Tag Archives: Netbuddy

Cheap and cheerful holiday activities

Your Easter budget might not stretch to Disneyland, but our friends at Netbuddy (now part of Scope) have come up with some great ideas for entertaining kids on a shoe string. Please add your own suggestions to this list and share nicely!

Treasure hunt

I enjoy going on a treasure hunt with my kids. The other day we collected sticks to make a pretend camp fire. Other times the ‘treasure’ has been stones or daisies. It’s a good, inclusive activity they all enjoy.

Glitter party

Poppy has very little fine motor skills and struggles with most art and craft activities. So I stuck some wrapping paper to the wall and we made hand-prints on it. Then we covered in glue and threw glitter at. Messy but great fun!

KnittingKnitacise

Knitting is great to exercise hand writing motor skills.

 

Rubbish instruments

Raid the recycling and make some musical instruments. Fill jars and plastic containers with rice to make shakers, elastic bands over a box can make a great guitar and balloons stretched over tubs for some bangin’ drums!

Make a den

My daughter loves it if we put a sheet over the dining table and make a den. I bring some of her sensory lights in and we all sit underneath. Her non-disabled brothers think it’s great too!

A real catch

A velcro ball and catch mitt set has been fantastic for my son who is unable to catch a regular ball. Great for fun, cause and effect and coordination. Ours was under £5 from eBay – check out ‘Spordas No Miss’.

Deflated balloonsFun with balloons

Fill two balloons (one inside the other) with sand or flour for a fun, sensory activity.

Retail therapy

A great free activity for a rainy day … the Argos catalogue! Harris and I poured over the pictures. Lots of opportunity for conversation, it was a bit like retail therapy except, since Harris doesn’t understand the concept of shopping, so no money was spent.

Electronic sounds

Electronic instruments are great for people who like making a lot of sound (banging furniture etc). They can make as much noise as they like with the head phones on and no one else has to hear it! You can get drum kits /keyboards etc.

Cheerio necklace

Try threading cheerios on a liquorice lace to make an edible necklace.

Strawberries, blackberries and bluecurrantsBerry tasty paint

Squash strawberries, blackberries, rasberries, blueberries etc to make a tasty paint.  Mix together the colours and tastes.  Great messy fun!

Word games

We’ve been using words on the back of paper-clipped paper fish with a magnetic fishing rod to make a game out of reading.

Matching pairs game

Use a digital camera to make your own cards for this game. you can photograph your own matching pairs ie your dog, your home, family, etc You’ll need two of each.

Make some thunder

“Thunder makers” are brilliant. I got mine at Hawkins Bazaar for around £8, you just give it a shake and it sounds like a low rumble of thunder, the harder you shake the louder it gets. (Be warned though they are addictive!)

Feeling art

For visually impaired people, try adding things likes sand or beads to enable them to feel their artwork. Be consistent and stick to the same textures for colours: sand for yellow, smalls beads are green etc.

pastry brushFind the alternative

Sal finds it difficult to hold small objects, so I gave her pastry brushes instead of small paint brushes for painting.

Rice is nice

Fill a bin with rice and let your child plunge their hands deep into it. Hide some toys and measuring cups for added fun. Dried beans also work well.

Make your own

I made my own 3-D letters, numbers and words in colours that Margy likes best to teach her to read. You can laminate or cover in plastic so they last longer.

Activity frame for wheelchairs

The frame from a small child’s swing makes a great frame to hang stuff from to go over a wheelchair as it is stable and can be folded for easy storage.

BlackboardDrawing wall

Stick some blank paper on a wall somewhere and turn it into a ‘graffiti wall’. You can also paint a wall with blackboard paint or put up a big white board for graffiti fun.

Home skittles

Use guttering to make a chute to play skittles.

Foil play mat

We use a foil emergency blanket as play matt for Matty –   it is great for sensory stimulation as it is shiny and makes nice sounds.

Black and white photo of family watching TV in 1950sCinema Club

Turn your house into a cinema. Choose a DVD together (bought or borrowed from the local library), make tickets, posters etc. Invite friends if you’ve got the space and then make popcorn, close the curtains and enjoy!

Paint with smells

I like to do ‘smelly painting collages’ with my daughter.  Using mint sauce, coffee, chocolate, sherbert etc.  We’ve also tried making a pulp from grass by adding a bit of water to it.  My daughter is visually impaired so it really helps bring the world to her.

Weighted toy

Weighted blankets and objects can exert a calming influence on some people. Try taking an old favourite stuffed toy and filling its paws and tummy with curtain weights, nuts and bolts or other heavy items. Great for sitting on people’s laps when they’re feeling jumpy.

Sensory album

We made our own sensory scrapbook. We stuck sensory bits and pieces alongside our own photos in an album to make it personal.

Make your own film

Use your camcorder to make a ‘film’ of a favourite book. We did The Tiger Who Came to Tea, using a toy stuffed tiger, shots of our table set up for tea, empty food packets, and a homemade cardboard claw peeking round the front door. You can do lots of voiceovers to explain what is happening, or do it documentary-style and interview the Mummy, the child, the cafe owner, Daddy, the Tiger etc.

Dance competitionChild dancing wearing hat

Put on the music and have a dance competition.

Toy libraries

Toy libraries are great for borrowing special needs toys and equipment. Much cheaper than buying. To find a toy library near you, contact the National Association of Toy and Leisure Library’s Helpline Services: tel: 020 7255 4616 or email: helpline@playmatters.co.uk

 Sensory flour games

I mix cornflour and water together and it makes a great sensory play tool. Also put flour into a plastic bag and seal it with some food colouring. As it gets squished round it will change colour.

Fluorescent images

We have installed a UV light in our dark hallway and use fluorescent cards with shapes cut out to stimulate Ruby who is visually impaired. As she gets older we are turning shapes into letters, words, numerals, books.

Enticing smells

Put good smells in paint or playdough to make it more interesting.

We’d love to hear your cheap ‘n cheerful tips for Easter. Please share your own ideas in the comments box below.

A letter to my mother, my brother’s carer – #100days100stories

To mark Down’s syndrome awareness week, we’re publishing this story by Emma Sterland, who works on Scope’s online community. It was first published in the Guardian, and we’re sharing it here as part of our 100 Days, 100 Stories campaign.

You knew something wasn’t right before anyone else did.

You kept calling the nurses over, but he was always asleep when they came. You wanted them to see his eyes, but he always had them closed. They smiled and put it down to new-mum nerves, but you knew.

“Your son is a congenital idiot,” were the doctor’s carefully chosen words. They are as sharply etched now as they were 54 years ago. “Best to wipe the slate clean and start again.” You were young and newly married. This was 1956 and mental institutions were still the norm. No one expected you to take him home. But you did.

You had to feed him round the clock, he was so slow to eat. It took him a long time to reach the milestones other parents took for granted – rolling over, sitting, holding a spoon – but you knew he’d get there. And you delighted in his achievements, no matter how small they might have seemed to others.

He was “ineducable” but you taught him to read and write. You showed him how to keep a diary and encouraged him to write thank-you letters. He was a little clumsy, but he loved to help. You’d give him a big bowl of peas to shell or have him rolling socks into pairs.

Having a child with Down’s syndrome was nothing to be proud of then. But he was your firstborn and you were proud of him. When a friend asked him to be the page boy at her wedding, you wrote an article in this newspaper about it.

He was seven when I was born. By then, you’d learned to ignore unkind remarks, so when a neighbour peered into my pram and said, “See you’ve got it out of your system then,” you just smiled.

You say he adored his baby sister and was always eager to hold me. He was the perfect play companion – patiently returning toys I’d chuck out of my cot. I have happy memories of camps he and I built together under the dining room table.

When my younger brother was born, your family was complete. You had three of us to look after, each with our own separate needs. You made it look effortless, but I realise, now, how much work you put in.

I didn’t really mind people being curious about my brother. I never felt ashamed of him. Even as a sensitive teenager, I wouldn’t flinch when he wore his Batman costume to the beach or stood up in the cinema to wave at his favourite characters. I took my cue from you. It made him happy – where was the harm?

But sometimes I just wanted to be like everyone else. You gave me the space to do that. Somehow you made us all feel special and important. I know, from hearing other people’s experiences, how hard that can be in families with disabled children.

You taught me some of the most valuable lessons I’ll ever learn. You showed me that everyone has their own contribution to make, whatever their ability. You taught me about tolerance and compassion. And, above all, you showed me how to get on with life, even when it throws you the unexpected.

At 78, you’re still caring for my brother. You take him to his clubs and his horse-riding, and you massage his arthritic feet. You’re still proud of him after all these years. You show me things he’s made at his day centre and tell me funny things he’s said. You should be taking it easy now, but you’re still a full-time mum.

I know there are many others like you, who’ve had a lifetime of looking after their sons and daughters – a lifetime of putting someone else’s needs before their own. I salute you all.

Find out more about 100 Days, 100 Stories, and read the rest of the stories so far.

 

How to keep your relationship strong

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and love is in the air, but if you have a disabled child, you may find your relationship takes a back seat. Parenting a disabled child can put a significant strain on your partnership, so take a look at some of these top tips from the Netbuddy community (now part of Scope):

Parents of a disabled child sitting close together

Keep talking

It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut where all you talk about is the kids, appointments, work and domestic stuff. Make sure you keep talking about all the other interesting things that once brought you together and interests you share. Don’t let that go!

Trust your partner to parent

Trust your partner to parent. Sometimes we shut them out and do things ourselves without giving them a chance.

Do something nice every day

When we married, my husband and I vowed that we would endeavour to do something nice for each other every day, small tokens like making a drink or running a bath. In turn, the other person would always appreciate this effort and thank them, not taking it for granted.

Make time

Try to make time as a couple, even if it’s only to have a chat over a cup of tea once the children are in bed. Talk and listen to each other. Washing up can wait!

Make light

My husband and I play a game where we place bets with each other which of our three disabled children will wake/kick off etc at what times. The ‘winner’ gets a treat from the other partner. Sounds silly, but making light of intensely stressful situations really does help us cope.

Keep communication open

Have an agreed plan of how to manage your child and keep communication open between yourselves.

Think positive

Learn how to think positive in moments of stress.

Family with a daughter in a wheelchairShare it with your best friend

You have to learn to laugh through the stress together or it will crush your relationship. There are ups and downs daily. Communicate everything … fear, anger, humour. Cry, laugh, love, share with your best friend.

No blame

Communication is the key to everything. Understanding that sometimes we get it wrong and not blaming each other.

Share issues

Make sure you both understand your child’s condition and what it means, so you can talk about how to approach issues. When one of you works full time and the other goes to all the appointments, it’s easy for the working partner to feel pushed out and in the dark. That can lead to them giving up trying, so the full-time carer feels unsupported.

Play to each others’ strengths

Play to each others’ strengths. I’m good at paperwork. Hubby is great at housework. So I sort school letters, DLA forms, statements etc. Hubby hoovers, mops etc.

RespectHappy couple with disabled child

Respect is very important. Respect your partner’s opinions even if you don’t share them. That will allow you to move on through disagreements and focus on the positives.

Leave a note

Leave messages around the house for each other to find, reminding the partner how they are appreciated/loved … or sending a text message.

Let them help

Let your partner help when they can. Yes, they may do things differently, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Communicate your feelings

Dealing with the stress involved with having a child (disabled or not) amplifies any problems that already exist. Every day I thank my lucky stars that my wife is with me and that my daughter is well … and I tell them both as often as I can that I love them and appreciate all they do. My tips would be communicate, listen and support.

Ask yourself …

‘What is the one thing I can do this week that will make my partner feel special?’ and plan time in the diary to do it.

Sleep on it

Sleep is very important. If you are both sleep deprived, arguments are much more likely to happen. Try taking it in turns to get up at night so one person always has a full night’s sleep.

To see more great relationship tips, and to add your own, please visit netbuddy.org.uk

Let’s talk about sex!

It’s hard to escape the heart-shaped balloons and teddy bears at this time of year but just how many of us have had ‘the conversation’ with our children, says Netbuddy’s sex and relationships expert Gill Leno?

Why people with learning disabilities deserve good sex and relationships education

Gill Leno

Sex and relationships education can be hit and miss at the best of times. Even in mainstream schools it’s fair to say that it can be inconsistent; young people frequently report that it’s too little, too late, and too focused on the biological end of things.

For children and young people with learning disabilities, a good, well-rounded awareness of sex and relationships is particularly important as it helps to protect against abuse and exploitation. It also helps in learning about appropriate behaviour, and making positive choices both sexually and socially.

Good sex and relationships education allows children to explore their bodies and their sexuality in a safer way, by giving them facts and information. Sexuality is a deeply personal thing, and learning how to express it is important for all young people, regardless of disability. Educating children and young people about sex in a positive, non-biased means they will have the same information as their peers in mainstream education. Sex education that is given in an accessible and inclusive way helps avoid the danger of misinterpreted information. It ensures young people understand exactly what sex entails and what consent really means.

Good sex and relationships education plays an enormous part in supporting young people to achieve independence and self confidence. The earlier we start, the better.

Talk to me

However, it can be a bit of a challenge if it’s something you don’t feel confident about. That’s why I’m here. I run a sex and relationships forum on Netbuddy, where I am happy to talk about anything – staying safe, body changes, what the law says, what sort of resources are out there and more. I can answer questions around the more practical end of talking about sex and relationships, for example how I teach about things like condoms and contraception and how my experiences might be useful for you.

It’s time sex and relationships education was brought out into the open and discussed properly. Whatever is being done at school and college can only go so far without the support and contributions of parents and carers. It really does need to be a combined effort. So let’s share! It takes a lot to make me blush, so please feel free to ask me anything.

Gill is waiting for your questions on the Netbuddy forum now. Why not drop her a line? And don’t forget to check out Netbuddy’s Sex and Relationships info pack too.

Netbuddy is joining Scope!

Guest post from Lisa Quinlan-Rahman, Head of Digital at Scope.

We have some very exciting news. We are really pleased to announce that Netbuddy is merging with Scope.

Netbuddy is a very popular online community, and the practical tips and information on a range of disability topics, created and used by disabled people, parents of disabled children, carers and professionals, will be a really exciting addition to Scope’s community.

Of course, we need you to help us make it a success and want everyone to be part of this exciting new phase in our development.

Over the next few months, we will be asking you to help us shape our new online community. Please do get involved, as we hope to incorporate as many of your ideas as possible.

If have any questions, let me know below and watch this space for further announcements.