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#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.

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#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!!

#AutismAwareness – A Very Inspiring Find

Published November 8, 2013 by mandzmagee

Having a scroll down my Facebook friend updates I found myself absolutely inspired by a post that a fantastic UK based Autism Awareness group shared.  Personally I think the author is brilliant in wording her Autism life experience into a comparison that anyone would be able to understand wholeheartedly! I simply had to share with you’s all!! If you’re on Facebook like the group … Their posts are always inspiring!!  Links given at the bottom of the post.

The post went as follows …

Before You Complain

Before you complain about your child waking up too early….
Imagine if your child didn’t sleep at all because their brain and body couldn’t connect correctly…or if they woke up for 3 hours in the middle of the night just because

Before you complain that your child is ignoring you or not listening…
Imagine if your child didn’t acknowledge your presence, didn’t even realize you were there, didn’t respond to their own name or even a loud BANG

Before you complain that your child constantly wants you to play and won’t play by themselves…
Imagine if your child NEVER wanted to play with you or freaked out if you attempted to play with them

Before you complain that your child won’t stop talking….
Imagine if your child couldn’t talk or if your 3+ year old couldn’t even call you mama

Before you complain that your child’s insurance has a deductible or high copay…
Imagine if your child’s insurance had a high deductible and high copays…AND doesn’t even cover what your child needs, even after paying the deductibles and copays

Before you complain about your child throwing a tantrum because they can’t get their way….
Imagine if that tantrum was so extreme that the child was screaming(like they were being tortured) for hours, punching the walls, hitting themselves or you, banging their head on the floor, etc….and even if you give them what they wanted, they are so deep in that meltdown, that it doesn’t help. Or worse, if there’s no apparent reason for the meltdown.

Before you complain that your child had a potty accident….
Imagine if your 10+ year old was still in diapers (that you have to change) because their body doesn’t work right or their body is so undersensitive that they can’t feel when they have to go.

Before you complain that the schools don’t give your child all they need….
Imagine if your child needed special schooling and 20+ hours of therapy per week and wasn’t able to get any of it

Before you complain that your child won’t eat their peas…
Imagine if there were only 4 specific foods that your child would eat(not necessarily because they’re picky) and nothing else.

Before you complain that your child is whining….
Imagine if you couldn’t understand what they were whining about.

Before you complain that your child is too emotional….
Imagine if your child didn’t show any emotion…not even happiness

Before you complain that your child is always catching colds….
Imagine if your child has been to the ER so many times you can even guesstimate how many…you’re on a first name basis with the nurses…you have no clue how many times you’ve answered the exact same questions, sometimes to the same person

Before you complain that you don’t get enough alone time or enough breaks…..
Imagine all of the above….and even less alone time and less breaks because there are only a couple people that can handle your child or know enough about your child to make you feel confident leaving them

Before you complain….
Imagine what other some parents deal with on a daily basis…and never complain or ask for anything for themselves. All they do is pray that their child will get the help they need…and that others might be a little more sensitive.

Wrote by Nikki Hazzard Bumgardner

Links – Will open in another page (if it behaves!)

Autism Storms and Rainbows UK – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Autism-Storms-and-Rainbows/152663228214371

Direct link to the post – http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=260237034123656&id=152663228214371

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!!

The Caregivers Check List and the “You Time” Challenge! – #Caregivers #Parents

Published January 9, 2013 by mandzmagee

Natural feelings and thoughts that can go through a carers head.

These thoughts are what can come from being a completely selfless human being, giving care to a friend or a loved one who is dependant on you and has entrusted you to serve their care duties.  If there is one care giver in this world that states that they haven’t had at least one of these thoughts pop into their heads, I’d be the first person to stand there and tell them that they’re lying.  I myself have felt low, jealous, constantly tired, so on and so forth because I overworked myself and didn’t give myself the chance to have a little bit of “Me Time”.

It wasn’t until I got with Stuart after having years of very limited support with Theo, I realised that I didn’t have to do everything myself, if I was feeling low he’d take Theo out and give me the chance to catch up on some sleep or have a shower or do the dishes or just do something where I didn’t have to be 100% alert as to what he was doing.  I felt guilty as sin that he was doing it and I had no option but to accept the fact that he was doing it because it was his way or no way.

Once I’d gotten over the whole self indulged guilt trip and realised that he was doing a fantastic thing and improving my care for Theo I finally accepted things as they were.  That little bit of time that he was giving me for what ever reason absolutely improved my relationship with Theo, it improved his bond with Theo (to the point where he now classes him as Dad), it also gave him the chance to help Ali, Theo and Alex a better relationship as they all seen that the way forwards was a family unit, not Mummy doing it all.  All round that man has worked wonders for our little family.

However … back to my point … Are you a caregiver that’s felt any of those feelings or had any of those thoughts?  Are you a friend of a caregiver (no matter what the situation is) that has noticed changes that could be fitted around any of those thoughts or feelings in their friend?  Make a difference for yourself and the fantastic work that you do … Have a little bit of “You Time!”.

Before your time of being a care giver, did you have a hobby you used to take part in that you gave up?  Did you have friends that you never get the time to speak too face to face any more?  Did you meditate?  Did you go swimming?  Did you do anything that you’re now always thinking that you’d love just half an hour to yourself to do?    Is there something new you’d like to be able to try?  Do you want to learn how to knit, embroider, cross stitch, play a musical instrument, is there a cupboard that needs cleaned out that would give you so much pleasure out of finally getting it done? … you probably get the point by now …  But this is your chance to grasp it!

If you are lucky enough to have someone that the person you care for and yourself trusts to take over the duties for half an hour, an hour, two hours … probably pushing it but … over night?!  Ask them!  They’ve probably been sitting on the edge of their seats wanting to offer to help out however not wanted to offend you or diminish the fantastic job that you’ve been doing so thought it best to wait until you asked them. (Or if you are that person that would love the opportunity speak to the Angel and offer!).  Lets face it, the worst that can happen is be told “No” … You’ll have been told worse in your life at one point or another!

If you haven’t got anyone that you can turn too, when the person you’re caring for is in bed at night, out at a meeting/school/playgroup or so on n so forth, Grant yourself a little piece of that time to indulge yourself in something for you!  All the other jobs and tasks and routines can be arranged around it, just give yourself that time!!

My challenge to all Caregivers 

Start with half an hour through out a week, even if it’s 5 mins one day, 10 another etc.  Just give yourself that time to get your mind away from the thoughts above and 100% back onto the job.

Think of it along the lines of … You’re not being selfish because you’re doing something for yourself … You are improving the perfection on the care because you have done something for yourself!

In Celebration of #AutismParents and #AutismCarers

Published December 22, 2012 by mandzmagee

A little something I found via a group on Facebook I simply had to share!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Autism-Spectrum-Disorder-through-my-eyes/159306720822434

In Honor Of Autism Parents ♥

Congratulations! You’ve been awarded a new title. You’re super qualified. I know, you’re just a parent. You’re not an SLP, an OT, a PT, or an MD, a Psych or a BCBA.

You’re the person who got up at 4 am because your child only needed 3 hours of sleep last night.

You smiled as you watched him play out his favorite movie script, word for word.

You felt despair as you did everything in your power to convince him to put down his Game Boy and get ready for school.

You revelled in his endless delight with the soap bubbles when he washed his face.

You thought you were going to tear out your hair as you reminded him 40 times to put on his shirt.

You happily made his regular breakfast and cut his waffles into perfect squares with one dot of syrup in the middle, just the way he likes it.

You rejoiced when you watched him and his brother playing and laughing together.

You felt like you were on the verge of insanity when you listened yet again to the baseball statistics and answered the same question 23 times in a row.

You laughed heartily when he told you the weather was going to be poor and he was excited to see lots of Nimbostratus clouds and very few cirrus clouds.

You felt frustration and admiration when you asked him where his lunch bag was and he replied by naming 30 carnivorous dinosaurs, in size order and explained which period they lived in.

You felt pride when you watched him independently organize his school bag and gather his belongings.

You patiently waited 8 minutes for him to tie his shoelaces even though you grew increasingly anxious about the time passing by.

Your heart sang when he looked up at you as he was done, so proud of himself that he had done it alone.

Your eyes brimmed with tears when just before he stepped on the school bus, he turned back and without a word and without any eye contact, he gave you a big hug, letting you know in his own special way how much he loves and appreciates you for everything that you do.

This is the profile of an Absolutely Exceptional Parent. (AEP) So from now when you sign your name, make sure to include your new title…AEP.

– By Jene Aviram, AEP 🙂

This article is property of and copyright © 2003-2007 Jene Aviram of Natural Learning Concepts. http://www.nlconcepts.com/

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!!

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