Tag Archives: Sensory play

Holidays, festivals and Aspergers

14 Aug

As some may have noticed, this blogger has been a tad quiet these past few weeks. This I can only put down to the 6 week holidays.

The children have done well at keeping me on my toes since breaking up from school, there’s been all sorts of crazy family ups and downs (luckily nothing to explosive has happened)!

Little man struggles to get the most out of his holidays, what with the lack of a more structured routine, things can often get on top of him. However, this year his doing pretty well and I’m super impressed at how little man is adjusting himself and as a result his enjoying an easier, less stressful school break.

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if family life paints the picture that portrays that perfect family the “Walton’s” or even that of the “Little House on the Prairie”. There has been meltdowns, sibling rivalry, tears and of course a little cursing. But thankfully on the whole, it’s been OK and could have easily been worse!

I don’t think I ever imagined that I’d write something like that of the above, especially not during past school holidays which have seen me wondering around in a zombie induced state or that of a women sitting in a corner with her head in her hands, questioning out loud her ability to be a parent! I’ve now come to learn that its a combination of careful planning, self confidence & consistency that makes holidays relatively pleasurable for the whole family (especially for that of the parent and child on the spectrum)!

Little man may scream & curse when I’m requesting a new rule is followed but these rules actually make his holiday and every other day more predicable. He has a clear message surrounding my expectations towards him.

This is the same when applying new activities to a timetable/schedule, as by doing so he is aware of what we’re doing and where we’re doing it. The only problems with this are that of having to reschedule a planed activity or trip, cancellations are by far the worse! Little man like most children diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, doesn’t really grasp the whole unavoidable circumstances explanation and things can therefore become extremely heated and long winded.

This year we haven’t really been on any huge trips and certainly not holidays. Yes, we’ve done some days out to the zoo, park and that of the beach but not as many as I would have liked! Nonetheless, little man seems happy as he engages himself in his special interests or spreading time in the garden where he jumps on the trampoline for hours at a time.

Yet, like his siblings and any other child for that matter, Little man does get bored. Sadly his one true friend who happens to live next door, is off on his holidays where he’ll spend a long sunny 3 weeks in Florida. It’s apparent how much the Little man is missing the friendship and as a result I’m often finding myself having to contend with a snappy, moody 11year year old.

The above has left me needing to think outside the box. There’s been a need to create fun on a budget in-order to keep the little mans mind healthy and stimulated therefore reducing the chances of him getting over absorbed in his interest or annoyed, over stimulated or bored.

Garden sensory play, board games and back yard camping have all played a huge part of our life these last few weeks.

Other then being a parent to three children there has been other things keeping me busy (thankfully I wouldn’t call these chores)! Their are a few new projects I’ve embarked on and some awesome brands I’ve started working with. Actually if I’m honest, I’ve had some lovely surprises since the kids broke up! Discovering I had been chosen to become one of the new Butlins Ambassadors, was one of those surprises, one that caused big cheesy smiles from fellow members of the household.

Becoming a Butlins Ambassador means I can book a holiday with the children between now and next August, and then share my views on the resort by written review and video.

Most importantly, I can report on the little things that matter to those families who have children on the autism spectrum, those with SEN and other types of disability. A holiday camp such as Butlins, runs scheduled activities & events throughout the day which is most appealing to the child who needs structure and routine to feel safe and comfortable.

As well as the review, I’ll be able to share all the need to know Butlins news which includes anything from fantastic competitions to fabulous savings.

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If the above wasn’t enough for me to get all excited about, I’ve also met with Acer who invited me to check out their latest Tech releases while celebrating the Olympics 2012 games and its worldwide partnership, by sitting down for a spectacular 3 course lunch at the stunning Spencer House in London (blog post & images coming soon).

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Last week was the week I got myself a little ‘Me’ time. I’ve just returned from a the “Wilderness Festival” in Oxfordshire. I spent the entire weekend with a friend discovering what Wilderness had on offer for its second year… and it was bigger and better than its first year ( review coming soon).

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So now I’m home and enjoying being mum. Yes, it gets tough sometimes but there is no place I’d rather be.

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#Silent Sunday

1 Apr

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 2012 London Toy Fair Brings Great Toys For Children On The Autism Spectrum

3 Feb

In a post a few days back I shared with you, some of my favourite discoveries from the 2012 toy fair hosted at London’s Olympia’s Grand Hall. As promised, I will now share with you all, some of the up and coming toys, that I feel will be a huge hit with those children with autism and other additional needs. These conclusions have been made by reflecting on the areas of play that interest my own child (aka Little man, a boy with Aspergers) as well the conclusions drawn from speaking and meeting with other families of children with autism or other additional needs.

Toy fair 2012 brought with it a whole host of amazing toys from some top named toy brands to one or two smaller brands that are yet to make a huge mark on the market.

Doctor Who

Who doesn’t love Doctor Who? It seems to be a huge hit for both child and adult alike and the child with autism is not exempt from the list. Children with autism, especially those with Aspergers, seem to take their interest to a whole other level, making them “Special Interest” and Dr Who seems to be a “Special interest” for many! Ok, not Little man (his more a construction boy with a fond love of transport) but for many others it is. So, I’m guessing many will love the new 3ft inflatable Dalek, that has been specially designed by Grossman Ltd, to retail at under £20.00 therefore bound to make a great impression on parents too. Another awesome Doctor who discovery this time by a company called “Zeon Tech” is the innovative Doctor Who TARDIS Smartsafe! I really find it difficult to call this a toy as its more of a “Must Have” gadget if anything! This is a replica of that iconic blue travelling phone booth made into an awesome innovative safe that is only opened with the use of an iPhone or Android dedicated app instead of the traditional combination lock… How cool is that!

Collectables

Anyone who has a child with autism or even knows a child with autism will know how many of these children love a toy that holds that collecting aspect. Collectables and Asperger’s seem to go hand in hand for my Little man and I’m sure some of these would appeal to him!

Moshi Mosters: Moshi monsters are great for kids on the spectrum as the brand offer so many collectable pocket-money toys, some of which we have already featured here on the blog. Some of the newer collectables from this range that are set to launch this year, included Fizz pods from Grossman Ltd (also available in Disney princess). Where, Re:creation are bringing us Moshi Monsters Zippers, a variety of 3D Moshlings attached to a child friendly clasp which can be hooked to any zip, so, perfect for accessorising & customising clothing and school backpacks & pencil cases while doubling up as the perfect fidget for the sensory seeker. The range also includes Moshi Monsters charmling bands (with each pack containing a wrist band and two charms).

NUKO Cards: Nukotoys bring us these collectable innovative trading cards combining physical and digital play as never seen before! NUKO Cards contain characters and items that magically spring into action when tapped onto the screen of an iPad, iPod touch, iPhone or an Andriod device. Kids will be able to play with mythical creatures such as cyclops, griffons and phoenix or exotic animals such as the water buffaloes, tigers and elephants without leaving the comfort of home. This innovative collectable trading mastermind will be brought to us by flair and are due to launch this year.

Pokemon: This is a brand known all to well amongst many children on the autism spectrum, mainly due to the collectables aspect that the name holds. This time BANDAI are launching the all new series of Pokemon Black & White toy range consisting of collectable figures, poke ball and twister figures with battle stage and the digital great ball so trainers can exchange their Pokemon.

Construction:

I think its been made clear on this blog over the past few months Little man’s love of construction toys especially “LEGO” and judging by the comments obtained on the “Boy with Aspergers Facebook page consisting of some almost 5,000 members, its clear that this love of construction goes way further than just the Little man. Toy Fair 2012 wasn’t short on construction toys and I’m quite excited at this years new launches.

LEGO: Lego had lots of exciting new products on show and I could easily go on about the benefits of LEGO all night. LEGO DINO’S was one new launch that took hold of me quickly, what with many children on the spectrum having a fondness for dinosaurs these new construction kits seem ideal as it combines the two interest together. The range has already made it onto the mayor retailers shelves as of this January 2012, so you can head out and buy them today if desired.

Another awesome LEGO product, was the new additions to the LEGO Friends collection, including some fabulous unique construction sets aimed at girls. Check out the set above, which combines both classic construction with girls doll play! Again the range has launched already and did so on the 26th December 2011! So, if your little one love’s LEGO, keep your eyes peeled for these new beauties.

Laser Pegs: This was by far one of my most exciting discoveries at the 2012 toy fair! I knew instantly that my son and many other children just like him, would go crazy for the New laser pegs stackables, fresh to the UK all the way from the US where it is already a massive hit! Even the American “Autism society” are singing its praises! Laser Pegs are the first patented lighted construction set in the world, offering an innovative new way to enjoy a construction kit! Not only are the pieces able to illuminate with the use of brightly coloured LED lights once constructed and connected to a power source, (battery-powered operated unit or AC socket adapter) but they are also compatible with all mayor big named construction brands interlocking perfectly using construction boards or pieces (Yes, we have personally put it to the test, so look out for the pending review). You can also buy the illuminating model kits that allow you to construct a host of different models before adding the magic of illumination. This brings together construction and sensory play for the child with autism and once constructed the model kits would be a welcomed addition to any sensory room (I predict these will be huge). Laser pegs are brought to us by F4K (Fun4kids) and you can check out this awesome brand by visiting www.laserpegs.co.uk.

Sensory play:

Pebeo: Little man is a child that has a lot of sensory sensitivities but also a child who needs a certain amount of sensory input. His tactile defensive and hates the texture and feel of a host of different materials. One thing he does enjoy though is a good bit of messy play, and Pebeo offer just that. All children will love the Pebeo’s creative art products especially kids on the spectrum & those with sensory processing difficulties. Pebeo are now introducing a new range of awesome 3D Tactile Paint, in some super cool colours. This funky paint can be applied to any creative project and within just a few short hours the paint would have dried giving it that awesome 3D effect. We love the range and are busy putting the Tactile 3D paint through its paces, so… stay tuned for our pending review.

Yummy Dough

Image via Wikipedia

Yummy Dough: Another product I got to play with over at the Toy Fair, was “Yummy Dough” from Maps, This stuff was everywhere come Christmas and it looks as though it will continue to be a success, sailing through 2012. What’s great about Yummy Dough is the fact it lets a child unleash their creative flair, with art normally being a strong point for the child with autism, this also offers the sensory seeker a whole new aspect to creative play! What’s more children can bake it and then eat it! What’s not to love!

Happy Hopperz: These guys just have to get a mention in my “Must haves” They were featured in the NAS communications publication when Little man went toy test with a group of other children on the autism spectrum. This was actually one of the toys that was voted in the top five toys for children with autism. Happy Hopperz are a huge collection of brightly coloured inflatable toys that resemble something of the “Space hoppers” of the 1970s. These have been created with ears and horns for small hands to grip onto as well as feet to steady the bounce. This is the ideal toy for the child who is said to be a “Sensory Seeker” the child who continually seeks stimulation through movement. Other benefits include those of strengthening of core muscles, increased balance control, the development of improved co-ordination skills all while helping to expand a child’s imaginative play while helping promote physical exercise and overall confidence. New designs launched in December and more are constantly being added so get your eyes peeled.

Games & Educational Play:

Little man has recently started playing lots of games, which I feel to be important, as it helps him to learn how to interact with others and play a competitive game in a non aggressive manner (he used to be a very sore loser and at times still can be)! Toy Fair 2012, had plenty to share when it came to games and educational play and here are some of my favourites.

Orchard Toys: These guys are brilliant, not only do they offer a host of awesome educational games but are also sponsoring this very blog in order for me to attend the fabulous Britmums live conference this June 2012. On discovering that my sponsor were setting up at the Toy fair, I considered it my perfect opportunity to check out some of their new “2012” releases. Thankfully, I attended the fair on the last day so it was a lot less busy, as it had been on previous days. I met with a very nice representative of the brand who done an awesome job of showing me around the stand and one by one talking me through the New games. All the games & puzzles sold by Orchard Toys are 100% educational with many of the games being perfect for the child with autism and those with special educational needs. New games include rhyme robber, Dinosaur Race, Rocket Game, Teddy Bear Game, Animal Four In A Box and my favourite Football Game, where players race to score the winning goal. We have recently donated a few the Orchard Games that we were sent to review, to Little man’s special school for children with Aspergers and autism and we will be sharing the feedback with you all soon.

Traditional Garden Games: This was a brand with some very interesting and large games on show! We reviewed the Giant Jenga during the run up to Christmas 2011 (note this was from a different brand)! Traditional garden games had a great version of the game on display called “Jamanga” which consisted of huge soft colourful pieces, making the game more child friendly as well as visually stimulating. Little man loves Jenga and I could see him loving this colourful version, what with its giant foam dice the game is much more inviting for all children with or without autism. A game of Jamange will help the development of social interaction, logical thinking, while improving a child’s fine and gross motor skills.

Phonics Puzzles: These good quality wooden puzzles are great for any child, but could be a god send for the child with special educational needs. Phonics Puzzle 1 & 2 are the perfect introduction to reading and goes hand in hand with the recommendations given by the Department of Education itself. The Puzzles have been tested by parents and their children as well as schools throughout the early years and primary sector and the feedback given to the brand responsible “desi doll” has been nothing less than positive. Phonics teaches children how to recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes as-well as how to identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make, such as “Sh” or “oo” then finally blending these sounds together to make a word. Children can therefore take this knowledge using it to de-code new words that they see, a proven first important step in learning how to read. Phonics puzzles are learning made fun and are a worthy purchase at around £19 retail price.

Rubiks: Children with Aspergers love a mind challenge and many tend to be great at using the part of their brains that helps them to problem solve when it comes to mathematical challenges or the de-coding of puzzles. This is why Rubik’s are great for children like my Little man and John Adams have given Rubik’s a new face for 2012. Players will require logical thinking when trying to guess the masters code hidden pattern of nine hidden colours. This is a two player game and it launched last month January 2012, so is already out there for the taking. If this doesn’t take your fancy you could try the New Rubik’s 2×2 cube.

Kurio: One that I’m eagerly awaiting is the launch of the new “Kurio” by the tablet maker “Inspiration works”. This smart new device is hoping to please both child and adult a like and with more and more children with autism finding it easier to interact & work with touch screen computers, this is likely to be a massive hit in the world of autism and special needs. The Kurio will be powered by Android 4.0 and will be Google approved (so easy access to apps via the Android Market) it will come in a range of sizes (3 in fact) and will each offer a 4GB internal storage with an SD card slot allow it to be taken up to a 32GB. The device will be HDMI compatible and will offer a USB port socket for connection to external devices. Each will feature cameras of different megapixels as well as video recording & playback features. With the product expected to launch by July 2012, I’m pretty excited and so are my children Little man and his sister (who are both already demanding one)!

Science4you: Lastly I thought I would share Science4you a brand trying to get its products played with in the UK. All ready a huge hit within a string of European countries Science4you brings the UK educational affordable kits. What I love about the product and sure the children on the autism spectrum will too, is the fact that each kit doesn’t only come with a detailed instruction guild, but a booklet covering some need to know interesting facts! For example, if you were to choose the “Geology – Volcano” kit then not only would you be able to create your own “geyser” but also learn all the interesting facts, such as the components & structure of the world of volcanoes, plus the composition of the worlds planet surface. I really did like the many kits on display and know my son would especially enjoy the one I have just described. To discover Science4you visit www.science4youtoys.com

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