Tots TV Theme Tune
I’m a Tot,
Je suis une Tot
Tilly Tom and Tiny
We take our magic bag with us
Sac magique, sac magique
Remember that show, and Tilly, Tom and Tiny? Well we have a magic bag too! Allow me to explain.
Jack has had a backpack for about 18 months now. Usually we would only take it out on a Tuesday when we have back to back clubs, and needed somewhere to put spare clothes. The rest of the week, it sat in the hall at home, redundant and awaiting it’s next trip out. That was until a few months ago.
Over the Christmas period, we had a sensory assessment conducted via a private occupational therapist at the Toby Henderson Trust. The appointment consisted of a questionnaire completed by me and school, a face to face interview with me, and an assessment of Jack in school. At the time, including travel expenses, this cost us £462. We paid for this service because our local CYPS (Children and Young People’s Service) said they felt a sensory profile was unnecessary (when we were under their care), but they also said they don’t do sensory assessments initially, so that was pretty irritating. But, the money was there and so we paid it.
While the assessment didn’t flag much of anything for Jack, one of the things that did come up was that he was bouncy, but also that he benefited from deep pressure. The lovely Andy Dalziell taught us how to deliver deep pressure very early on in our contact with him, and we have used this many times to great success, including once on the floor in ASDA! The OT recommended a backpack for Jack, to give him a constant feel of deep pressure on his shoulders, which would make him feel more grounded on trips out. It had to be a decent weight, but not massively heavy.
I set to work filling his backpack the same night, thinking about things that would benefit him, his health and his autism when we go out in public. I had a trail through Amazon, and I’ve also picked up some little bits and bobs along the way. And, luckily for you, I’m willing to share this coveted information here.
I chose this lovely backpack from Smiggle for a few reasons: it’s cute; it has lots of compartments; it’s big enough for an iPad with nuke-proof case; it’s built to last. Seriously it’s so robust! Two side compartments for drinks, main bag with compartment at the back (full depth), separate front compartment, and a front pocket.
From Amazon, this credit card sized alert card is available for a boy or a girl and can be used to help them get help in an emergency. It has advice about where they may struggle, as well as a strip on the back for my details in case he is lost. We have never had to use it but he knows it is there, I know it is there, it has a pocket all to itself, and it might just save him one day.
These Senner KidsPro ear plugs are a wonderful alternative to traditional ear defenders – they are much more discreet than the ones that look like headphones, which sits well with his dad and school (we don’t want him standing out now, do we? *rolls eyes with maximum sarcasm*), but they also fit nicely into this little container and attach to the zip of his bag so they are nice and accessible. We paid around £22 a set, but they are worth every penny.
Jack also often has his sunglasses in there too, which we carry year round in case of bright lights or bright sun, because he isn’t a fan. It’s not a big trigger for him, but they are handy to keep close.
This is just a selection of our favourite bits, but the bag often contains a Tangle Twister, this weird fidget thing from Smiggle, Lego figures, small plushies… whatever he wants on the day. Usually small items, he can play with them somewhere quiet if he is bored or stressed. Other items you could include may be fidget spinners, stretchy toys, chewy items (for example, a Chewigem pendant) if your kid is an oral sensory seeker… whatever makes them tick. Our only stipulation for Jack’s items is that they are small, with minimal small parts that can fall off or break, as that can trigger a meltdown.
Jack has virally-induced and allergy-induced asthma. There have been a few near-misses with him, and far too many hospitalisations, and I think some of this is due to his senses being skewed as a result of his autism. He doesn’t feel his breathing getting worse and worse, and by the time he does make us aware how much he is struggling, I’ve likely already noticed and it’s then creeping toward crisis point. So inhalers and Calpol are an essential part of our bag. There’s usually a bottle of Piriton in there too. I must find that!
This is the best hypoallergenic sun cream I have ever found for Jack, and it’s so easy to apply, even when he is sprinting in the opposite direction (he hates having cream rubbed on his body). Another Amazon buy. Obviously I’m a Prime member.
But the most important item, is Jack’s iPad Pro in its heavy duty case. We don’t have a picture because he’s never far from his iPad. He’s actually on the toilet watching it at the moment. Yes, it goes with him when he poops. And bathes. It’s his comfort. When he needs to avoid the world, he goes into the world of FGTeeV and hides there for a while! We never go far without it, although we do regulate how often he uses it.
Like with all children, we also carry snacks, juice, and wipes.
This bag is always packed with it’s own items (except the iPad), ready to go at anytime, so no matter what, he has everything he needs for a successful trip out. I can honestly say it makes our life a hell of a lot easier! If you need a hand putting one together, give me a shout and I’ll be happy to help!
Note: Some the links above are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I receive compensation for qualifying purchases. The other links are just there because I added them in the hope that they help someone, somewhere.