opinion

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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.

#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

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!

Requested Advice – #Equality #Autism

Published December 22, 2012 by mandzmagee

The Situation –

My first piece of requested advice (yay!) has been from a respite carer based in America who has been caring for a 7 year old Autistic lad for four months.  Her problem is that while out and about the little boy has very openly and matter of factly pointed out the differences of other people, it hasn’t mattered on the situation, colour, ability, disability, walking aids, wheelchairs, you name it as soon as a difference is noted the little boy feels that he has to comment on it.  With it not being visible that the little boy himself has Autism the carer has faced verbal assaults, disgusted and judgemental comments and facial expressions, being judged and labelled because she “hasn’t brought up her son properly”.  The family have tried talking to the little boy about how he’s making others feel by doing it, he doesn’t understand or remember this and continues to do it.

Personally I’ve never come across this situation, well, the judgemental people towards my parenting and looks I have but it’s always stemmed from public meltdowns or overly loud screaming etc. it’s never been because of comments about others.  So any advice that someone may be able to offer would be greatly received!!

My Suggestion – 

The way that I would gear Theo up to acceptance of others, if he wasn’t obsessed with the program already, would be to let him watch “Something Special”.  The program is shown on a BBC channel called Cbeebies, which is aimed at children with development delays.  They include the use of Makaton signing (for visual learners), show clips of children with various disabilities and difficulties, cover situations that can seem terrifying to children like the doctors, dentists, hairdressers etc.  Lots of the program is directed to children through song which helps to keep their interest too.  I hope that you’re able to view the video but if you’re not able too try searching http://www.youtube.com to see if there is any that are viewable out of the UK (Damned licensing laws!).  If you are finding these clips available to view there are loads of them on there, plenty of viewing if the little boy will tolerate it!!

Failing that perhaps your SALT could suggest visual books that would be appropriate?

I genuinely believe that the more common and normal it is that children with or without ASD see people with differences the more that differences are accepted!  I hope this helps and I hope that other people come forwards with their suggestions!

#Autism – Guy Fawkes

Published November 8, 2012 by mandzmagee

Each and every year this time of year is a challenging one for our Theo.  He goes through such a mix of feelings and emotions that he absolutely doesn’t understand.  Part of Theo’s Autism is that he doesn’t understand feelings, his own or other peoples so when I can clearly see that he’s terrified at the loud bangs and frightening colours in the sky he can’t seem to comprehend how they’re making his heart race, they’re making him shake uncontrollably, why his bedtime means nothing to the people outside, why the gentle rocking back and forwards that normally calms him isn’t working because he’s still able to hear and see the frightening things.  Thank goodness it only happens normally only once a year!!

This year we thought we’d covered everything.  Unfortunately the blackout blinds in his room weren’t as blackout as we’d hoped and the ear defenders (that were new to him at home) weren’t keeping out all the sounds so it took until the silly o’clock hours to settle him down.  Again Theo being against the norm the later that he settles in bed the earlier that he gets up in the morning!  Joy!

Having a very narky little boy for about 5 days until all the fireworkers stopped playing with their toys Theo finally got a full(ish) nights sleep last night.

On the other side of things we’ve another problem when it comes to Guy Fawkes – Ali and Alex absolutely love the displays of beautiful colours, the bangs that give you that fright of your life even with knowing that they’re coming.

It’s a challenging time of the year however we hope that we’ll find something that will work with Theo that means that it’ll be a more tolerable time for him instead!  Any suggestions are greatly welcome as we’ll no doubt have more fireworks at New Year!

Thanks for reading!  Comments and suggestions are greatly welcome!

David Cameron’s “Rehab Revolution” – #Politics

Published October 23, 2012 by mandzmagee

After sitting watching the news tonight I seen an article about how David Cameron wants high risk prisoners to be given support and education to help them turn their lives around.  He claims that this will be a “Tough but intelligent” approach to make the prison system work, help offenders stop re-offending.

It’s clear to everyone that the prison system is not working and something does need to be done to tackle our over populated prisons.  Is the answer not in the sentencing that is being administered instead of education I wonder though.

For the law abiding citizens of the United Kingdom who are living through this recession that the country is in very few can afford to go into education to better their job prospects.  For that matter there’s very few that can get a job to pay for further education at the same time.  In my opinion the education is being offered to the wrong area of the community entirely.

Mr Cameron went on to say “”We’ll never create a safer society unless we give people, especially young people, opportunities and chances away from crime.”.  Yes Mr Cameron this is entirely true – however taking away the front line youth work in the areas where these young people grow up isn’t exactly giving them the opportunities to be educated and kept away from crime before they’ve even considered committing any is it?

I feel that his targets need to be shifted firstly by making prison seem more of a threat, don’t sit these prisoners down to give them education, get them doing the jobs of maintaining the prison gaining work experience and references to say that they’re willing workers and get sentences to be recognised as something to be feared.

Secondly if the young people are who you want to be educating and helping in the communities, educate them before they’re given the chance to offend, get better youth work provisions put into place especially in areas of deprivation, this will get the young people off the streets where they can be tempted into crime for something to do and give empower them that they can commit themselves to something worthwhile in their life.

It’s important for young people to realise what they’re capable of and what they are able to achieve at a young age, instead of having a label that they get judged over after spending time in a prison in my opinion.

“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!

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