April is Autism Awareness Month and many landmarks around the globe “Lit it Up Blue” this past Monday. Many businesses also showed support by turning their logos blue! As our small contribution, we worked on a special “Snack Time” to help one special school in Orlando, LifeSkills Academy, celebrate Autism Awareness Day. See all the photos and details here.
We had the opportunity to ask Wendy Blair, the school’s director, what her students enjoy as far as activities and toys. So, we thought we would highlight a few in this blog post. One such product is called Zac Browser which is the first internet browser developed specifically for children with autism. Developed by a grandfather as a special gift to his grandson, Zachary, this unique product has served more than 2 million children around the world and can be downloaded for free. What a great story!
Wendy also noted that kids with autism enjoy many of the same toys that other children like and there are a number of great websites specifically devoted to products that offer sensory and/or visual stimulation (we list a number of on-line stores at the end of this post). We enjoyed browsing through these wonderful sites and below are a few of our favorites!
1) We had to mention again the book, “Zac the Prairie Dog” written by S. Charles Decker. Melinda contacted the author and he graciously signed a copy of his book for the children at LifeSkills. To read more about the book, visit our previous post – a must read for all children!
2) Stretchy Puppy – This cute toy looks like it was made to be given along with “Zac the Prairie Dog” book! Puppy stretches and crinkles while his soft nose squeeks and his tail rattles. Offers multiple sensory exploration; for ages 10+ months. MORE INFO
3) Ruff’s House™Teaching Tactile Set is the playful way to help develop sensory learning. Children can reach into the doghouse and feel the different textures as they build fine motor and sensory skills and work on matching, taking turns and sharing. Features a variety of rubber and cloth bones that are smooth, silky, scratchy, bumpy, ridged and more. Includes a dog and twenty 2” bones
(two of each texture), activity guide and plastic doghouse. For ages 3-5. MORE INFO
4) Junior Boy Persona Pail - We are pleased to offer our Persona pail kits which offer creative expression in a “no-fail” approach. Because the stickers come on and off, there is no right or wrong way…just your way! The simple DIY kit improves fine motor skills and promotes art, self expression and also offers sensory stimulation. Also available in a Junior Girl kit; for children over the age of 3. MORE INFO
5) Kimochi (pronounced KEY-MO-CHEE) means “feeling” in Japanese. This fun and powerful communication tool is a great resource for teaching with a small group or for children to have their own personal bag of feelings. Includes 12 feelings, including Happy, Mad, Sad, Loved, Hopeful, Curious, Excited, Sorry, Silly, Sleepy, Cranky and Brave. Each feeling pillow has a word on one side and a facial expression on the other side. Students can hook the keychain onto their backpack and let friends know how they’re feeling inside. MORE INFO
6) Ideal for simple activity instructions, daily reminders and more, Talk Points™ are simple buttons that record and replay up to 10 seconds of clear sound that can even be heard in a busy classroom! Can be used them for phonics, speech and language therapy, intervention, self-assessment, treasure hunts and more. MORE INFO
7) Slamwich, an award winning game, enhances visual discrimination and hand-eye coordination. A must-have for kids hungry for fun! Flip and stack this clever loaf of cards to build slamwiches and double deckers. Age 6+. MORE INFO
Moody Monster-Themed Memory Game stimulates cognitive development by increasing memory, social skills and emotion recognition. 32 big chunky cards. MORE INFO
9) The wonderful organization Autism Speaks provides a wonderful resource section on their website, including suggested books for children with Autism themes. You can view the entire list here; all of the above books are available on Amazon.com
Here’s just a few on-line stores dedicated to providing toys, activities and educational aids to children with autism and special needs:
Fun and Function
National Autism Resources
Autism Treasure Chest