List of Pedal Kayak Reviews

Virtual Autism

Autism Calling

Please bear with us a moment.

We have a story to tell you. A telling story alright. Germane to the autism correlation to follow.

Good kids with, potentially, bad devices. Over time, really bad devices.

The Hughes Brothers know a talented and compassionate man named Dave. We’ve known him for well more than forty years. We used to play basketball together at the wondrous private school where we taught: half-court, three faculty versus three kids, two of whom went on to play Divisional I ball. We never lost. Not once. In large part because we had Dave..

Tennis, the U.S. Open, the Waldorf Astoria, and some really, really bad devices.

John Howard Hughes left teaching after three rigorous, impossibly rewarding years. But Dave stayed. He’s still there, at that school, no longer teaching the history he loves – American mostly, but European as well and, now and then, ancient, the Greeks and the Romans and the Egyptians.

He coaches tennis. Oh Lord, does he coach tennis. Umpteen Kansas state titles, girls and boys alike, year after year that high school turning out superb athletes who hit the ball hard, well-placed and hard, strategized under days and weeks of Dave’s teaching.


In gratitude for all that he has accomplished, a year ago the parents of the players — current, past, and long past – sent Dave, his wife, and all the youngsters to see the U.S. Open.

Dave sent John Howard a picture of his team, in front of that famous hotel, waiting on a limo there to take them to Forest Hills, to the Open itself, to see the best tennis players in the world have at each other.

Fifteen love. Game. Set. Match.

Dave and his wife are beaming in that photo, full of obvious anticipation. One of the kids seems to share their excitement.

But the others.

The others.

Fifteen of them looking down, transfixed, at the smart phones in their hands.

Stupid, stupid telephony.

The question comes: what, possibly, could be more interesting on those telephonic screens than a night in the Waldorf and the Open waiting a few miles down the road?

For tennis players!

Tennis players.

The World Cancer Research Fund on kids with phones.

We’ll skip past the dozen cancers waiting for young people with the sedentary lifestyles that excess interaction with phones, tablets, and gaming consoles inevitably obtain. We’ll not address the WCRF’s “brain imaging research showing how overuse of screens can affect the brain’s frontal cortex in the same way cocaine does.

We live in a world where over ninety percent of one-year-olds – one-year-olds have already used a mobile device.

Oh my gosh: the collective response from the Hugheses.

Autism among the young, very young social media crowd.

Doctors have been forced to fabricate a new term for little ones over-exposed to digital devices.

Virtual autism.

Behaviors same as autistic.

Case in point: Dr. Leah Light, founder of the Brainchild Institute in Hollywood, Florida, describes the repetitive actions of a two-year-old boy whose parents, concerned and rightly so, brought him to her clinic. The doctors report: “The boy is non-verbal. He does not respond to the calling of his own name. He emits a few repetitive sounds. He appears to be hearing impaired. He makes extremely poor, if any, eye contact. He does not point. He runs out of control. He does not walk quietly. It is very, very difficult to keep him engaged.”

Virtual autism, brought on by an average of four hours of screen time day to day. The little guy’s parents’ explanation for it all: “With a screen in front if his face, we can persuade him to eat, to get dressed, to remain reasonably calm. With that screen he becomes sedated, zoned out, in a world of his own.

Who needs virtual autism?

A powerful question for you, for the Hughes Brothers, for all of us. With the incidence of real autism on the rise, this phone-based nonsense must somehow be stopped.

Your guess thereto is just as good as ours.

Early Intervention Games: Games For Parents And Teachers To Help Young Children Learn Social And Motor Skills

First of all, the Hughes Brothers admire the length of the title. It explains exactly what the book intends to do and, by and large, the book achieves its ends. Written by Barbara Sher, the book is a resource alright: full of games to be played with children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD).

The Games Lady

Barbara Sher is an internationally acclaimed occupational therapist who has specialized in developing children’s natural love of play to enhance sensory, motor and social skills. It seems that happy children over the years, around the world have shouted “Here comes The Games Lady!” upon her arrival at a classroom door, have greeted her so often that she now identifies by that nickname. Ms. Sher emphasizes spontaneity and playful movement, using simple materials, throwaways and recyclables repurposed in endless variations, as learning toys that encourage the retention of lifelong skills. Most of all, the games help children feel comfortable in social situations. Assured that other people welcome and respect and enjoy them, encouraging children to be themselves.

Ms. Sher has conducted workshops around the world, inviting parents and teachers and therapist and children to learn again the wonders of play. Early Intervention Games stands among nine books she has written and compiled, books now translated into ten lanugauges.

The party line.

The Hughes Brothers’ have borrowed heavily in our description of the book from its own marketing materials. Now we take a look at the book just before The Games Lady comes through the door. A frequent complaint came from teachers and therapists with long experience in dealing with children with special needs. These professionals were looking for new games, for games that were not already part of their programs. That said, the Hughes Brothers understand that many ideas in the book more closely resembled, oh, “activities” or “crafts.” So perhaps Ms. Sher’s Games moniker creates some expectations where the word “play” might more closely identify the book’s context.

Other parents, those with children whose disorder falls toward the far extreme of the SDS bell-curve, are happy with the book – knowing that no one source of ideas – can completely address the needs of these particular kids. They found useful ideas here and there throughout the book, without the requirement that it would provide an end-all sort of play.

Still worth the purchase price.

We’ll conclude with a strong recommendation of the book. For these reasons.

· The games can, they truly can, improve the lives of children with autism.

· The games work well in all sorts of interactions – parent with child, teacher with a large group of children, therapist with child.

· The games do assist in the development of hand-eye coordination, of motor and language skills.

· Some of the games adapt well to play in the water: a backyard wading pool, a community swimming pool, a nearby lake.

· The materials used in the game-playing could not be more inexpensive, more readily available.

· The games are free-flowing, adaptable, workable in multiple variations so that all children – regardless of skill level or sensibilities — can be included, all can enjoy.

· The games do extend neuroscientists’ certainty that play can become a profound biological process, capable of shaping and enlarging the brain; meanwhile, the kiddos are just having fun.

· The games profit from Ms. Sher’s shared advice, her gentle and welcoming manner, her obvious concern for the children she seeks to help.

· The games seem to respect the strengths, the individual personalities of children; no lumping together here; the book makes room for youngsters with all kinds of interests.

Read. Learn. Have fun.

Please come to Early Intervention Games with an open heart, with a suspended sense of disbelief. That is, come to this book like a kid.

Early Intervention Games: Fun, Joyful Ways to Develop Social and Motor Skills in Children with Autism Spectrum or Sensory Processing Disorders

Hanging Swing Chair for Kids

The Hughes Brothers have always had a thing for swings. Ours all handmade, in all our favorite hangouts, including a forty-foot rope swing out over Blood Creek, the swings of our boyhood were almost always the beginning – or the near-drowned end – of our adventures.

This swing arrives from a company called Harkla, a company who has assembled here a superior product, a company who has anticipated quite well the needs of a child with autism, a company we have found to be responsive and helpful after the sale. The swing functions equally well as both a sensory and a therapeutic tool.

The best things about the swing

· Comfortable in the extreme: the Hughes Brothers have personal experience in which our little cousins sit therein for hours.

· Safe: the swing is rated for up to 150 pounds of weight.

· Durable: with no shortcuts of any kind in its materials, the swing should provide years of service.

· Workable: the swing delivers an unmistakable calming effect on young children.

· Hassle-free: the swing comes with all necessary accessories – no immediate trips to the hardware store – including ceiling hooks, a carabiner, and an air pump.

· Bonded: the hanging swing chair comes with a lifetime, money-back guarantee. (And the price is right, at eighty bucks full boat.)

The science of the swing.

This swing has been designed for children looking for a secure, reassuring place to hide away for a bit. Inside the swing’s cocoon all is calm, all is right. Relaxation is a given. At the same time, the child is improving a sense of balance, is controlling the body with easy movements back and forth, side to side. With more robust movement, the child can burn off excess energy in a hurry.

Up or down, day or night.

Any swing can help a hyperactive child, channeling her mania of the moment into every higher swoops through the air. This swing in particular can stand up to the hardest use, can withstand the fits of anger, the stiff wills of children with autism. The swing can also ease that child’s fears, can assuage his restlessness at two in the morning. Often, a simple change of venue – bed to swing – will put the child to peaceful, easy sleep.

A word about the constrction of the swing.

We’ve already attested to the durability of the swing’s canvas. Bit it’s soft as well, and softer still with each washing, (cold water, gentle cycle, hang drying). As such, children can take immediate joy in its enveloping touch with, usually, plenty of room for dolls and stuffed animals and other kid items.

A nice afterthought.

The manufacturers have included a free little download entitled, “The Ten Best Ways To Improve Your Child’s Autistic Symptoms. A handy guide, the piece addresses the importance of diet, games that stretch the intelligence, the removal of toxins, and other such topics, before referencing more than fifty studies on autism and childhood development, many of these references also useful to children without ASD.

Or two.

The Hughes Brothers call special attention to the chair-swing’s manufacturer, a company called Harkla, a company that offers therapeutic products of the highest quality for children with anxiety, sleep issues, and special needs such as autism. The lifetime guarantee that we mentioned above applies to all Harkla products, a rare sort of reassurance these days.

Harkla’s mission statements comes immediately to the point, “To help individuals live happy and healthy lives.” That nobility of spirit carries over, big time, to customer service wherein promptness, friendliness, courtesy, product knowledge, and integrity are the watchwords.

The Hughes Brothers recommend Harkla products without reservation.

CLICK FOR MORE INFO: Hanging Swing Chair for Kids – Includes Hardware – Great as a Sensory Swing or Therapy Swing for Autism

Toobaloo Auditory Feedback Phone

A one-of a kind tool. A one-of-a-kind review

Never in the history of The Hughes Brothers Reviews have we devoted an entire review to a product costing but seven dollars.

Look out. Here it comes. And please give a listen. In more ways than one.

Toobaloo Auditory Feedback Phone Review

A reading phone? A reading phone!

The Toobaloo’s manufacturer (Learning Loft) claims, and all sorts of satisfied users – the Brothers included – attest: the Toobaloo will accelerate reading fluency.

But kids being kids, first pick a color – orange, assorted neon, blue, green blue, pink, purple, red, red/purple, or silver.

Now what is the Toobaloo? Why, it’s an educational tool designed to help children learn to read and to enhance speech. Created by a teacher, the Toobaloo gives auditory feedback about reading skills, with particular application to children with autism, auditory processing disorder, stuttering, or dyslexia.

The Toobaloo works its magic that, when children speak into the Toobaloo, they hear themselves, auditory feedback which allows them to make adjustments to fluency and pronunciation. Over time, reading comprehension should improve as well.

Toobaloo Auditory Feedback Phone The Auditory Feedback Loop

The loop involves the process of saying what one hears and hearing what one says. Breakdowns in that loop compromise several learning activities; concentration, reading, and speech allstand at risk of full development. The consequences of a gap in the loop are not pretty. Low self-esteem. Minimal confidence. Heightened anxiety.

Along comes the Toobaloo, designed to provide crystal-clear auditory feedback, supporting and enhancing the Auditory Feedback Loop. Even children without a breakdown in their auditory loop can benefit from enhanced auditory feedback. Hearing their own pronunciation, their pace, their fluctuation while speaking or reading encourages children to adjust, to correct what they hear and say.

The Toobaloo’s potential beneficiaries

Anyone from four years of age to adulthood, classroom teachers, reading teachers, speech pathologists, special education teachers, music teachers, and foreign language teachers. And then children all along the autism spectrum, their parents, and families, and friends.

Its particular benefits.

· Crystalline auditory feedback

· Self-monitored, reading rate, phrasing, and expression (sound, duration, pitch, and stress)

· A boost of confidence in reading and comprehension

· Improved self-regard for readers of all abilities

· Increased fluency

· A motivation to read, resulting from the built-in enjoyment of the Toobaloo

· In the classroom, more opportunities to read aloud, daily even, without disrupting other children

Toobaloo Auditory Feedback Phone Negatives

The only complaint about the Toobaloo that the Brothers have yet encountered.

The Toobaloo breaks too easily. Its plastic construction is insufficiency rugged. It’s not unbreakable.

Perhaps. Perhaps so.

But, friends, let us recall that we’re dealing with an educational tool that costs little more than a large hot Starbucks foo-foo drink.

Surely, a thingamajig at such a painless price point capable of lifting your child’s reading skills and, consequently, your child’s lifetime enjoyment of reading . . . well . . . if that’s not worth seven dollars, even a repeated seven dollars, then the Hughes Brothers have a skewed, an inadmissible value system going here.

We’ll take our chances with the Toobaloo.

For all sorts of children. With all sorts of reading difficulties.

The Hughes Brothers have personal experience with these sorts of young readers. First, we have a young friend who found herself repeating herself. That is, she had reached a comfortable level of accomplishment in both math and reading. The little lady would read a sentence perfectly, but then feel compelled to read it perfectly a second time. And again. And again. Same way with arithmetic. She’d solve a long-division problem accurately. But then, lacking the confidence to attempt a slightly more difficult division problem, she would simply repeated the learned subject matter. Over and over again. After reading her sentence into the Toobaloo, almost immediately she felt the confidence to move forward in her reading. The reassuring sound of her own voice – operating with perfect fluency – encouraged her to read further, to forget the now needless repetition.

We know a second child, a little four-year-old boy, with various speech problems, a child already taking therapy for his difficulties. The Toobaloo replicates some of the work of the therapist, his own voice coming back to him now with nothing but opportunities to pronounce his words accurately and easily.

And lastly, some little buds down the road speak perfectly, above age-level, and always. These kids can talk. And they love their Toobaloo, its feedback somehow reassuring that these kiddos can speak with the best of them. And off the go. Non-stop.

As we say, the most detailed seven-dollar review we’ve ever done.

But we do, we Hughes Brothers believe – with all our hearts – that if there’s the slightest hint in your mind that your little one might benefit from the Toobaloo, it might very well be the best pocket change you’ve ever spent.

PRODUCT INFO:Blue Toobaloo Auditory Feedback Phone – Accelerate reading fluency, comprehension and pronunciation with a reading phone.

Some Ball Chairs Workable For Children With Autism

At the outset, the Hughes Brothers offer these chairs for your consideration without particular endorsement. The following units have proven popular, because each deliver the benefits to be found in a ball chair. These ideally sized seats abet concentration in the classroom and focus at home, as children actively maintain good healthy posture on a balance ball. The chairs reduce fidgeting. They forestall boredom. They sooth restlessness.
Please note: the above virtues apply only when the ball is properly inflated.

The Hughes Brothers have encountered serious problems with taking instruction throughout our lives, but we have learned in our reviewing business the absolute importance of following manufacturers’ guidelines. At the same time, we now understand that the manufacturer often does not provide all the tools necessary for the completion of those guidelines. Nowhere have we seen these two principles more necessary than with these ball chairs.

1) The material used in the construction of the balls demand stretching. Sequential stretching. Stretching accomplished over a three-or-four-day period. Inflation. Partial deflation. Further inflation. And the cycle repeated as necessary with day-long rests in between. The instructions for your particular ball may vary a bit but – trust us! – the ball is almost certainly going to appear too small for the chair’s frame with a single inflation. Do as the manufacturer says. Do exactly as the manufacturer says.

2) Often the pumps that accompany the chairs will prove themselves insufficient to the task at hand. Be prepared to bring a larger bike-tire pump or a foot pump of sort to the task at hand.

On to the chairs themselves then.

Aeromat Junior Ball Chair for Kids

The Aeromat Chair will arrive ready to do the job: compact, light in weight, easily moved from home to classroom and back home again. The ergonomic seating combines the benefits of improved posture with all the promised increase in attention span. The frame is plastic. The properly inflated ball size is fifteen inches. Using the right credit card at sale time could bring the cost of this chair down to just over fifty bucks.

PRODUCT INFO: Aeromat Junior Ball Chair for Kids

Gaiam Kids Balance Ball Chair

Designed for children from preschool through second grade; that is, kiddos between forty-two and fifty-one inches tall, with a total weight limit of 175 pounds. The chair comes with an air pump described as “easy-inflation,” an adjustable back support bar, a secure metal ball holder, and glidable caster wheels. Nice color combination of blue and green, with a price tag right at seventy dollars.

PRODUCT INFO:Gaiam Kids Balance Ball Chair – Classic Children’s Stability Ball Chair, Alternative School Classroom Flexible Desk Seating for Active Students with Satisfaction Guarantee, Purple

CanDo Plastic Ball Chair

Just made for children who experience difficulty in sitting for extended periods of time. Promotes sitting actively, alert and engaged during lessons and reading periods. Removable back, but no arms. With the back gone, the child will confront more of a challenge with balance, further strengthening the child’s core, reducing stress in the effort expended. Casters slide well on both carpeted and hard-surfaced floor. They do not lock. Some light assembly is required with his chair.

PRODUCT INFO: CanDo Plastic Mobile Ball Chair, Child Size, 15″

Sierra Comfort SC-0131 Balance Ball Chair with Backrest

Lightweight, hard plastic chair base with backrest, a unit built for bigger kids. Up to 6’2” as a matter of fact, with 5’2” as a beginning serviceable height. Easily maneuverable with a ball twenty inches at full inflation. Handles loads up to three hundred pounds. The Hughes Brothers have noticed frequent complaints about the ball splitting at the seams, even in early use, even with minimal sorts of collision. Sierra Comfort makes a good product. Let’s hope the company addresses their problem with leakage.

PRODUCT INFO:Sierra Comfort SC-0131 Balance Ball Chair with Backrest, 20 Ball”, Black

You’ll find dozens of options for this type of seating for your child. Price points remain about the same. Your choice all around, it would seem.

Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair – Exercise Stability Yoga Ball Premium Ergonomic Chair for Home and Office Desk with Air Pump, Exercise Guide and Satisfaction Guarantee, Purple

Ball Chairs For Classroom Use By Children With ASD

The Hughes Brothers have just read what seems to be, as far as the Journal of Occupational Therapy is concerned, an early scientific determination of ball chairs’ worth in an academic setting. The Hughes Brothers can right now tell you this much: “The research was indeed scientific.” And further, “It doesn’t tell us much.” Other than that this chair probably deserves your further investigation.

Ball Chairs Review

The following represents our best efforts at translating the graphs, charts, situational analyses, jargon, and over-our-heads sort of inquiry into some – we trust – useful information for you, open-hearted relatives and friends of kids with autism. We’ll do our best here at deciphering and then, in an article to follow immediately, we’ll share a hard look at the ball chairs waiting for your consideration and, perhaps, eventual purchase. The price points here, we hope, will not prove prohibitive to most families.

Ball Chairs Use Study

We cannot by any means call the study “definitive,” and so now here come some qualifications of the results. Per the study, “Given the complexity of behaviors among children along the ASD spectrum, the results of this study reinforce the importance of a thorough occupational analysis, including performance skills, client factors, contexts, and activity demands to increase meaningful participation in classroom activities.” Rather than rote reliance on a study, no matter how detailed, it seems that personal, individual observation of your children in the classroom should determine how the ball chair might bring out the best in them.

The study admitted that ball chairs often create a different set of problems even as they might improve a child’s reception to the lesson at hand. Of course, vigorous bouncing on the ball at inappropriate times constitutes the largest potential liability in the classroom, liability for both the child with autism and for classmates as well. The study emphasized that the child should be allowed to make choices: to sit on the ball chair, or in a conventional desk. And then darn it, equivocation on the point just made: “More research is needed to determine whether children are able to make informed decisions about seating devices.” The Hughes Brothers try to be research-prone, but our studies always involve someone else’s good work previous. Let’s continue.

Ball Chairs Research

Specifically, the study asked that future research “try to better understand the relationship between patterns of sensory processing and positive responses to the use of the therapy ball chair.” We take that to mean, “Put your child on a ball chair, and see what happens.” With full autistic students’ rapt attention to their teachers as the every-school-day goal, “It is clear that the children’s engagement depended not only on their ability to attend and process information but also on an array of environmental factors and the nature of the task. Factors that influenced engagement included teacher absence, behavior of other children, visitors in the classroom, and the nature of the activity.” Factors not able to be controlled in a positive way by a hundred ball chairs.

Now, at our article’s end, the Hughes Brothers can only suggest that you follow us into our second piece, that you take a hard look at how a ball chair might serve your child and your family in settings apart from school. Consider the chair’s possible use at home – during communal family time, during larger family events (parties and reunions and such), and during those hours set aside for your child’s academic homework. We apologize somewhat, having taking you into but one hard, scientific look – with an admittedly too small sampling – only to remind you that you parents, you siblings, you teachers, you selfless people looking to help a child know best. You know so very much the best. As the study concludes itself, “Instead, the results illuminate the complex nature of children with ASD, of behavior and learning, and of occupation and the importance of using sophisticated clinical reasoning skills when making recommendations for interventions in the classroom for children with ASD. Additional research that addresses the relationship of sensory processing patterns and improved classroom participation is indicated before therapy ball chairs should be used as an evidence-based intervention.”

Join us, please, as we shop around for a chair that might be right for your little loved one.

Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair – Exercise Stability Yoga Ball Premium Ergonomic Chair for Home and Office Desk with Air Pump, Exercise Guide and Satisfaction Guarantee, Purple

Yet More Lessons For Us All From Dr. Temple Grandin

Few people in the world are more qualified to speak and write about autism than Temple Grandin, PhD. Ms. Grandin has confronted her autism since early childhood, has done so with accumulating wisdom, it the product of her own prodigious efforts and the knowledgeable, persistent help and encouragement fem her family and her first teachers.

The Hughes Brothers continue now with advice from this remarkable woman.

Dr. Grandin insists that parents and teachers use concrete visual methods to teach numerical concepts. She remembers the set of blocks around which she learned to add and subtract — blocks with different sizes and colors to represent the numbers one through ten. Similarly, she learned basic fractions from a wooden apple cut into pieces.
In some cases, it might be easier — and far better — to skip past the teaching of cursive, even printed, handwriting. The random motor controls that trouble so many little kids with autism can lead to major frustrations with a pen or pencil. Typing, however, comes much easier to these children, and so immediate, direct access to a computer keyboard might solve so many issues surrounding this critical phase of early learning.

Reading presents an altogether different set of problems and potential solutions. Some autistic children will learn to read, quickly and accurately, with the use of phonics. Some others will learn best by memorizing words in their entirety. Still other will respond better to flash cards and picture books, with all the words associated thereto, picture and the printed word on the same side of the card. Simultaneous voicing of the world by parent or teacher is a must.

Protect, as much as possible, the child from sudden, loud sounds. Ms. Grandin remembers a “school bell that hurt my ears like a dentist’s drill hitting a nerve.” All the other aural sensations of academia fit the same category of shock and pain: the public-address system, the buzzers of a basketball game, desks suddenly moved, a teacher’s chair scraping on floor. Who can say what sound might once cause terror in an autistic child, that sound then imprinted, now capable of producing bad behavior each time the child hears it again. If teachers or parents ever observe children covering their ears, an alert should sound in their own minds. Then, various ways of de-sensitizing the child to the noise can begin — everything from somehow muting the sound to recording the sound on a tape recorder, allowing the child to innate the sound, to control its gradual increase in volume, the child always in full control.

Similarly, visual distractions bother some kids with autism. Fluorescent lights, in particular, trouble many children, in their hypersensitivity these children fully, uncomfortably aware of the flickers of sixty-cycle electricity. A couple of possible solutions here: move the child’s work or study table toward natural light, the nearest window or one far away from the subtly blinking fluorescent; use a lamp with an incandescent bulb at the child’s work station; if fluorescent lighting cannot be avoided, use new bulbs through, since the newer the bulb the less the flicker.

The Hughes Brothers have written throughout these pages about the comforts weighted objects bring to children with autism. Hyperactive kids, their fidgeting non-stop, will often calm themselves once wearing a padded, appropriately weighted vest, its gentle pressure slowing the child’s central nervous system.
We Hughes Brothers are always happiest when the ideas we bring for helping children, parents, and teachers arrive in this easy, straightahead
solutions to common problems associated with ASD. Bulbs and vests and flash cards and tape recorders and blocks and keyboards and wooden fruit.
And, of course, we are so very grateful to such pathfinders as the venerable Temple Grandin.

Tips For Parents And Teachers of Autistic Children: From Someone Who Should Know

The Hughes Brothers have expressed our admiration for Temple Grandin elsewhere in the pages. First, for what she taught us a long time ago, about the cattle business. And now, for all she’s teaching us about autism.

Now a professor at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, she published quite a long time ago (2002) an article for the University of Indiana’s Resource Center for Autism, a straightforward, easily understood set of ideas for dealing with young people along the spectrum.

Her ideas come along in a series of tips, of suggestions, of firm but gentle requirements for success.

“Firm but gentle,” her first description in fact of the manner in which parents, teachers, and other authority figures should deal with children with autism. From the beginning. Gentle. Firm.

Structure, structure, structure. She remembers her early childhood, toddler years in which she was not allowed to freely manifest the impulses of her autism but for one hour after lunch. At all other times, her family or her nanny were suggesting and then controlling the activities that filled the hours of her toddler days.
Families should eat together, with the child with autism engaged through these happy times with parents and siblings, practicing good manners, learning to engage and to enjoy. (As Temple herself wrote, “The combination of the nursery school, speech therapy, play activities, and “miss manners” meals added up to forty hours a week, in every one of which my brain was kept connected to the world.”

Visuals. Visuals. Visuals. Professor Grandin emphasizes that many people with autism think visually. “All my thoughts are like videotapes running in my imagination. Pictures are my first language, and words are my second language,” she writes. As a little girl, she liked nouns, found them the easiest words to learn. Makes sense, since nouns represent people, places, and things — all easily visualized. For more abstract words — she uses “up” as an example — she recommends attachment to a visual object. As in , lifting a toy airplane higher and higher after takeoff from a desktop runway, and repeating the word over and over again. “Up . . . up . . . up.” Sometimes, cards help. A card with the word “up” is attached as the toy plane rises, a card with the word “down” as it descends.

Avoid long verbal instructions. Sequence presents problems for many children with autism. Once the child learns to read, instructions might often be written on a nearby piece of paper. Ms. Grandin tells us she can remember only directions of three steps — how to find the nearest gas station, for instance. “I also have difficulty remembering phone numbers because I cannot make a picture in my mind” too.

As a logical corollary, many children with autism exhibit genuine talent for, and an impulse toward, drawing and other sorts of visual artistic expression. (In this regard, the Hughes Brothers were not at all surprised to learn that many people with autism have become ground-breaking computer programmers.)

Parents and teachers should look every day for emerging interests in the children in their care, and then use those interests in motivating the kids in their lessons. Ms Grandin uses trains as an example: “Formulate a math problem according to those interests, calculate how long it takes for a train to go between New York and Washington.”

We’ll pause now to elaborate on that last bulleted point. Instead of focusing on such inabilities or limitations as the child might exhibit, look the other way. Off toward innate talent, interests that can be turned toward the development of skills. Skills that may then contribute to a long, happy life full of achievement and reward.

A Mysterious Austin Product from Tumbl Trak

Most of Tumbl Trak products proceed from founder Doug Davis’ vision. Way back in 1988, he started his company to create innovative mats, bars, beams, and other training ads for gymnastics, cheerleading, and the martial arts. Several products, however, bear consideration for parents of children with ASD. Doug builds his products to a high standard. With price points to match. Here’s one.


Oh Boudex, how shall we describe thee?

Well, you’re a 51”x51”x34” frame wrapped in several layers of Lycra. You were developed by Eileen Richter, a woman with twelve capital letters after her name. She knows her stuff, and so she built the Boundex “to engage children and foster their innate drive to develop and use their bodies as nature intended.” You’re lightweight and mobile. You offer some fine sensory motor activity for babies and young children.

You come with a two-year warranty on materials and workmanship.

The Hughes Brothers are still a bit confused. (Nothing new right there.)

Try as we might, the brothers cannot quite grasp the way this little deal works. So, we’re going to give you the party line here. The manufacturer claims, “The overall impact of the Boundex lies in the exceptional sensory motor experience it offers a child. In simple terms, the following support-to-development is observed as the child moves on the apparatus.”

We’ll do our best to explain this “support-to-development process.

·Somehow, the device “triggers” a kid’s natural impulse to explore. We get that thought, but the Moundex’s creators believe that it will also encourage our little guy to “challenge gravity using the total body.” Okay.

The Boundex will “elongate, activate, and strengthen core muscles of the body.” Good. Good, good.
The Boundex will develop the strength and stability of the shoulders, arms and hands through grasp, weight bearing, and weight shifting. Seems as if the Boundex is making play out of a nice little workout for the kiddo.

The device promotes three-dimensional movement of the child’s hands through expansion and gradation. We guess this means the child is crawling, is using her hands to hold on, to pull herself along.

The Boundex will develop strength and stability of the pelvis, knees and feet “through weight bearing, expansion, weight shift, and gradation, which leads to thee-dimensional, refined movement.” The play process is becoming a bit clearer now. We think your child is bouncing a bit, maintaining his balance on an uneven surface, its movement resulting from the child’s.

The device facilitates stability with mobility throughout the body (no fixing/holding or compensatory patterns)” Well, so much for clarity. Our translation of the proceeding description: the child is reacting to the movement of the device occasioned by her movement just now, and she must find her balance again as she proceeds to play.
The Bondex brings along “vestibular, somatosensory integration promoted with each action for improving balance and coordination.” Friends, we’re not even going to try on this pup. It’s time to admit that we’re not really reviewing this product so much as attempting to serve as translators of the manufacturer’s vernacular. Bear with us. We can do better, although perhaps not in this article alone. Stay tuned.

The Bondex “increases depth and variability of respiration and encourages vocalization.” We’re feeling confident here. Very confident. The Bondex is fun. It’s enjoyable. And so your little one is playing there, breathing a bit hard from his exertion and, darn if he’s not enjoying himself so much that the man laughs and shouts and squeals happy kid noises.

The child’s movement “actively facilitates integration of primitive reflexes allowing the emergence of three-dimensional motor patterns.” The Hughes Brothers know when we’re toasted. Only going to guess that the Boundex promotes more coordinated, stronger, more intuitive movement in the child.
The child’s movements develop “controlled gradation of multiple muscle synergies, i.e. top/bottom, left/right, front/back, diagonal/rotational.” All of life’s major movements right here. We guess.

The Hughes Brothers apologize for the weakness of this review. We’re not giving up, however, and we’ll be back with another attempt at explanation of a fairly expensive playtool ($383). Please go to Look there at the smaller shots below the hero photo. If ever a picture was worth a thousand words (two thousand words in the case of the HBs), it’s here with the Boundex.

At the same time, if you decide to purchase the Boundex, it’d mean the world to us if you did so just after leaving Thanks so much.

Can Autism Be “Edited”?

The Hughes Brothers are way over our heads already. This research stands way on out there, and then some. It comes to us from the Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

Using breakthrough genetic techniques, the scientists at work there report that they have – their word – edited away traits of autism. The results of the trial: a significant reduction of repetitive behavior so frequently associated with the disorder.

The Hughes Brothers remind themselves that these results have, to date, been manifested only in mice. “Mice models” actually, a non-human species studied extensively in an attempt to understand particular biological phenomena, with the expectation that discoveries made in the organism model will provide insight into the workings of other organisms, homo sapiens, included. The tests down in Texas indicate, however, that the editing technique might be developed to treat conditions ranging from epileptic seizures and opioid addiction to schizophrenia and neuropathic pain.

Prepare yourself.

“Technical” doesn’t begin to describe the following.

The researchers injected gold nanoparticles covered in a (another research-specific term) “forest” of DNA chains to alter the genetic code of mouse models with a form of autism called Fragile X Syndrome (FXS).

Here’s the official name for the technique: CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing.

Seems the mice were digging and jumping pretty much non-stop. The edit resulted in in a thirty per cent reduction in the mice’s clawing at the dirt, and a whopping seventy percent reduction in their leaping about.

This jumping over and over again, just like the relentless digging suggest autism.

Our friend, gold

Because the editing DNA arrived attached to gold particles, the researchers could control how much of the crucial Cas9 protein was delivered, this protien the editing agent

According to the team’s leader, Hye Young Lee, “There are no treatments or cures for autism yet, and many of the clinical trials of small-molecule treatments targeting proteins that cause autism have failed. This is the first case where we were able to edit a causal gene for autism in the brain and show rescue of the behavioral symptoms.”

The skeptics take on the research.

The Hughes Brothers are still hiding under cover as we bring you opinion from knowledgeable folks who just don’t want to be disappointed once again.

Some docs worry about comorbidity with Fragile X Syndrome and autism, believing that FXS is a condition in its own right, not simply a form of autism. Consequently, the results of this research do not necessarily address children diagnosed without FXS.

Others don’t think this finding will help suchpeople with non-syndromic ASD. (Syndromic being autism associated with other neurological disorders or syndromes.)

Still other scientists argue that the reported reduction in digging and leaping may not necessarily indicate a reduction in repetitive behavior as opposed to a drop in levels of energy. These doctors wonder that if the San Antonio testing conditions demonstrated that the mice were really channeling their energies into more varied, more productive activities. As opposed to the mice just going oh so slowly to sleep.

Where to from here?

The Hughes Brothers will continue to scour the Net, indeed any reputable source we can find, looking for news of any sort related to Autism Spectrum Disorder. As always, we’re mere reporters on this far-out scientific stuff – although we’re learning how to, we trust, translate the technical language into more widely understood vocabulary. This article was tough. We found ourselves googling every other minute for more information about an unavoidably technical phrase.

You can trust us on product reviews.

Yes, you can. With every product reviewed by the Hughes Brothers, we have concrete, substantial evidence to support our opinions. We write only to best serve these children and the people who love and care for them.