add the play dough to an air tight container so it can be reused over and over again.

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The Sensory Processing Of A Child With Aspergers Syndrome

23 Feb

It’s a saturday afternoon, myself and the children are sat in our local  cafe where I’m treating them to lunch and their favourite milkshake. Sat across from us, there are workmen sipping their tea as they delve into a spot of all day breakie. It’s a little noisy but that’s just what you expect from a cafe, isn’t it!

Suddenly I hear the sound of scrapping metal, it seems drawn out, lasting forever. I look round to spot one of the builders doing a grand old job of ensuring he gets his full five quid’s worth, as he fights to scrape the remaining 4 or so baked beans onto his fork, before finally shoving them in his mouth and down his throat. I turn my head in the direction of Little Man (aka a boy with Aspergers) who now has his hands firmly placed over his face, shaking his head, he mumbling words I cannot understand, yet I know what his saying, his saying, “Mum, let’s get the hell out off here!”

Sensory Overload is powerful, so much so, it can make a person actually vomit. So, if my Little Man is so sensitive to such sounds, why take him to a place they are bound to be found? Little man loves the cafe and I want him to experience such small pleasures such as eating in one! Some days can be worse than others, his done well at trying to take in these sounds that cause him so much distress, finding other methods of dealing with it! Yet, this is all dependent on his current state of mind and how he feels physically at the time (I guess it’s like anyone and anything, example being how things are much harder without sleep)!

Such simple things interfere with Little mans senses and I feel as his mother, it’s my duty to help him find ways to regulate them best he can! He has to live with many sensory triggers, some that will never be fully avoidable, I want to be sure that he can cope both physically and mentally. Given Little man faces many of these sensory triggers on a daily basis, myself and his OT based within his school, are trying our hardest to help him to process these things better as to not let it take over completely making him stressed upset or simply meltdown! The sound of scrapping metal is just one in a long list of sensory processing difficulties the Little man experiences with each day, and was actually one of the first indications that Little man had such difficulties within this area! This was when he was not much older than 2-years-old.

Certain tactile experiences are yet another sensory trigger for Little man, he will refuse to wear certain clothing garments dependent on their material, he refuses to drink from plastic beakers or eat from plastic plates, stating it leaves him feeling fuzzy. It’s taken a long time to work out what does and what doesn’t upset him, I can safely say, that in many respects, especially in regard to the clothing issues, I have it nailed now! Then again given he refuses to wear anything other than joggers, it isn’t hard to establish what it is I should be offering him to wear everyday. We are so lucky that his special school for children on the autism spectrum actually allows joggers as part of it’s uniform! Mainstream school and its uniform policy caused little man great distress, he was even excluded from school on a number of occasions for sensory outburst when demands were made to tuck his shirt in! For the average person, that’s like requesting they stick their head in a hot oven!

The good news was “Bob the builder” (aka workman opposite) had managed to capture all of his baked beans so had finally stopped chasing them around the plate! Bad news was, Bobs crew also liked to engage in some good old grub chasing and soon enough Little man let rip!

Raising to his feet he turned in the direction of the workmen and with great volume stated, “Id much rather you licked your plate please” Now, a little shocked I’m sure they were, after all, it’s not every lunch break you get told to lick your plate by a small child (well, this was a good 3 years back, before his massive spurt in growth)! However, what they did next I didn’t expect! One goes for it… literally licking his plate while laughing and stating in between licks, “like that son, is it?” Little man had meant it all right, they may have thought my Little man was some little sarcastic wise arse, but I knew he meant it and was rather pleased at the fact this builder had taken his meaningful advice and got stuck in, licking like a dog.

Regardless of the fact I did laugh inside, (quite some amount in fact) I didn’t want little man thinking his chosen technique had won him silence, he would only be ordering the licking of plates every single time we ran into these problems, and let’s be honest, you always get one person who fails to see any funny side of anything whatsoever! This could therefore result in Little man getting hurt, maybe even being beating up as he grows older, and what mother ever wants to think about such a horrible thing happening to her child!

I’ve defiantly decided to start the Little man on a sensory diet, which before you ask, doesn’t have anything to do with food! Basically , this is a programme you can do at home which is made up from a series of activities and exercises, designed to help with sensory integration.

Here are some great ideas to introduce a child with Autism, Aspergers or just SPD to a series of Sensory based activities things they may normally find difficult to process.

Tactile board

Introducing a range of textures as part of a tactile board, some children with autism like Little man, are incredibly sensitive to touch, others pose no issues at all. Hanging a tactile board in a bedroom, children can be encouraged to touch the board regularly, offering rewards for achievements.

Sensory messy box

This is great for both the sensory seeker and the child who is said to be tactile defensive. In terms of the sensory seeking behaviour displayed by some, the Sensory Messy Box offers children a safe activity (reduces sensory seeking behaviours, such as rocking spinning, clapping and more). For the child who is defensive, lots of encouragement and continued reassurance is the overall key. I’m planing to use incentives like mini Lego figures, to get the Little man wanting to put his hands in good fun messy coloured shaving foam, to hopefully dish about and retrieve them.

Dressing up box

It’s always best to fill a dressing up trunk with both the materials your child does and doesn’t tolerate, as having them with him, (especially if he likes the look of the costumes) may just help him feel more motivated to make contact with the different textures on offer!

The creation of a sensory pad (aka Little man’s bedroom)!

 Something I’ve felt the desire to create for, so… long! First I was put of the idea, having viewed some top sensory products, that included, lights, beds, toys and more at an autism exhibition. These items were innovative, top of the range, extremely clever, providing clam and tranquility, but sadly I found them to be priced outrageously high. As time passed, with much googling, window shopping etc, it became clear that this can be done on a smaller budget! High street stores do many sensory items, there just not labelled that way! Imagination and creative thinking are also the inexpensive tool needed for creating such a space. I’ve been using Pinterest and have been designing the board “the sensory room” as to collect inspiration and share it with others also wanting to create a place to help their child destress. I will update some more later in regard to my progress in building a Sensory pad, though do feel free to follow me on Pinterest where you will find this board, amongst other boards boasting lots of ideas for parents of children with special needs.

Well, I will stop there for now, this post is becoming beyond long, plus the Mac is ignoring most of my commands and doing whatever it wants to right now!
I’ll be sure to share some more fun sensory ideas over the coming few weeks, in the meantime, if anyone has any tip or creative ideas to share, please let me know in a comment as I’d love to hear them.

Get Your Skates On

10 Jan

 Just because my son has Aspergers Syndrome and special educational needs, it doesn’t mean he can’t do all the things your child can do! OK, a handful of those “Things” are that bit more difficult, but he gets there all the same!

 Sometimes, I often find myself saying the above to Little man, a child who has lost confidence, through no fault of his own! This is a child who needs that push, a gentle reminder that everything is worth a try. 

 It’s not just the fact that Little man missed out on many trips and activities while attending mainstream school (though this has had a considerable impact) it’s also little man’s social and physical abilities that also play a part. 

 So, when I won tickets for a family trip to the Stratford City, Westfields outdoor ice rink, I knew Little man would struggle if but a little. 

 The great thing was that I actually bagged two lots of family tickets…well, 3 lots actually, all on different blogs that I read! I was delighted to discover I had won the first lot, then I was informed by yet another blogger, id won her competition too. This set I gave up for another lovely blogger and her family who had also entered, but then to discover from yet another blogger that I won a third time was absolutely great if not a little strange. With this revaluation, I decided to invite the neighbours along too.

 Both my older children, Little man and his sister Alice-Sara, are gone friends with the children next door (in all honesty one of the children is Little man’s one and only true friend) so, I hoped that this would make the whole experience of getting out on the ice, a little less daunting for the Little guy, and it did… eventually!

 Don’t get me wrong, there was no meltdowns, not one in fact (I know… shocking) it was more little man’s OT needs that posed a challenge! My son is what some would describe as a little clumsy, which is basically down to his gross motor skills! Yes, he can ride a bike, amazingly well in fact, but he often has a little trouble with his spatial awareness (knowing where his body is in space) his balance, can sometimes be a little off at times too. This impacted with the crowded ice rink would undoubtably pose a challenge, this I already knew.

 Yet, the fact he had his friends there and the sheer determination within him, saw him past the challenges that presented him, and as a result, I ended up a very proud mummy!

Above: All friends together on the Ice

 The staff at Westfields couldn’t have been more helpful, I didn’t notify them that a child with Special needs would be joining us (a group of 8 consisting of 2 adults and six children) but all the same I felt the staff went out of their way to help. There was one point when the little man started freaking out that his skates were not tight enough (he has this thing where shoes need doing up dead tightly, he states it’s so his feet have control of his shoes and not the other way around) Yes, it’s another OT thing)! The staff on the ice were amazing, rushing out to check he was OK and bending down on all fours to tighten his skates. 

 When we first stepped on to the ice, I noted how my daughter and her friends went whizzing of into the middle of the rink, as grateful as I am to have such a confident young daughter, I did feel some sadness for my Little man as he clung to the edge as if his whole life depended on it. He looked at me with fear in his eyes as he stated he just couldn’t do it! I continuously reassured him and bit by bit he came slowly away from the edge.

My daughter & friend first one of the first on the ice

Hanging on for dear lifeThinking about it!Off he goes

 I found my biggest confidence booster for the little guy was, once the rink filled with more and more people I happily pointed out that he wasn’t the only one clung to the edge of the rink (Seriously, it was mostly the full-grown men, hanging on for dear life). Little man, is like lots of children of his age, where he feel incredibly stupid if he struggles to do something that others are finding a breeze, therefore seeing all those grown ups looking like they were hanging from a cliff, seemed to stop him from giving up and making his way back in to redeem his comfortable trainers. (Yes, he tried suggest it once or twice.)

 We were on the ice around 45 minutes and despite his fear, he made it to the middle of the rink! To watch him skating with his friends and smiling having fun, has been the highlight to my year so far… all ten days of it!

Standing proudly with his friend at the centre of the rink

 So… what about me, did I fall on my arse? Nope! Though I almost did once or twice, I just about managed to stay on my feet. 

 I was convinced the skating finished at 6pm, though I was wrong, the last session actually started at 6 pm, meaning the skating didn’t end till 7 pm. With this I gave in defeat and left the Little man and Alice Sara with their friends and their mother (my lovely neighbour) while I headed off to collect my comfortable flat shoes and off it for a sneaky fag 🙂

 Little man was having a blast and now didn’t want to leave. I decided to sit out and just watch for the last hour (my excuse was that I was now a photographer, or at least trying to be)! Though I really shouldn’t admit this, sitting on the sidelines gave me a good opportunity to view some classic skating fails! Wow… Seriously, though I see a couple of women hit the deck, and of course a good number of children (my own included) I have never seen so many men fall over in one place in my whole entire life.And Oops a daisy

 How can you not laugh, there were some classics. Plenty of men, one or two rather dishy I must add, skating around on their butts rather than their skates! Did I feel guilty for laughing so much that my sides were sores? No… not really, they all seemed to see the funny of things, eventually!

 All in all… we had a brilliant time which was all down to them fabulous blogs that ran the competitions, (thank you Essex mum , Madhouse reviews & Emma and three) as well as those who took care of our needs at the skating rink.Alice & FriendOne of the Little man’s friends from next door

 Essex mummy (one of the bloggers I won tickets from) has asked me if I fancy doing a guest post reviewing our experience, we had such a fabulous time it would be rude to decline (so, do keep an eye out for that). 

 For those interested, the rink is now closed but will return again next year for the festive season. We went on the last day before it packed up for the year and considering I thought that I had Christmas well and truly out my system, the festive christmas tunes and chilly ice made it feel like Christmas Eve again. I think January is a brilliant time to go, and I would highly recommend the Stratford City Westfields Outdoor Ice rink.

 Oh… and Little man? He now wants roller-blades! 

Why some children with autism may hate the 5th November

26 Oct

It’s almost here, the one night of the year that has my son crawling around on the floor like a solider in combat. 

The 5th of November is bonfire night and as much as Little man likes watching the fireworks at a distance from the safety and comfort of the living room window, it’s a whole different ball game when outside.


In a way I’m extremely thankful that we know it’s on the way so we can therefore avoid being outside on that evening. However I’ve noticed that the fireworks are already lighting up our skies. 

That’s when It’s most difficult, when he doesn’t expect it. He will flip out and quite literally drop down to the ground. It’s not only the loud whistling, sizzling & loud bangs that frighten him, his also frighten that they are falling from the sky on top of him.

Again I think that much of this comes as a result of his sensory processing, the way in which his senses work. His also got a fear of tall buildings fearing that they will fall and flatten him. I remember speaking to the occupational therapist about this issue who confirmed that it was is in-fact something to do with his sensory processing! It actually has a name which is “Proprioceptive Dysfunction” 

Let me explain a little… We all have a range of senses and one of these sense is our proprioceptive sense which works by feeding the brain information that tells us about movement, and where our body position is in space.

When we received Little man’s OT report it was clear that he had difficulties within all his senses which in some ways made me feel quite sad. 

Well, if your child has difficulties in the sense his Proprioceptive sense isn’t processing as it should be then they will likely experience the difficulties that Little man does. He states that looking at tall building makes his head spin and everything moves around him making him feel that his feet are no longer on the ground. This kinda leads me to believe that when Little man looks up at the fireworks directly above him in the sky, as they explode and drop lower he becomes confused and is unable to sense how near or far the firework actually is.

The above combined with the loudness of a fire display is enough to send him crazy. 

Note: Little man loves sparklers and will happily hold one, this is also confirmation that yes, his fear in fireworks are a sensory problem.

I remember at the beginning of the year, I was out with the children shopping then we met up with a friend to grab something to eat. It was a freezing evening in January so nowhere near November. Can you imagine his horror as we stepped out the restaurant and onto the street where the sky suddenly turned into a mass of beautiful golds and pink as a spectacular fireworks display took affect above. We were already on route to my friends card who was parked a good five minutes up the world. The shops in the high-street were now closed and the restaurant was now way back in the distance! With no place to run he did what he does best in such a situation, he drops. My son is no “tiny little man” believe me his grown. He was ten at the time, far to big to pick up, throw over my shoulder and make a running bid for the car. Like I guessed Little man refused point-blank to get up from the ground and proceeded to crawl instead. 

Can you imagine the looks on the faces of those passing by, some people really are rude sometimes when they point and stare, (is it entertaining seeing a child in distress)? 

My friend ran for the car which we finally got him in, but my goodness it was extremely stressful for him and a memory that will stick with me forever more.

Yesterday fireworks began going off right outside the living room widow. Little man ran towards the window where he stayed and enjoyed the show in till they had disappeared. He then turned and said to me, “Lucky we weren’t outside mum” 

We have been to a few well organised public displays but always get the same result. 

This year I think we will stay indoors, grab some toffee apples and lemonade and put some comfy cushions up at the living room window. 

Lets just hope we are not caught unaware in the run up to the big night. 

The NAS have created a list of tips for bonfire night aimed at families with children with autism

 This can be found by clicking HERE  

If anyone has any tips of their own, do please let us know in a comment. 

My Little construction workers

20 Sep


 Alice-Sara, shared her construction skills when reviewing the Meccano tool box for girls, back in August, Now it was the turn of the boys.

 Products we were sent: Space-Chaos & the Build and play mini case.

 First up it’s Little man’s review of the Space Chaos

 Space Chaos is designed for children 7-14 years (at almost 11yrs this was well within his age range).

 Before getting out the cash and splashing out, I suggest you find out if, (a) your child is a goodie (therefore the Silver force is what you should be aiming for) or (b) Your child is a baddies (therefore requiring a construction set from the Dark Pirates range).

As we were sent the products for the purpose of a review we didn’t put a request in, but on arrival of a Space Chaos, Dark pirates, I felt this was the right choice (Yes, he actually prefers to be a baddie, like his mum, *Evil laugh* follows)

 So, what’s the fuss about!

 Space Chaos is a collection of Air craft/space ships consisting of drones, raiders, bombers, fighters, destroyers and more! Each Set can make two models with a pack contents of around 140+ parts and pieces. The kit contains a special sound function that can be activated at the push of a button.

 Space Chaos Models come with a range of stickers to pimp out your ship, as-well as two trading cards showing the unique powers of each spaceship. Each trading card also displays a secret code, this can be entered online to access lots of extra goodies, including wallpapers, posters, cards, combat cards and plenty more.

 Getting stuck in!

Before I go any further I wish to remind or inform the readers who don’t know, that little man has Aspergers and has associated difficulties with his Gross and fine-motor skills. His recent Occupational therapy assessment highlighted that he has a much greater difficulty with his use of fine motor skills, then we all thought and expected. With this in mind I wanted to see how he was able to cope with the Meccano set, or if it could actually help better his skills.

 I grabbed some drinks and on my return discovered he had open every single individual sealed bag which contained the many different parts and mixed them together as one! “Great, this wasn’t going to be easy” All the pieces in the set were a mix of both plastic and metal. The instructions looked simple enough, yet the pieces were mixed and I can’t even construct a kinda egg toy let alone this thing!

 Little man was getting nowhere, so after what seemed like days I finally managed to separate all the parts into their required piles. The bits where very fiddly for little man and he continually dropped them, he became angry refusing to try again. Little man has very low concentration, so, we did some sections over the course of a few days till day three when he spent time with his father, the model was finally completed.

 Advantages

Good instructions

Builds two models 

Sound effects

Trading cards and online feature

End result, a great toy that offers lots of playability

Little man doesn’t stick with something for long specially if it’s not bus or train related. Through with his fathers help he remained focused, Patient, and willing. To have completed the model into something that offered playability. This was a massive achievement.

Disadvantages 

Difficult for children who experience difficulties with their fine motor skill.

No storable click case

The build and play mini (5-8yrs)

 A small sturdy solid case containing around 30+ pieces of flexible, easy click parts that allow a child to construct a total of two models (note: only one at a time)

 Now, this was Harley’s set and I’m not about to moan about the fact he didn’t have the first idea how to build this (apart from the construction of a wheel, which I’m sure happened by chance)! Why? Because at 21 months this set, that is recommend for 5-8 year olds is way to advanced and wasn’t going to happen. The idea was for Alice to carry out the honours and construct the set and once together, Harley would have a chunky car to text drive around the living room!  I now jokingly call  Alice Wendy from (Bob the builder) as she seems to have a skills when it comes to Meccano builds.

The way in-which the pieces click together is the same as Alice-Sara’s own meccano set. She read the instructions with ease and being at the top of the recommend age range for this toy she experienced little if not any problems at all.

 The end result, Harley had a very nice buggy type car with beady eyes.

 I’m unsure if a 5yr old could construct this set as well as maybe a 7 or 8 year old. Little man also had ago at Harley’s set and despite his fine motor skill problems, he had no difficulties due to the easy click together action and the bigger more flexible pieces.

 For this reason I would personally recommend the set designed for younger children, with the bigger easier to hold parts, if buying for a child with difficulties with their fine motor skills. (Just remove the label displaying the recommended age) little man would become very dishearten if he saw this.

Advantages

Capability to build two models

Big chunky pieces

easy to follow instructions

End result, a good toy with lots of playability 

Plastic click case to store parts

Disadvantages 

You can only build one model at a time

I Liked both products, but could see myself buying the latter (mini build and play) purely because of Little mans difficulty with the Space Chaos. I think the finished models of both sets look great! The build and play looked fantastically funky and cute, especially the big beady eyes. The Space Chaos had the added touch of the sound effects which Little man loved.

I also love that the mini set comes in a click case allowing you to store the pieces away nicely, something sadly the Space Chaos lacked.

 Stars awarded

Space Chaos ****

mini build and play *****

Prices do vary so I would suggest having a look around online

But for those who hate bargain hunting you can get

Space Chaos Dark Pirates for : Amazon for £18.38

Mini build and play: Amazon for £9.99

 The world of Space Chaos can be discovered by visiting its websites which has been dedicated to the Space Chaos entire range.  http://spacechaos.meccano.com

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!

31 Aug
Toilet paper

Image via Wikipedia

Warning, the picture of the loo roll indicates the amount of crap mentioned within this one post! Seriously continue reading and you will see!

So, the return to school is upon us, we hit the high Street for uniform, stock the fridge with packed lunch, try to re-establish the already crap bedtime routine and pray the kids will get up in the mornings.

I’ve never had the privilege of looking forward to the kids returning to the land of learning so that I, ‘Mummy’ can over indulge on cbebbies with little H. I always kinda preferred the holidays over the term times, and never acquired that feeling that many do, “I can’t wait for these kids to return to school in September!” When the Little man was in his old school he was normally excluded within a few hours of returning. My daughter has no problems in school, but then again she isn’t expected just to fit in! That’s right, my daughter doesn’t have Aspergers syndrome which means she is welcomed on school trips and is given a part in the Christmas play. I don’t need to wipe her tears and try to find the answers as to why she isn’t allowed to join in with her peers or why she is being taught in isolation as opposed to in the class-room alongside her peers. Its simple… My daughter has not been discriminated against for being “different” she’s one of the lucky one’s!

Little man wasn’t, he sadly went through all the above and more, that was in-till he moved to a school especially for those with autism and aspergers. He only started the independent special school a month prior to the school holidays, yet in that short space of time, things were amazingly different, so much so, I cannot find the appropriate words to describe this situation any better. Normally by this time of the month dread has started to set in. I find myself becoming depressed with what’s to come, a pool of sick lay deep in  my stomach waiting to be stirred! Yes, I’ve done all that rubbish of trying to remain positive, “LOOK AT ME I’M SO POSITIVE, I MAYBE SMILING LIKE A CHESHIRE CAT ON THE OUTSIDE BUT GOD I’M HOWLING ON THE INSIDE”. When you have been crapped on as many times as we have its pretty hard not to lose all hope.

That’s why it’s strange, I haven’t got that feeling of dread, that deep Pit of sickness in the bottom of my stomach. Don’t get me wrong I’m thankful it’s gone yet I don’t know what to replace it with? “God at times I make so little sense, I struggle to understand myself” Surely I replace it with nothing, isn’t this the overall beauty of it, the beauty of no worries? It’s been so long that I’m totally lost when it comes to being free from such dread, seriously, to many I’m I may even sound as though I’m missing the drama! Well, I’m not, I promise you that! 

It’s not just the removal of the dread surrounding the return to school, it’s all of it, the whole stinking lot of it! You see, you spend so long fighting, it becomes a normality! You don’t see light at the end of the tunnel, it takes over your life… the daily calls to collect your child, the letters you write, appeals and representations you make on their behalf. You give it all you have, wishing for an end, a break from the grilling daily fight, then your hard work pays off! Your child gets into that special school, yet when they do… the massive hit of relieve you waited for doesn’t bowl you over quite like you expected it too. Instead you find that you have gone into some kind of shock, you’re unable to settle and adjust because I guess you’re waiting for someone to take it all away.

I know we are not completely home, safe and dry, (can you every be when your child has special educational need, living amongst a system obsessed with saving money regardless of how its achieved). Yes, anything can happen! Yet this is the same with everything in life, meaning taking each day as it comes, enjoying everyday that don’t bring with it a pile of stinking poop.

Friday, last week I got that bit of paper I’ve worked so dam bloody hard to get. Yes, It has been placed in my hands previous, only to be given straight back with the words, “Stick it where the sun don’t shine” attached to both Little man’s proposed and final statements of Special educational needs.

Gosh, I was fast becoming an expert on the use of fluffy wording that gave the LEA a, “Get out of jail free card” 

Excepting such an insult would make the whole deliberating experience to that point, completely and utterly worthless. 

Believe me, having a statement that states nothing other then good old fashioned common sense, was not the kind of statement that would see my child’s special educational needs met. I had constantly heard that it was my duty as a parent to ensure my child’s attendance at school during the height of Little man’s school refusal! So, wasn’t it my duty as his parent to ensure that when he did get there he was happy, cared for, involved, treated respectful, made to fill his contribution to the school along with his individual opinions were valued?

Such question pushed me to where we are today, where I was last Friday!

It had been pretty quite for some time (I hadn’t heard a peep out of the LEA) Little man may have already gain the place we so furiously fought for, yet his statement still remained a sheet of paper not even worthy as bog roll! For this reason the tribunal was still scheduled for the 26th of September.

It remained in the hands of the Gods (well, at times I’m sure they think they are)! Three independent reports, detailing a wealth of information! These were reports so detailed and lengthily that I myself discovered thinks about my child causing me to both cry and smile. The whole tiresome experience of trying to get your child a statement of SEN sends your head spinning in a total mass of emotions.

I opened the email from my solicitor and read how she had received the copy of a proposed amended statement, that was sent to me (Well, I’m still waiting) However not to freight, with the request for a forward the solicitor sent me a copy via email that I so eagerly downloaded and with bated breathe, I opened the attachment! 

There in black and white was every amendment requested, no corners cut, no compromising! Was the LEA all out of compromises? Were they beginning to have enough of the battle, just as I had done all so long ago? Surely they weren’t providing my little man with the ultimate gift available to them… A package of provision to unsure my sons needs where met, like he so greatly deserved, like you or I?

YES, YES, BLOODY YES…….

I looked over in his direction and let out a yelp, followed by a, “WE DID IT BABY!”

He smiles, high five’s me then sits down to continue his game. He was happy for his mum was happy, however he could not fully understand the extent of relieve that the battle being fought was finally over! He had no clue to what might have been!

And do you know what? That was just the way I liked it!

I never want to fight a fight like this again, yet I know that there will be times I will need to fight my sons corner, whether it relates to his educational or social needs, well, as for the remainder of his childhood anyway! (I’m pretty sure he will be somewhat of a great advocate for himself when his older!)

For now I’ll try my hardest to adjust back into a life of normality (what ever that maybe)! I’ll take each day as it comes, enjoying every school performance that both my children take part in. I’ll roll about in the comfort that he now feels that he belongs .

I’ll channel my desire to help others in that same position, into my work as a voluntary tribunal support adviser, I’ll spend more them on my blog indulging my passion to write and throw myself back into my passion for art!

I’ll discover, learn and watch my new interest in photography evolve 

I wont miss a single moment of my toddlers amazing milestones!

I’ll just try my best to be me again

Only a much improved vision

I can officially confirm

“What doesn’t kill us can only make us stronger!”


Limited Edition Lime Green Maxi Micro Scooter

22 Aug

Little man had one hell of a surprise ready and waiting to greet him  when he returned home from his cousins at the end of last week. A stunning Limited edition lime green maxi micro scooter for him to review.

Little man isn’t really the kind of child that wants all the latest  stuff though his pretty good at asking for stuff in general! However, this largely consists of anything from train sets, bus models, xbox games, to the more unusual request, such as working shop tills, torches, fly catchers, pens or even padlocks. So I was full of delight when he told me he had seen a pretty sick scooter (his words, certainly not mine).

How overjoyed was I when the lovely Hayley (Mini micro PR) sent me an  email asking me what micro scooter we would be interested in reviewing as part of our Santa’s little helpers’ I knew it would plant a massive smile on his chops, and boy I wasn’t wrong. What makes Maxi micro scooters stand out from the crowd.

The design

A seriously stunning piece of equipment, it’s almost neon green colour contrasting with jet black, gives the design a real funky edge.

It has an extending T-bar reaching a maximum height of 93 cms and its lime green base is designed to be low to the ground (yet remains very robust) It has tough PU wheels and lime green handle grips for maximum comfort.

The scooter has a three wheeled design aiding the child’s stability while riding.

A follow on from the Micro mini the Maxi micro is designed for children aged between 6-12 years, taking the maximum weight of up-to 50-kg.

The Maxi itself weighs in at just 2.5 kg and its removable T-bar allows the scooter to be stored away or dismantled for travelling. This was an important feature for us, what with the delivery of the scooter the day before we went away there was absolutely no way he was leaving it behind.

Little man puts it to the test.

Little man loved it and has had fun scooting about since it arrived. His not once had an accident (a rare occurrence for him) and the next door neighbour (his little friend, thinks it’s awesome too). It’s currently his bestest thing in the world after his transport collection that is! When asking him what he rated it out of 10, he answered, “100” I guess that pretty much sums it up, he loves it!

 Parental prospective.

When it first arrived I instantly loved the colour and design, but couldn’t see why it was different from any other scooter! Well, I must be showing my 29 years as Little man firmly put me in my place. It was only when seeing what the Maxi micro scooter could do, did I really,”Get it!” This really isn’t any scooter, it’s so much more! 
The Control your child gains over the steering is brilliant. I just loved the fact it had three wheels. Little man is under an OT as some areas of his gross motor skills are below other children of the same age (a direct result of the Aspergers syndrome). He quite obviously had much more stability riding the Maxi micro as opposed to any other scooter his tried.  Oh and this scooter is somewhat of a,”Mean Machine” as it wasn’t slow either! Don’t panic though, it’s easy for your child to control their speed which is dependent on how much leg power they initially put into it and the type of surface being used (be careful with hills). The scooters braking mechanism is also really good making it a pretty safe scooter.

All Maxi and Micro scooters have an outstanding safety record, they are really well built and designed by micro mobility systems, (a well respected Swiss company).

As a parent I couldn’t give it any less than the full whack when it comes to ranking it. Yes, it will set you back a bit currently priced at £99.95 but this is a scooter designed to last, offers so much more than your standard scooter, plus it has an outstanding safety record (which you just can’t put a price on)! 

Check Maxi & Micro scooters out for yourself by clicking HERE.

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