Archive for November, 2008

I’ve recommended this to two people in the last few days so I thought it was time I gave it a review. The P.L.A.Y. project is based in the States and provides play based early intervention for children with autism. It is based on the DIR Floortime approach and is supported by the founder of Floortime Dr Stanley Greenspan. 

Unfortunately in the UK we’re unable to access home consulting (although there is a practitioner in Galway, Ireland), but we can buy a DVD. I bought an older version of this when the P.L.A.Y. project first started which played on my computer without a problem. The DVD was very useful, with lots of video clips of children and their parents taking part in the intervention. I remember the office staff being very helpful as well and they didn’t charge me too much for postage (I seem to remember they didn’t charge any extra at all for being overseas, although I will email to check the postage rate to the UK then update on here when I have a reply). This DVD would be ideal for someone with a young child struggling to access any support or help, but who wants to do something to help. I’m a big fan of Floortime and related approaches and this provides an opportunity to get going quickly. 


I received this reply regarding the postage costs:
“You are correct, if you order one DVD, the shipping is the same–of course bulk orders would be more.”
I’ve also been told that there are a couple of people from the UK who are now trained in the P.L.A.Y project. If you would like their details it’s probably best to contact the P.L.A.Y project direct.


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Ok, this is an interesting and potentially very useful site for those of us in the UK. valerieherskowitz.com/ -a distance SALT! Have a browse of her website, there’s quite a bit of interest on there.

The webinars page is particularly interesting, I’m personally interested in the new approach for teaching sign language. If you click on the class you get further details. If a whole group of parents and/or professionals in the UK wanted to watch one of the classes then Valerie says she would be happy to try and do one at a more convenient time. So contact me if you’re interested and I could send in a group request. 

I asked Valerie whether there was anything she particularly recommended given the difficulties in accessing SALT in the UK and she replied:

Interestingly, we are just about to post our Therapy On the Net service, which is basically therapy and consultations over the net using Skype and web-based meetings. I have clients all over the world (Europe, Australia, etc) and the service works wonderfully. This service may provide some of your families the ability to access services. 

There’s a contact form on the website. Therapy on the Net sounds as if it might be well worth exploring. 


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Earlier today I stumbled across this website; findasitter. It’s not a babysitting agency; it’s a website that allows parents to contact local babysitters. It is run as a social enterprise and was started after the founder struggled to find a babysitter for her child with a chronic condition. There are more details here. Anyone can register as a babysitter but findasitter specialises in babysitters who are confident in working with children with special needs. This means that when you click on a babysitter’s profile you will be able to see clearly whether she or he has experience working with children with special needs.

You can search profiles without registering, but if you want to contact the potential sitter you will need to pay a registration fee of £30. This enables you to contact sitters for a period of one year. Once registered you can also post a job advert. It might be a good way to find tutors or therapists. 

I contacted Sally who runs  findasitter and she says that it has been successful in matching babysitters to families of children with autism. In fact there’s one satisfied customer quoted on the feedback page. 

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This looks good, if pricey. In fact it looks really good. I spotted it a year or so ago but thought that it needed Boardmaker software (which would make it really, really expensive) to run, but it doesn’t. You can take any picture, or set of words, anything you want, put it in the plastic pocket, then record directly onto the plastic pocket. The child (or adult) can then press the plastic pocket in order to initiate the recording. 

So it could be a mini VOCA, or you could use it as an educational toy to teach something like sentence construction, or even as something fun. Archie loves photographs at the moment. With this I could put a photograph into the plastic pocket, of granny and granddad say, then get them to record something. So when Archie pressed the picture of granny he would hear granny talking for example. The possibilities are endless and I have been dreaming about them whilst watching the product video guide. You may need to register to view that training video. 

I haven’t bought it yet. I’m saving up. It’s available in the UK from Inclusive Technology, currently priced at an eye watering £499 plus VAT, although I suspect this may be VAT exempt if purchased for the use of a disabled person. 

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dogpic© Tyler Olson | Dreamstime.com

Many of you will have seen the film After Thomas about a young boy with autism who connects with the world via a dog. It was screened on Boxing Day in 2006. It had some pretty realistic scenes; for example the young boy having a sit in in the middle of the road, providing the entertainment in shoe shops, ¬†family not quite getting it; that sort of thing….. The child was pretty high functioning but I suspect anyone caring for a child from any part of the spectrum will identify with parts of the film. It was well acted as well, worth watching.

I was rather skeptical that Archie could ever bond with a dog as has a sensory aversion to fur. If our (now deceased) cat jumped up on him he would shudder and nervously shout for help: ‘uh uh uh’

However, last week we met up with a friend who happens to be visually impaired and has a guide dog. We went for a walk on Dartmoor and Archie was transfixed by the dog. He ran along the path with him, didn’t try his usual trick of running away and when we arrived home lay down next to the dog with a ‘nun nye’ – his version of goodnight.

In the UK there are now two organisations that have started to train assistance dogs for children with autism. Because these are registered assistance dogs they are able to go into shops with the child. The dog wears a special harness which allows it to be fastened to the child, whilst an adult holds the dog by a lead. This provides an opportunity for children with autism to walk down the street without having to hold an adult’s hand. A small thing, but perhaps something that many of us have never been able to do.

The UK based organisations running autism projects are Dogs for the Disabled and Support Dogs. In Ireland a similar programme has been in place for longer and is run by Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind.

There’s also a good book, Golden Bridge: A Guide to Assistance Dogs for Children Challenged by Autism or Other Developmental Disabilities
about using assistance dogs for children with autism. I’m tempted to try it myself.

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