Focus on the Ability – Not Disability in Children with Special Needs – 31 Day Challenge / Day 29

Kids Naomi Mc Laughlan

This morning I reviewed my seven year old daughter’s progress in terms of her academic abilities and general life skills. I initially created a goal plan for her at the beginning of this year and I was so surprised how far she has come. Some goals may sound little, but they were actually huge for her, (due to her autism and rare chromosome disorder along with other health issues), such as being able to adapt to change better, to accept new routines or to take part in a group activity on a regular basis.

While I was able to tick of 7 of 18 items on the list, including the ability to read short sentences (with just little help), number recognition to 100 and the ability to use those for mental and written calculations, tying her own shoe laces or riding a bike without stabilizers, I realised how far she has come in just 12 months!

Kids 2 Naomi Mc Laughlan

Although the list has a great number of items I was not able to tick of, I must say that it doesn’t matter, as any progress is a big step in the right direction. Plus, the number of items on my list was quite ambitious, I guess 😉

If I would have listed to some of the specialists, we would have not come this far, one for instance, has recommended that occupational therapy is ‘a waste of time for children on the Autistic Spectrum’. Excuse me?! I don’t think so!!!

Instead I listened to my own intuition and took every opportunity to help my little one develop in her own time. Home-schooling has played a huge part in this, as it allowed me to create a lesson plan that is tailored to her needs.

I have been home-schooling her for two years now and in addition she has had private sessions with speech and language and other health care specialists to help her in each area of her impairments. We use all available resources to increase her learning abilities, for example picture cards, Makaton sign language, computer software and online courses, as well as ‘Now and Then’ boards along with other helpful aids.

Love Naomi Mc Laughlan.png

But the most important factors, in my eyes, are:

Love, Patience & Optimism

I must say, although it is wonderful to be underestimating a child’s abilities due to his or her disability, it can unfortunately also hinder the child to grow and expand his or her wings.

Wings Naomi Mc Laughlan

So I urge you to celebrate your (special needs) child’s uniqueness and celebrate his or her imagination, talents and skills  and stop comparing him or her with other children, as I believe that we all have different gifts we have been born with. And nobody can predict the future anyway!

Let me know what you think.

All the Best & Speak to you tomorrow,

Naomi xxx


Autism, The Environment & Communication – 31 Day Challenge / Day 18

Autism Naomi Mc Laughlan

Today I would love to share with you the following video presentation on the importance of providing an enabling environment to support children and young adults with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.

Video Transcript

We communicate through spoken language, body language, signs and symbols and also in writing.

Being able to communicate thoughts, feelings and individual needs is vital for a child and young people’s development.

If they feel misunderstood it can lead to anger and frustration.  Some children express their feelings in temper tantrums; some scream, kick, punch or trough themselves on the floor.

Others withdraw from their environment and isolate themselves, which makes it even harder for them to find friendship with peers.

In order for a child to feel welcome, appreciated and most importantly understood the environment has to be enabling the child to communicate.

The communication Trust Report – Every Child Understood 2007-2009 gives everyone working with children and young people an understanding on the importance of providing an enabling environment and also highlights that speech, language and communication are crucial to the achievement of Every Child Matters (ECM).

KIDS NDD (n.d.) state that “Communication is a vital and continuing process for us all. It is the means by which all humans make contact, share experiences, understand their world and find their place within it. Communication is the way by which we obtain information and use that information to make decisions and choices. We all use communication to express ourselves and our interests, our dislikes or desires and what we need”

You can help your child or young adult by teaching him or her the use of the British Sign Language (BSL) or the sign language applicable within you country, Makaton, which is a simplified sign language that is based on pictures, provide books and magazines in Easy Read, read social stories, use the Picture Exchange Communication System (PEGS), label tools and rooms with Widget Symbols, create and use ‘Now and Then’ boards and use Electronic Communication Aids.  Or a combination of the methods mentioned above.


KIDS NDD (n.d.) Communicating with disabled children. Online at: [accessed 18 December 2015]

Let me know what you think.

All the Best & Speak to you tomorrow,

Naomi xxx

30+ International Websites for Parents of Children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (updated)

When my youngest daughter was diagnosed at age 3, I found it difficult to find resources that I could use to understand the diagnosis better and to find guidance on how to approach the new life change overall. Although I was initially given some booklets about Autism, I still had many question unanswered. I was looking to find websites and articles about:

  • Diagnosis Information
  • Day-to-Day Life
  • Dietary Advice
  • Parents Chats & Communities
  • National and International Societies
  • Education & Work
  • Strategies
  • Therapies
  • Games & Play work
  • How to access Grants
  • Charities & NGOs
  • Family Support Hotlines
  • Links to further help

Autism Awareness NaomiMcLaughlan

Then after hours and hours of research I felt that it was a pity that there wasn’t a list or directory at the time that I could access instead. As each child is so unique in its own right and methods and strategies which are available today vary so much, I find that having a wide range of options to be the key of success in terms of finding support for your child and family.

Having a child affected by ASD or Asperger’s Syndrome, can be challenging for your child’s social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour, but also everyone involved, therefore I hope that the following list of websites allow you to find resources that can be helpful for you and reduce the strain of searching around the internet yourself.

Please note: The list of supportive websites is categorized alphabetically by country. I do not endorse or recommend any website, product or treatment in particular. This list is intended for informational purposes only. Please consult with experienced professionals to determine the most effective treatment for your own child as each child and situation are unique.


Amaze online at:

Autism Awareness online at:

Australian Government Department of Social Services online at:

Autism Spectrum Australia online at:


Autism Canada Foundation online at:

Autisms Ontario online at:

Autism Society Canada (ASC) online at:

Autism Speaks Canada online at:

Canadian National Autism Foundation online at:

Society for Treatment of Autism online at:


Autism Action Partnership online at: online at:

Autism Society online at:

Autism Speaks online at:

Disability Grants Ltd online at:

Essex Sussex County Council online at:

NHS online at:

Pasda online at:

Peach online at:

The National Autistic Society online at:


Autism New Jersey online at:

Autism Support Network online at:

Autism Research Institute online at:

Disability Scoop online at:

National Institute of Mental Health online at:

The Arc of the United States online at:


Autism SA online at:

Autism South Africa online at:

Autism Western Cape online at:

The Association for Autism online at:


Exploring Hobbies with your Child online at:

10 Hobbies and Activities to Enjoy with Your Autistic Child online at

Travel Tips for Children with Autism online at


Travelling with Your Child with Asperger’s online at


Special Needs Seniors – Planning for the Future online

Elderly with Autism online at

Adaptive Equipment Buying Guide online at

Home Organization for Seniors online at

Legal Guide online at


All the Best,

Naomi x

P.S.: The update to the list (Hobbies & Travel and Seniors) came to happen thanks to Susan W. from Getting To Wellness, as she thanked me for the extensive list, but was kind enough to suggest that children stay children even when they get older, hence I have added the list for seniors.

I hope the list is helpful for you and I would appreciate if you share it! Thank you 😉

P.P.S: Did you know that my daughter inspired me to write ‘Judy no need to be scared!’, it is available via Amazon and is based on Judy who is scared of many things; noise, water and insects are some of them. Her mother helps her, to get over her fear by pointing out the nice side of the situations. Children on the Autistic Spectrum with anxieties and phobias benefit greatly from this engaging story! Includes 2 Pages of Info & Activities for children with fears and phobias.

Judy amazon pic


Our 1.5 year old Micro Pig Henry & How Beneficial it is to have a pet for Autistic Children

Children with Autism NaomiMcLaughlanHave you ever promised your kids a pet? Well, I have…Two years ago we got a gold hamster, but it died 4 weeks after we brought him home from the pet shop, then we had a white fluffy bunny, but she only lived for a year. My kids and I were devastated, burring two pets was so sad for them.

Then we went to the family fun fair and won a goldfish, but the downside was that you cannot cuddle him – he is still swimming in his glass bowl…

We then considered a dog, a cat and other caged pets, eventually decided that although they might hopefully live longer they would require a lot of work.

Then just before Christmas 2012, my then 11 year old daughter saw a micro-pig on TV for the first time and decided that a tea-cup pig should become a new member of the family.

So I investigated into every aspect I believed was important to know about and we eventually brought ‘Henry’ home from a local breeder last year in May.

Henry 2013 NaomiMcLaughlan

Did you know?


  • Micro Pigs live between 15 to 20 years.
  • Male weigh between 20 kg / 45 pounds and 91 kg / 200 pounds.
  • Females weigh between 20 kg / 45 pounds and 91 kg /200 pounds.
  • In the UK you must obtain a CPH or Council Parish Holding number before buying or keeping a micro pig.
  • Micro pigs need fresh water around the clock.
  • They eat special Pig Nuts, plus fruits and vegetables as treats.
  • Micro pigs need outside access.

The first year Henry lived in our converted garden shed, but a couple of months ago we moved him into our former garage / now pigsty and we are planning to move onto a farm in the near future, so that Henry can have a ‘wife’ and little piglets too 😉

The Huffington Post Online (2013)* reported ”Science shows that interacting with animals may have big health benefits. Pets can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, increase the amount of exercise people get and decrease stress. Now, a new study finds that animals also may significantly increase positive social behaviors in children who have an autism spectrum disorder.”

Benefits for autistic children NaomiMcLaughlan

Since having Henry, our flower beds in our backyard are history and our nice green field in a muddy-puddle play area, but we have gotten to love this handsome guy pretty much now. He used to be as tiny as a cup, but has since grown to a size of a large dog, many friends who haven’t been around for a while cannot believe that he has grown soooo fast.

Henry 2014 NaomiMcLaughlan

My kids are happy and my little one is interacting nicely, despite being shy with peers and others, Henry has led her to come out of her shell a little more; she enjoys feeding him and rubbing his belly – and so does he!

All the Best,


P.S.: Please, Like & Share

*Source: If you are interested in reading the whole article on pets and kids by the Huffington Post Online, click here.

Why Occupational Therapy is Brilliant to Help a Child with Autism, Asperger Syndrome or Childhood Autism Part 2

Welcome back, as I promised, this is the second part of my OT special, if you haven’t already please read part 1, as it will allow you to use the following suggestions in a much better way.

By changing and adapting your child environment his or her aggression or other types of negative behaviours will eventually decrease, as he or she will find gratification in the new freedom of movement and independence.

My Top 4 Key Do’s in  Occupational Therapy Success

1. Teach a different way to complete an activity

2. Think of changes that will make an activity easier

3. Use devices that make activities easier

4. Celebrate accomplishments, before introducing a transition to new or more complicated activities

Occupational Therapy by

Often children with ASD or Asperger’s  either dislike touch or other types of stimuli or are overly excited about it, therefore try to practise the following:

  • Gross motor; walking, climbing stairs or climbing frames, riding a balance bike or bike, horseback riding, trampolining, dance
  • Fine motor skills; colouring sheets like Mandala, manipulation of small objects like marbles, practise handwriting, cutting with scissors
  • Posture and Balance; Yoga (sitting, posture etc.) , swimming, bouncy/gymnastics ball, sitting or lying in a hammock
  • Awareness of his or her body and its relation to others ; practise toilet training, dressing, brushing teeth, and other grooming skills
  • Visual skills for reading and writing; books with various letter fonts and sizes
  • Focus on tasks; games like memory, rope skipping, timed activities
  • Perceptual skills; telling the differences between colours, shapes, and sizes, facial impression games for recognising emotions and feelings

The following list is not as extensive and you might find that you have already adapted many areas, but my hope is that you find a few new things to consider. I am aware that not all children with ASD or Asperger’s have a physical disability.

But Occupational Therapy looks at the whole picture, you may find that creating more order around the whole household or making a tiny change in your routine can help you and your child immensely, it certainly happened to me and my family.

One word of warning though, do not try to incorporate to much at a time; interactions between your child and you and a lot of practice will increase your child’s attention span and stamina, but please do not forget the need for personal space and brakes, as well as recovery time.

Ideas to increase independence using the 4 OT Key Areas

  1. Physical needs

-Personal Care

  • specially adapted comb
  • electric toothbrushes, for stimulation and easier handling purposes
  • walking stick, walking frame or a wheelchair
  • a non-slip mat for the bath or shower cabine
  • establish medication management, by involving your child or young adult

– Household Chores

  • voice-controlled electric devises, for example lights
  • electric can openers
  • knives with large handles

– Leisure Time

  • chunky pens, for children with fine motor skill difficulties
  • a special keyboard or mouse
  • voice-controlled software on a computer
  • device to turn the pages of a book
  1. Psychological needs
  • practise routine building, for example by using a time table with words and pictures
  • practise coping skills, for example with role play activities or games
  • develop and schedule maintenance of friendships at nursery, school or work
  1. Social needs
  • join and participate in community activities, over time your child might be able to join alone or with the help of a carer
  • practise social skills, for example by taking part in frequent events and activities
  • encourage leisure pursuits, clubs either mainstream or special groups and classes
  1. Environmental needs

– Inside your home

  • fitting a stair lift
  • fitting grab rails, for example beside the bed
  • fitting a raised toilet seat
  • bath lift or shower seat

– Outside your home

  • putting in ramps, for easy wheelchair access
  • fitting grab rails, for example by the stairs
  • clearing up clutter
  • reorganising cupboards
  • providing visual cues, for example colour code or picture cards
  • practise money management

Please Like & Share

All the Best,


Why Occupational Therapy is Brilliant to Help a Child with Autism, Asperger Syndrome or Childhood Autism Part 1

I and my family have just returned from Germany, were we combined our summer vacation with occupational therapy for my youngest daughter, who is autistic with many other health issues.

Even though, we have regular one-on-one OT sessions at home, I have found that intensive therapy over a number of days or weeks are extremely beneficial for us all. Occupational Therapy by Naomi Mc Laughlan I am aware that not all health care providers or health insurances offer free OT sessions in their care plan, the NHS in the UK for example does not offer regular sessions, but an assessment and recommendation, for children with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Asperger syndrome or childhood autism who are affected in their social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.

I am writing this two part series, to enable you, the parent or carer, to use some techniques at home to help your child to become more independent in his or her daily activities, to increase the ability to complete simple tasks or to reach long term goals.

What is Occupational Therapy?

The College of Occupational Therapists states (n.d.) “Occupational therapy is a science degree-based, health and social care profession, regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council. Occupational therapy takes a whole-person approach to both mental and physical health and wellbeing, enabling individuals to achieve their full potential.

Occupational therapy provides practical support to enable people to facilitate recovery and overcome any barriers that prevent them from doing the activities (occupations) that matter to them. This helps to increase people’s independence and satisfaction in all aspects of life.

“Occupation” refers to practical and purposeful activities that allow people to live independently and have a sense of identity. This could be essential day-to-day tasks such as self-care, work or leisure.”

Did you know?

Occupational therapy often involves physical therapy, as well as therapeutic baths, massage, exercise, and music.

In which areas can Occupational Therapy (OT) help?

  • Personal Care
  • Hand strength
  • Concentration
  • Behaviour
  • Social skills
  • Relationships
  • School
  • Community activities
  • Parenting (calming extreme situations etc.)
  • Work (teenagers and young adults)
  • Domestic activities (teenagers and young adults)

4 OT Key Areas of Needs

When thinking of your child you might want to evaluate the following 4 areas of your child, in order to plan any form of intervention to get your desired positive outcome.

1. Physical needs

2. Psychological needs

3. Social needs

4. Environmental needs

3 Occupational Therapy Aspects

1. Care management; consider how your child could approach a task differently.

2. Equipment for daily living; consider what type of equipment or assistive technology could make a task easier.

3. Environmental adaptation; consider which areas of your child’s living or working environment could be adapted.

In part two of this series I will give you actual ideas how and what to incorporate for your child to progress, which will be published on the 16th August 2014.

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All the Best,