We were lucky enough to go to The Autism Show at the Excel centre in London. The show is travelling around the country however so don’t worry if you can’t make it to London.
After a long day in London the day before with BBG we were back up today to research for MO, I was rather tired to say the least!
There were 2 areas in the middle of the hall where various talks were going on and this was quite cool as you were given headphones to use while you sat and listened to the talk. There was also a large theatre to the back again for different seminars. The talk list was outside the theatre and was easy to find.
There were also individual consultant rooms to talk to people in private and get information and help and these sessions you could book on the day. At the London exhibition they were to the left of the entrance. For those that need quiet time away from the hustle and bustle there was also access to a quiet room. If we had taken MO, this quiet room would have been used an awful lot as it was quite crowded and sometimes a bit too much. The Autism Show understand the situations and have provided areas which was lovely to see. The eating areas were also relatively quiet and had very plain decor so again quite a good place to go to escape the busy ‘market area’. If needed there is also a very spacious sensory room. BBG loved this area and it really showcases what sort of equipment is available but also what really works in a sensory room. Just a good place to have a sensory session unfortunately it isn’t super quiet so if you need complete quiet to calm down just pop into the actual designated quiet room.
There were a variety of stalls and all of them genuinely had different things to demonstrate or information to tell you. There were a variety of stalls with sensory toys ranging from all singing all dancing fibre optics and projectors costing hundreds if not thousands right down to stress balls costing a couple of pounds. Each one I wanted to buy a lot of things from so have quite a few catalogues to go through and make a wish list.
All the stalls I came across were so friendly and really were able to point you in the direction of what would better suit your ASD needs which was really helpful. On one stall you can even sit down and try some calming toys out which I found really helpful for when we are thinking of equipment to fundraise for MO and also BBG, both need sensory equipment but for different reasons
One stall we did visit was Parallel London which was all about a sensory fun run which I am thinking of signing us up to do! Take a quick look at the stall as it is something really fun looking for all the family.
I am going to list 9 stalls I would highly recommend to go see or at least to go onto their websites to check them out. These have been listed mainly due to the fact I had never heard of their products or services and was really interested seeing different equipment being demonstrated. I would highly recommend seeing all the stalls as even the projector stall was fascinating as they now go all up walls and one stall had an amazing knife and folk set that may actually get MO to eat! So please do take the time to talk to everyone.
1- Abilia U.K. – they were demonstrating their new Memo Day Planner which doesn’t sound very new and you would be right, however this one is electrical. It is hard to describe but there are LED lights ticking down the time and past activities that you have written down. This would be perfect for MO as he is very precise so the seeing of the timer going down would help a lot with him knowing exactly what is coming up. They also have other equipment to show and this is basically just an old trick rejuvenated for the modern world.
2- Integrated Therapy Life – this stall is all about speech therapy and tailoring the therapy to your needs. They were also very friendly and happy to talk and help with questions. With this I would also highly recommend Beam ABA they do a therapy course in regards to behaviour and again come to your home and come up with a tailor made plan to stop negative behaviours and enhance the positive strengths that your ASD child has and again has a wealth of knowledge.
3- Filisia-interfaces– they are demonstrating their Cosmo product which was a finalist in the 2017 Best SEN Award. BBG had a little go as did Dad. With their product it is all done via an app on your tablet and this then hooks up to what I can only describe as 6 pods. There are various games and fun activities to do. The pods are extremely tough and come with a battery with a very long shelf life. The Cosmo is easily stored and transported as unlike some sensory equipment it really isn’t bulky.
It is a lot easier to explain by showing pictures but I wish we had these at home as I think it would do wonders here!
4- IPSEA– these people are so helpful when it comes to discussing education. IPSEA is a charity run by legally trained volunteers and offer training courses but are also a huge support team to help with the education sector when it comes to SEN children. They can help with your rights and also templates for writing letters and have a free telephone support service. If your just starting the process of being statmented then these are people who can really help. There are also 2 solicitors who both specialise in SEN needs and again are extremely helpful. SEN Legal limited Were also selling a book to really help parents through the mind field of special needs and legal entitlements. Look out for Match Solicitors who also specialise in SEN law and will be able to guide you in the right direction. All 3 are extremely good to talk to and all 3 will be able to give you help, I believe when it comes to legal entitlement you need options and to go with whoever you feel the strongest connection with. Hence why I have put all 3 legal advisors on this point.
5- Angel Sense– this is a stall with a brand new type of mobile phone which is designed specifically for Autistic children and their families. It has a real time tracking service, a late departure reminder and the bit that I personally love, a function where the parent can call the child and the phone automatically picks up so that you can call and listen in to make sure they are safe. This is a massive worry for me as a parent that MO will get lost or be targeted so knowing this phone exists will ease my mind slightly when he gets old enough to venture out by himself.
6- Hesley Group– this stall is mainly for teenagers however I loved the Hesley Group as they gave out a very good book called ‘Next steps a guide to transitioning planning’. Most ASD children find change hard so this book I am hoping will give ideas and help with change. It is mainly based on the transition from school to school but I can see it working for other big steps and just for this book it is on my list.
7- Playtoz– this stall is a normal sensory stall and although I said I wouldn’t mention these stalls I am because to the right of the stall there are a few special sensory toys and these are hand made by adults with learning and physical disabilities bringing a uniqueness to each item. We have got an orange stacking hoops toy that I will be reviewing next week once BBG has had a proper play with it but it is again something slightly different. We spoke to Sue the owner and she is also a play therapist so again someone with a wealth of knowledge for your play questions.
8- Musii– this is on my list as it is more for schools or playgroups however it is just fun to play with. It is also quite fascinating the way it works and helps the ASD children experience sound, light and texture.
Last but not least
9- Tough Furniture Ltd– as their name suggests it is just tough furniture. Unlike what I thought tough furniture would look like it would actually fit into any home and no one would generally think it was specialist equipment. Tough Furniture has been around for 25 years and I had never even heard of a domestic company who designed furniture like this. We had a very In Depth conversation and actually learnt that their beds can withstand 1 tonne! The tv cases are made of the same material riot shields are made of and basically every care has been taken for each piece of furniture. When looking at the prices their not actually too expensive, yes more then ikea but not far off Harvey’s prices.
So that’s my run down of the show. I came away less worried about MOs future and a lot more informed about what is out there to help us either by support or equipment. The 4 hours flew by and now I am going to spend the next few nights reading through all the magazines and information booklets I received.