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

Squeeze Machines, Hug Machines, And The Like

Once before, the Hughes Brothers have begun a review of an autism product – a three-sided toothbrush – by discussing immediately its price, in the brush’s case a paltry five dollars. You should know up front here, in our opinion, that the autism therapy provided in these machines costs as much as six hundred dollars in small, mechanically simple devices for children to more than six thousand dollars for an adult-size, hydraulically controlled model. The Hughes Brothers understand the unavoidable obstacle that sometimes price alone can impose.

A lyrical approach to the squeeze machine

A new book is hitting the autism shelves, How to Build a Hug: Temple Grandin and Her Amazing Squeeze Machine, story of an inventive little girl who wanted to be held, but who didn’t like hugs because, to her, “hugs felt like being stuffed inside the scratchiest sock in the world; like a tidal wave of dentist drills, sandpaper, and awful cologne, coming at her all at once. . . . Then one day, Temple had an idea. If she couldn’t receive a hug, she would make one…she would build a hug machine!”

A technical approach to the squeeze machine

A squeeze machine – also known as a hug box, a squeeze machine, or a squeeze box – is a device bringing deep pressure as a means of calming people with autism who struggle with issues of hypersensitivity. In fact, invented by a woman named Temple Grandin as in the story above, the machine delivers sensory relief for people who find it uncomfortable or impractical to turn to other human beings for comfort.

Fairly simple in its initial construction, the squeeze machine involved two hinged side-boards, each four feet by three feet, covered with thick padding, the two boards forming a V-shape. The user lies between the side-boards and adjusts the pressure therefrom using an air compressor.

The Squeeze Machine from especial Needs

Available on Amazon, the Squeeze Machine theoretically works better than weighted blankets because larger amounts of pressure can be applied over larger areas of the body. The air cylinder maintains constant pressure, even if the user changes position.

Most importantly, the pressure – in its amount and its duration – remains in the strict, precise control of the user.

The Squeeze Machine: The structural details

· 60″ tall, 60″ long and 32″ wide
· Constructed from 13-ply 3/4″ birch plywood, sealed and lacquered for a durable smooth finish
· All edges rounded to ensure safety
· High-quality air controls with multiple safety devices
· Fully adjustable, with more than a foot of adjustment in width at the base
· Slots for comfortable placement of the headrest
· Movable control center
· Pads to accommodate either children or adults
· Supports up to 250 pounds

An enduring hope

The Squeeze Machine’s makers extend the possibility: “Since the machine is designed to feel very much like being held by another person, the device might help the user to accept, and perhaps enjoy, being held or touched by another.”
As a matter of fact, Temple Grandin herself admitted that she no longer uses her invention. “”It broke two years ago, and I never got around to fixing it. I’m into hugging people now.”

Moving Mountains, a child’s squeeze machine

Also available on Amazon and retailing just under seven hundred dollars, this much simplified machine – using bands for tension and pressure – will serve children with issues of touch.
· Adjustable pressure rollers for sensory and massage therapies
· Easily adapts to the child’s specific needs for stimulation
· Cushioned foam rollers for even consistent pressure
· Easily portable
· Vinyl-covered rollers for durable wear and easy cleaning

MORE INFO HERE:Moving Mountains Single Squeezer

Games and Toys for Children with Autism

The Hughes Brothers have observed what you too have long known: a Google or Amazon search for “Toys for Children with Autism” will produce more configurations of soft plastic than three Wal-Marts might ever hold. That said, we’ve picked out, firstly, a game unlike any we’ve seen before and, secondly, a toy collection that to our minds represents the positives and negatives of the genre in a most democratic way, consistent with its cousins on Page, oh, 127 of the Amazon listings.

We begin with a game, a toy that stands alone, as far we know, uncopied.

Pin Art Toy for Autistic Kids

Actually, the longish name of the product (not included here) includes adult participation in the fun, the maker suggesting that this pin art thingee will serve “kiddos as young as eight to adults looking for a great way to kill the time,
hone their creativity, or relieve some stress.”

Pin Art Toy for Autistic Kids Specs

Let’s turn to the specifics.

· An immediate, accessible means of self-expression. In three dimensions. From the most basic of shapes to configurations approaching works of art.

· Simplicity itself: the creativity arises from the pushing of pins into a board that then brings to life all this eye-catching design. From nothing but blacks and chromes come these fulfilling demonstrations of thought and feeling.

· The board a six-inch star shape that, again per the manufacturer, “makes your cool creation stand out even more.”

· Built to last, this star and its pins – the latter designed to remain exactly where you put them, no slipping out hereabouts with these corrosion-resistant stainless steels pins ready for insertion into a board lightweight but still sturdy, sturdy in its hard, enduring plastic; the result, pins that remain year after year, rust-free, unbending, waiting for good times and creative thought.

· Ready to be a semi-permanent item of décor; again, per its makers, “time-honored metal pin art, a great stress-reliever” and, with enough original ideas, “an awesome conversation starter.” (The Hughes Brothers seem to be relying rather heavily on the promotional verbiage of the pin-art games’ creators. To be sure, but only because we agree wholeheartedly with the claims.)

· Soothing means of sharing focus and enjoyable passage of the hours with children all along the autism spectrum.

· Guaranteed product satisfaction; total and complete money-back guarantee; upon any sort of dissatisfaction either an immediate replacement or a full refund of the really quite reasonable fifteen-dollar purchase price.

Any one of your generic “sensory processing, learning resource, anxiety relief, stress reduction, fidgeting” implements.

The Hugheses threw one of Brother Curtis’ competitive darts at a list of the toys described above and, lo and behold, there stuck the page belonging to, of all people, Mr. E=MC2 and his Twelve Tools for Kids. Here’s what will arrive with your order.

Pin Art Toy for Autistic Kids includes

· Big MC’s variety value pack including knobby balls, pencil grips, stretchy string, squeeze ball, puzzle balls, lizards – no fooling, lizards, and there toward the bottom of the package, smiley emoji men

Here are the values toward which the value pack aspires.

· Increased attention, greater focus and construction.

· Reduction of anxiety and, get this!, wiggles.

· Academic applications: increased reading fluency and comprehension, more writing skills.

· Self-regulation for children all along the autism spectrum.

· “Uniquely satisfying tactile sensation.”

· Nice pairing of the elements of this kit with sensory necklaces, chewelry, koosh balls, putty, and sensory weighted blankets or vests.

Mr. E suggests that his purpose throughout remains “an inexpensive starter bundle” so that parents and teachers might locate the specific toys that answer individual kiddos’ individual needs.

Pin Art Toy for Autistic Kids Reviews

And then there come the complaints.

· Cheaply constructed.

· “Not what I expected.”

· And “a complete waste of time.”

This last comment a bit harsh, huh?

The Hughes Brothers recommendation: these sets of toys are a dime a dozen dollars, a hit and miss proposition involving your beloved little one’s likes and dislikes. So. Pick one, much as Curtis’ magic dart, and see what for less than fifteen bucks you might find to like.


MORE INFO HERE:6” Star Pin Art Game for Kids or Adults by ArtCreativity-Pin Art Toy for Autistic Kids-Stainless Steel Metal Pins, Sturdy Plastic Frame-Great Party Favor/Gift for Boys-Girls/Office Desk Decoration

Correction!

The Hughes Brothers apologize for a too-sweeping statement in the review just above. The pin art toy described there is not unique. We just ran across another toy built on the same premise, the Rhode Island Novelty Pin Point Impressions Metal Pin Art. We continue to believe, however, that we reviewed the clearly superior product.

Book: The Autism Playbook for Teens

The Autism Playbook for Teens: Imagination-Based Mindfulness Activities to Calm Yourself, Build Independence, and Connect with Others (The Instant Help Solutions Series)

Today’s nominee for longest book title in the library, the Playbook comes to you with borrowed recommendation from the Hughes Brothers. From John Howard Hughes in particular, the current rancher and erstwhile cowboy, who says, “As soon as I encountered Temple Grandin’s endorsement for the book, I was sold. Sold completely. Temple Grandin taught me more about handling cattle than any other single source, including my family and my neighbors. If she recommends this book, dealing with teenagers now, as a “real, practical and positive guide for reducing stress,” well, that’s more than enough for me.”

The Autism Playbook for Teens Book Review: Acting as a means of dealing with autism

Take the “playbook” of the title literally. The premise here: teenagers with autism can be outstanding actors, given their natural proclivity for observation. Teen girls, in particular, have developed remarkable abilities to witness, to imitate, and to internalize appropriate, effective social behaviors.

Many of the recommended exercises come directly from theater, from the lessons to be taught an actor. The thinking here: such exercises help a teenager with autism learn body language – other people’s and their own – as an expression of deeper feeling; how tone of voice becomes appropriate to various roles; how scripting ahead of time can help a teen arrive at school, at a party or sporting event, with relationship skills already practiced. Or rehearsed rather.

And so the book trots out strategies for mindfulness and scripts for roleplaying, each geared toward the reduction of anxiety, living in the present moment, reduction of fears and, ultimately, real and deep and abiding connections with others.

The playbook addresses head-on the issues of teen life – anxiety, bullying, depression, eating disorders, problems with self-esteem, and trauma of several sorts. A teenager with autism will learn here the coping skills now that will take them into adulthood, meanwhile delivering the tools necessary for finding one’s way through school and home-life.

The Autism Playbook for Teens Book Review: A quick trip through the contents

The book begins with breathing. Teens can learn the immediate, the always there calming effect of meaningful, intentional breathing, breathing as a means of focus and fending off anxious moments.

The Hughes Brothers found Chapter 3 novel and appealing. It deals with what the authors call a “pause button,” a means of confronting a difficult situation by first becoming comfortable with oneself, a minute or two of gathering one’s strength, one’s purpose in dealing with whatever life might send along.

The second part of the book deals with management of thoughts, with finding the energy in one’s feelings, all as building blocks toward true and lasting independence. Chapter 8 here gives very practical, quite useful advice in controlling anger, as the chapter’s title suggests, “Basic Meltdown Prevention.”

Part III of the book looks outward, demonstrating means of connection with other people while retaining control of . . . no, directing one’s own life. In one particularly innovative chapter here, the authors discuss the role that curiosity, simple curiosity might play in enlivening a young person with autism, in finding new sources of intellectual satisfaction, personal interest and, ultimately, joy.

The Autism Playbook for Teens Book Review: A summation

Some of the book’s pronouncements seem obvious, but they bear repeating in the context of a teenager trying to locate himself among social situations that perhaps have troubled him since early childhood. Case in point: a chapter entitled “Practice kindness: Make Friends.”

The book remains one of a kind, however, the only book available for teens with autism combining the comfort and calm of mindfulness skills with an active, a kinetic resource for building authentic social experiences.

And as John Hughes reminds us, “If it’s good enough for Temple Grandin, it’s good enough for me.”


MORE INFO HERE: The Autism Playbook for Teens: Imagination-Based Mindfulness Activities to Calm Yourself, Build Independence, and Connect with Others (The Instant Help Solutions Series)

LUNA Kids Natural Sleep Aid Tablets for Children

The LUNA details.

Made for children four-plus years of age, also sensitive adults (The Hughes Brothers offer no suggestion what constitutes sensitivity in the case of grown-ups.)

Sixty chewable pills in each bottle, usually retailed at $15 or so

Very gentle, entirely safe for children

Herbal ingredients: chamomile, valerian, lemon balm

And melatonin, which LUNA lumps with the other herbs when, truly, melatonin is a hormone, secreted by the pineal gland in the brain

The story of a sleep-aid with some maturity about it.

The principal ingredients in LUNA tablets have been used for centuries to improve sleep. Chamomile and lemon balm bring calming, soothing help to the tired child. Valerian root functions as a mild sedative. All gentle and non-habit forming.

Now about that melatonin.

LUNA claims that “We add a very small amount of melatonin to nudge your child to sleep at night without feeling groggy in the morning.” Okay, fine.

But know this: melatonin inevitably leads to more REM sleep, that deep slumber wherein dreams arise. REM sleep is a phenomenon of normal circadian rhythm (the daily progress of waking hours and sleep in its various cycles), and the dreams do follow.

A consideration about your child’s dreams.

The Hughes Brothers have encountered complaints from parents who admit that the LUNA tables do indeed help their children fall asleep, stay asleep. But. But some of the dreams which follow are no fun at all. Nightmarish in a heart-wrenching way for parents who overhear their child enthralled to a bad, bad dream.

We must caution the post-hoc/propter-hoc logical fallacy here. Just because the poor child suffered through some personal boogymen after taking melatonin, that fact does necessarily that the poor child suffered through some personal boogymen because of taking melatonin.

At the same time, we know children who report fairy-tale dreams, happy endings all around, after using LUNA a half-hour before bedtime.

Your child’s friend, vitamin D.

LUNA tablets bring along a major boost of supplemental vitamin D3. Essential for good health all around, a healthful level of vitamin D has been shown to enhance quality of sleep and, come morning, to uplift kiddos’ mood.

Meanwhile, the tablets themselves are kid-friendly.

Parents, take comfort in LUNA pills popping into little Junior’s eager mouth with no sugar whatsoever, with a flavor of tropical berries that LUNA bets he’s going to like. All natural flavors, of curse, with stevia-leaf extract and xylitol, a sweet-tasting crystalline alcohol derived from xylose, as found in some plant tissues.

Now, about dosages.

The bottle dose says “one tablet twenty or thirty minutes before bedtime.” Some parents have experimented with dosages ranging from a half-tablet for very young or, again, “sensitive” children, while two tables have proven best for teenagers.

Noteworthy: Mike Hughes’ daughters have encountered families wherein whatever dosage has been given is, for some reason or other, interrupted. Each of those families report next-morning regression, after restless sleep and consequent lethargy and rotten mood.

About the price.

Pure melatonin, over the counter, costs less than the average cost for sixty LUNA tablets, but some parents believe that the rather miniscule amount of melatonin here interferes less with the pineal gland’s usual work.

Lastly, about LUNA the company.

The Hughes Brothers admit being softies for sentiment, genuine sentiment, and LUNA manifests such here, there, and all the time. We mean, here’s a pharmaceutical company asking for it all: “You are our beloved customers. And we hope you’ll love us too.” These folks advertise “a new standard of honesty in the health supplement industry.” LUNA insists on third-party testing of every batch of supplements off the line. Good gosh, they seek happiness as a consequence of using their products.

One could do worse.



LUNA Kids | 1 Sleep Aid Tablets for Children 4+ and Sensitive Adults | Naturally Sourced Ingredients | 60 x Chewable Pills | Gentle, Herbal Supplement with Chamomile, Melatonin, Valerian & Lemon Balm

The NASA Sleep Promoting Light Bulb

“Sleep well, astronauts,” this sleep-enhancing bulb says from Houston Control. Few endorsements of any product carry the heft of “NASA,” and if NASA suggests that this light bulb promotes sleep, well then who are we Hughes Brothers to argue. We’re told by the seller, the specialized gift-givers over at Hammacher Schlemmer, that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration uses the bulb “to help astronauts sleep in peace.” Indeed if anyone were deserving of eight solid hours of easy sleep, it would be our nation’s intrepid space travelers.

The Hughes Brothers offer you this review, for adults with sleep difficulties as well as for younger people with ASD.

Our friend, melatonin.

The theory behind the bulb involves the production of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep.

See.

Typical light bulbs emit high levels of short-wavelength blue light that suppresses melatonin. By filtering out the blue light – up to a fifty percent reduction claims HS – the NASA bulb encourages a better night’s sleep. As with so many products developed in NASA labs, a patent covers the filter. Typical use of the bulb would call for a half-hour’s reading or crossword solving by the light of the bulb in a bedside lamp, maintaining the body’s natural circadian rhythm, leading to falling asleep faster and waking more refreshed. (The nine-watt LED gives off the same light as a 65-watt incandescent – perfect light for reading – but lasts, we’re told, up to sixteen times longer.) A lifetime guarantee from Hammacher Schlemmer accompanies the bulb. Whether sleep improves or not.

“Not a bad bulb,” says Mike Hughes.

Mike, the youngest of the Hughes boys, confronts insomnia occasionally after long power-hours at his NASA-strength computer. He used the bulb to “pretty good” effect. “The first couple of nights, the bulb produced no noticeable results. But I persisted, and by week’s end I was most definitely sleeping better. And longer. Far less of the tossing and turning that has bothered me for several years now.”

Two of us older brothers fared even better. Dave Hughes reported “dramatic improvement,” Dave even more sleep-deprived than our little brother. “My first night using the bulb I slept nine hours, waking only once, and then just because of the neighbor’s damn barking dog.” Even loud-mouthed Barky, however, could not prevent our drowsy brother from falling almost immediately back to sleep.

Big bladders help. They really, really do.

James Hughes owns the biggest bladder in the family – hell, in the whole town – and he has heretofore escaped the thrice-nightly pees that plague the continuity of brother John Howard Hughes’ otherwise workable slumber. So James did fall asleep faster, he thinks, over the course of a week’s use, while John – who has always been first to fall asleep – found the bulb no help in countering the urges of a urinary tract he refuses to keep free of evening Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Some sleep problems simply can’t be helped without a fifty-or-so-watt increase in willpower.

Our friends, the holistic medicine crowd.

We Hughess know of friends, consumers of holistic medical care, who first used the bulb because of its non-pharmaceutical nature. Unfortunately, a couple of those folks report no help at all, not in the quickness or the quality or the duration, of their sleep. From our experience, both personal and reported, the bulb does bat at least .750 in a very tough league.

And, its sleep-inducing properties aside, everyone agrees that the soft radiance of the bulb’s light could not be warmer, nor more soothing. One of the Hughes wives mentioned that her complexion had never looked better.

A bit pricey – the cost not a deal-breaker, but a consideration.

Oh, at forty bucks the bulb is a bit pricey. Should it work as intended, however, it will quickly pay for itself with money saved on other, consumable sleep aids. And a final note: the bulb need not be used alone; in conjunction with other sleep stimulators, a very workable package might be discovered.