blogging

All posts tagged blogging

#Autism – Leapfrog LeapReader Review

Published April 4, 2014 by mandzmagee

A child doesn’t have to be on the Autistic Spectrum to be difficult to buy for, however when they’re not able to verbalise what they’d like to have as a new present, or often not willing to accept new things into their lives or a change of activity into their routine without it turning into a melt down it makes it a massive challenge for everyone at times like Christmas and Birthdays.

As we seemed to hit gold with Theo this birthday I thought I’d share a review of his new found favourite educational toy and all the benefit’s we’ve found to go along with it!

Here I introduce to you the LeapReader made by LeapFrog,

LeapReader

LeapReader

LeapFrog http://www.leapfrog.com/en_gb/landingpages/leapreader.html

IMPORTANT

  • Access to the internet is required!

The LeapReader is an audio pen that allows the child to interact with books, maps and activity sets to aid in developing skills such as listening, reading and writing.  Discovering through stories and games with favourite characters such as Disney, Cbeebies, Nickelodeon to name a few in area’s such as Mathematics, Social Studies, Science in a fun and hidden way!

To get started you charge the pen, you are provided with a USB connection lead, connect to an internet accessible computer, and follow the instructions to install LeapFrog Connect.  This tool gives you easy access to the application store where you can find the download resources for the books that you buy.  Connect also gives you a link to the Learning Path which gives you a history of your child’s usage of the LeapReader, details which books are most commonly read, activities most commonly used and suggest new material that your child may be interested in!

World Map

Theo's Collection

Learning Pack

Once you’ve downloaded the audio software for the products that you’ve purchased it’s all go!  Jump from book to book, page to page, map back to book, if it’s installed it’ll automatically recognise the item and take you on that learning adventure.  So the child can just pick it up and play!

The positives that we’ve found with Theo

  • Bigger interest in books
  • More word repetition (maybe doesn’t know how to use the word in sense but has increased his vocabulary!)
  • Improved fine motor skills
  • Improved concentration time on specific subjects
  • Introduced new topics of interest
  • Improved social sharing to include others to read with him

I admit that the books and accessories to go with the LeapReader can be quite expensive however I’ve found that on www.amazon.co.uk you can buy lots cheaper!  You just have to be very careful that you’re buying for the LeapReader and NOT the LeapTag system.

#PersonalLife – “Karaoke Family”

Published December 4, 2013 by mandzmagee

For months since meeting a (newish) best friend after randomly on the walkway at silly o’clock in the morning I’ve started going to Irene’s Karaoke at the club on a Tuesday night for a little bit of me time.  My one night a week respite from all the things that are boiling my brain at home (or away) where I get to have a few drinks and have time with new found friends whilst murdering … sorry … “singing” away with a few tunes and letting my hair down!!  (murdering can sometimes be a more apt description haha!!)

I hadn’t gone to any of her nights last week as I’d been bedridden with the flu the majority of the week, tonight Irene stood and told me how much I was missed and how she and all of her regulars (and there’s a fair few of them!) were now classing me as part of their “Karaoke Family”.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not moved down here and not made any friends but …  I genuinely miss the friends and family that were in my life day in day out though, week in week out and so on, that were up the road that I never see or hear from unless I’m either in Dumfries or have a reason for them or myself to get in touch for special events or what have you these days.  I’ve never really had that with anyone down here tho, all of my mates have been made through Stuart or from working in the bar where they knew me from pulling their pints (not that that’s a bad thing in any which way… only I found this friend myself 🙂 !) … I’ve friends that I could turn too about anything at any time … but they’re not as involved as the one that were up the road if you get what I mean?!

Well Irene, Karlos and Amie (Irene’s partner and daughter) have completely turned that around.  They’re in touch with me as much as I am them, we’re catching up on a regular basis.  If it wasn’t for the Karaoke night’s they’d be in touch or meeting up anyway, we invite each other on nights out (or nights in!), they’ve the same nonjudgmental attitude as I have where absolutely nothing has to be said diplomatically (thank goodness!) …. it’s just said as it is, advice and support is there 24/7/365.

Absolute breath of fresh air!  When she told me (under no pretense) tonight that I was part of the “Karaoke Family” and was missed by everyone when I wasn’t turning up it meant so much to me, really hit home that our friendship was unconditional and that the regulars that came in that I was classing as friends were absolutely there too!  Nice to know that my friendship to her meant as much to her as hers does to me!!

As you’ll be able to tell … I’ve had a brilliant night … the ones with brilliant friends always are!!

#Autism – #Halloween, #GuyFawkes and the problems they bring!

Published November 22, 2013 by mandzmagee

Oh the issues in our house around this time of the year!!

Theo doesn’t like dressing up, doesn’t like the door being knocked on making the dog’s bark, doesn’t like seeing other people dressed up so that he doesn’t know who they are so Halloween certainly is a challenging time for the poor little soul.  It’s even worse when less than a week later we celebrate Guy Fawkes and his escapades by lighting fireworks that light up the sky and make noises when it’s supposed to be Theo’s down time.

I’m absolutely at my wick’s end around bonfire night (Guy Fawkes) because Theo’s anxiety levels are so high they’re lunar and he’s absolutely terrified.  The only way he can settle is by going to bed listening to the radio on his ear defenders and closing his eyes so tightly it’s uncomfortable to settle.  The sensory overload of visual and audible unpredictability for hours and hours of the night makes him so scared within his own safe space.

The curtain’s have to be closed that he can’t see any little piece of window pane, he has to be under a blanket incase he needs to hide his face if there’s too many flashes at once, his ear defenders have to play the radio … just incase they don’t block out all the noise!  I can’t be too far away from him, infact he almost insists on constant body contact with me, this year he cried every and I mean EVERY time Dad left the house.  Unfortunately when he’s had an upset like this it can take weeks … And I mean weeks … All this began 5th November and he’s still having troubles from the night …  He still doesn’t feel safe in his home 😦

It’s absolutely heart wrenching to watch him so upset knowing that there’s absolutely nothing that we’re able to do to make it all better.  I genuinely wish that organised events away from our house were all that was available to the people celebrating and that they were as far away from Theo’s safe space so that he was oblivious to what was going on.

Here’s a little look at him trying to get settled for the night …

https://www.dropbox.com/sc/qs7vfvaii6w8lxj/0HqCQ-vp5h

When You’ve Met One Person With #Autism

Published January 16, 2013 by mandzmagee

Over the past few weeks I’ve spent time with people who’ve wanted to learn more about ASD.  It’s been interesting hearing what their perceptions about it has been and where they learn their perceptions from.  After finding out how they base all their knowledge on films such as “Rain Man” and “Mercury Rising” and the such likes, I begin to tell them about Theo’s daily routines and how life is for him.

I try to express as strongly as possible that “When you’ve met one person with Autism, You’ve met ONE person with Autism”.

I could talk forever and a day about Theo, about how life is different for his siblings and our family.  I could talk forever and a day about how if his routine is messed up it can take from hours to days to try and settle him back into his normality depending on how upset and anxious this change has made him.  I could talk about how moving from Dumfries to Washington has made such a dramatic impact on his development that the things I was told he’d “never achieve” have been accomplished and how he’s surpassed his believers expectations never mind the disbelievers.

I always come back to the same line however “When you’ve met Theo, You’ve only met Theo”.

It doesn’t matter if you know a million and one children with ASD, you still know another million and one more that have ASD affect their lives in different ways to the first lot!

I’ve found myself suggesting groups and blogs to people via facebook and I came across one group which I found perfect to reference people too, people with ASD, parents, carers, family members have all posted up a picture of “The hidden disability” and a little bio of the person with ASD’s likes and dislikes.  It shows how such a small label is different in such a vast variety of ways.  It’s also very very humbling to read.  The page is available here … https://www.facebook.com/AutismShines?ref=ts&fref=ts

I absolutely encourage you to help your knowledge of Autism grow and develop by looking at the page!!

Over the past year – #Family #Life

Published December 21, 2012 by mandzmagee

I’ve been sitting thinking back across the past year and well what a year it’s been!!

Stu and I have continued to grow and develop as a couple, yeah we’ve had our ups and downs but we’ve always been there for each other and no matter how difficult things have been we’ve supported each other through everything.  He’s an amazing person, I don’t know what I’d ever do without him.

Alisdair is forever turning into the young man, which is absolutely making me feel so old but I genuinely couldn’t be any more proud of him either.  He took his options for his GCSE’s at school and has stuck in doing really well at reaching target grades, well all except PE but lets be fair, it’s not everyone’s forte!  He spent the best part of 6 weeks in Europe with his Dad’s family living experiences I can only dream of and shared all of them with us when he got back, so proud of his photo’s and treasures that he bought along the way.  He goes with them every year for the summer holidays from school and it’s a long time to be away from him but hearing his stories and seeing how happy he is and sharing all the knowledge he’s gained it genuinely makes it such an amazing experience for us also!

Theo, well what can I say about him, every day he continues to strive, develop, surprise, frustrate, however most of all, make us smile!  His speech has absolutely came on, fair enough it may only be the people that’s around him every day that understands him but the progress has been amazing.  He’s grown in confidence in different situations, our holiday to Southerness for example, we were so worried that the change to his routine would have knocked him for six but he settled absolutely fine!  He didn’t care that he was away from home, he absolutely loved seeing his family that he hadn’t seen in years having remembered all of them and called them by name (in his “language”) without being prompted too!  He’s became more acceptant to playing with others and sharing his toys, which was a massive no-no this time last year!  On the whole it’s been a fantastic year for his progress and is ending the year as a happier and more confident, loving boy.

Alex, he too has developed massively, he’s genuinely such an intelligent child!  Having started year 1 at school his reading and imagination work has been truly unbelievable!  His confidence has been a little patchy but we’re working on that and have seen it grow and develop before our eyes too.  You’d swear that the little man has been here before!  He’s forever reminiscing about things we’ve all done together and relaying absolutely EVERY little detail about what’s happened, he’s like a walking diary for his life!  His Mammy is going to be having a baby in a few months and he’s never been more proud about going to have a little brother, it’s so lovely to see the pride in him telling our friends and family that he’s going to be a big brother.  It brings a tear to my eye every time!

Unfortunately it’s not all been high’s along the way this year, we lost a dear friend Jimmy within weeks of receiving a diagnosis of cancer in the stomach.  My Uncle Sandy to natural causes, I hadn’t seen him in such a long time but it absolutely hadn’t eased the pain of saying goodbye.  Then of course my Uncle Bill a couple of months later.  Uncle Bill went through a long ongoing struggle of alzheimer’s and other medical issues it was just a matter of time, again however, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve got to prepare yourself it doesn’t hurt any less.

Death may take away the person but nothing takes away the love and memories!

Over the years we’ve all lost friends, family and loved ones.  I absolutely believe we’ll see them again, and I know that this Christmas they’ll all be celebrating together and making sure that my Ickle Bubbs is having a fantastic time until we’re all together again.

I want to thank all of my family and friends for being there for me through out the year.  I love and appreciate you’s each in your own little ways!!

Stacey P – For seeming to always have a day off for bringing me back home from Dumfries!!  Coming down and keeping the friendship and bond with the family and me even with the miles between us!!

Kenty – Just for being you in general, you’re always the sensible one to talk too.  You make time for us when we need you and well our debates are always fantastic – we’ll always be able to agree to disagree after a few hours (and drinks!)  haha!!  You were my best friend down here before I even met ya!!

Lucy and John – You’ve also both been there for me since before I moved here, it’s ridiculous that we only live around the corner and never see each other.  I was so proud to have been invited to your wedding, the kids and you’s were so beautiful, it couldn’t have meant more to have been there to celebrate the day with you all!!

Tammy and Ecky – You’s are like my sisters and I love you’s unconditionally forever more.  You’s have dragged me out of the darkest of times and are always at the other end of the phone.  We just need to see each other more often!!

Jackson and Jasmine – Always my little miracles, growing up far too quickly and it doesn’t matter what you’s are going through I’m ALWAYS here for you’s!!  Just a phone call gets me there as soon as I can be!!

Kirsty –  I know we’re not in touch as much as we should be but with what we’ve been through in our lives together I simply can’t class you as anything less than a best friend.  Your friendship has always meant the world to me and again, we just need to see each other and keep in touch more often!  I have to admit tho, when we do get together it’s as if we’ve just picked up where we left it the last time!

Marion – I spent years wondering about you and I’m so pleased that you’ve been able to step back into our lives.  I don’t need to go into detail about how much it’s actually meant but you’ve helped so much you’d not believe!

If I’ve not mentioned you – well this is a big enough essay already haha!!  Those that I love and respect know it.

I wish you’s all a fantastic Christmas, a brilliant Hogmanay (you can take the girl outta Scotland, not Scotland out of the girl however haha!!) and all the best for a fantastic and magical 2013!!  Love and hugs to you all!!

Theo’s Education #Autism

Published October 18, 2012 by mandzmagee

Before we moved to Washington Theo’s schooling was an absolute nightmare.  He was stuck in a mainstream school that had a Learning Centre that was for children with additional needs.  He had a one to one support worker called Mrs Herries, she was an angel with invisible wings!  He really took to her and stopped having anxiety attacks leaving me because he loved her company, she lifted such a massive weight off my shoulders it was unreal!  The head teacher of the Learning Centre however was her absolute opposite, I call her “The Battle Axe”, (I called her it to her face so I’m not being two faced!).  This woman wouldn’t accept help from Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Sleep Therapists, no one and nothing was up to her extended knowledge of children who were needing additional support.  Her idea of a school day was for Theo and his angel to go walks as soon as he showed signs of being stressed – normally this was spending five minutes in her company!).

The Battle Axe told me nothing other than “Theo will never do this”, “Theo will never accomplish that”, negative, negative, negative! The best line she ever came out with was “Miss Magee is such an incompetent mother, it’s the lack of parenting skills that has stunted his development.”, I couldn’t speak to her at the time, I couldn’t trust myself not to bite her head off and stick it where the sun didn’t shine!

He was only there for two years, then Stuart and I decided that we were moving to Washington, it was killing him being away from his son for as long after being used to seeing him every day.  When we made our decision that we were going to move my eyes were opened up to see what a different educational life Theo was going to have.

After we’d found a house and got all the moving dates sorted out we had a meeting education for both Ali and Theo was next on the agenda.  Alisdair was going up into secondary school – massive step for him that was coming several months early with the difference in the education systems in Scotland and England.  Alisdair was a bit nervous about it – he knew he wasn’t up to the same levels of learning because he was basically missing a year out.  He coped with the move fantastically though, the support that they were giving him for his Dyslexia was amazing in comparison with Scotland!

Theo on the other hand was going to be starting a specialist school for children on the Autistic Spectrum.  I met with the Head Teacher and his Class before he started and I was absolutely amazed at the school.  The head was very proud to tell me that the school was one of the top five in the country, I completely understood her pride!  I went onto be introduced to the Speech and Language Therapist and Occupational Therapist who were based at the school.  I had to double check that I’d heard that right and it was true, they were infact based at the school!  We’d only received a letter from SALT at the beginning of the school year to say that Theo was on a waiting list for SALT in Dumfries as he wasn’t a priority.  To actually have this support on site, every day he was at school, absolutely amazed me!

Theo’s class was fantastic, there was him and seven other children in his class.  One teacher and three – yes three learning assistants!  Each one of them were amazing, not one of them questioned Theo’s Autism, they were all filling in his home to school diary with all the positive things that he’d achieved, what they were going to be trying to do with him next, I genuinely couldn’t believe there wasn’t a system put into place like this in Dumfries with the amount of ASD children there is there!

The activities that the school were involved with amazed me too, horse riding every week, swimming every other term, football coaching from the professional coaches and players at Sunderland Athletic Football Club, just to name a few!!

Over the past three years both Theo and the school has completely blew me away.  Nothing is ever negative, I never hear what he wont achieve, I never hear what he’ll never be able to do.  If there is something that is becoming an issue the school consults with me then we as a team put a strategy together for to try and help him.

Today I received his school review and it’s been very tear jerking to read!  He’s made phenomenal progress, when I sit and compare the difference between the two schools where there’s only just over 100 miles between them it astounds me the differences.  Even the differences in him, he is now a much more confident little boy, has learned self calming techniques so he’s able to participate so much in other things that before were just never possible!  He’s truly amazed me and does so every day!

“We can cure your childs #Autism” – Oh really?!

Published October 13, 2012 by mandzmagee

I’ve received email upon email, direct message upon direct message, letter upon letter from companies telling me that they know the definite cure to my sons Autism!

Fantastic!! However don’t you think that if there was an absolute cure for ASD it would be wider known about, Doctors would be shouting about it from the rooftops and there would be a much smaller community of people who’re looking for support and advice?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying if you find something that might work to benefit your child don’t use it, or suggest it to others to try out. What I am saying is be careful that you’re not being exploited by a company that can promise the world but just offer you the advice that the specialists that your child is working with could give you for free.

Not long ago on one of the community channels on Sky TV I came across a program that was giving out fantastic idea’s, tips and tricks to try with Theo, a lot of the episode that I watched fitted in with a lot of the things that Theo was needing support with at the time however they’d get to the end of the report and then stop talking about the suggestions – Their main suggestion was signing up to get the full information on the website – which was £30 per year. Eh ehhhhh – you can keep your website – I’ll just google search the answers after watching the show and source them else where – FOR NOTHING!!

If you find a brand that you think might be suited to you, make sure that you take the following into consideration first …

  • Check on forums for people who have used it before – get their thoughts and experiences!
  • Search around online as many companies work under numerous names and different fee’s!
  • Speak to your specialists – they may be able to help you without you having to put your hands in your pockets!

If you do find something that works – share it!  On forums, blog about it, post up reviews and link to them (there is far too many reviews on service providers websites that have been written by themselves!).  Your input could help other people!

%d bloggers like this: