Category: Fledglings

We are thrilled to announce the launch of a wide range of assistive gaming & tech devices now available in our online Fledglings shop.

We understand the importance of ensuring everyone has the opportunity to access gaming and computer technology, regardless of their abilities. From joysticks, buttons and trackpads to add-on devices for iPads and XBOXs; our collection meets a wide range of needs.

We are particularly proud to be a supplier of Pretorian Technologies assistive technology (AT) and communication products. These offer the most comprehensive and extensive range and includes the unique SimplyWorks family of wireless AT and AAC products. For example, Game On 1 is an assistive gaming product that allows users of eye-gaze enabled AAC devices and computers to control computer games using only their eyes.

You can also find items such as our SEN keyboard in this collection, which is an ideal fun solution for introducing children to the world of computers. The bright keys are colour coded to allow children to identify groups on the keyboard to encourage learning and the keyboard is also damage and spill resistant.

Check out the full gaming and tech collection.

We know that schools can provide routine and structure for many children with additional needs. When this routine stops, for example in the school holidays, some children can find the change hard to manage.

To help, we’ve put together 10 top tips to help take some of the stress out of the holidays ahead:

  1. Mark up key dates for your family this summer on a calendar to help your child understand what’s coming up. Include things like days out, days you are working, days your child will be at childcare or a playscheme, any holidays away – and the day school starts again. Crossing the days off will show your child that school is getting closer.
  2. Use photographs and other visuals to show your child daily routines. For example the Tom Tag range in our Fledglings shop uses symbols to show a series of separate tasks or the steps involved in a task that are part of a routine for a whole range of different situations.
  3. Social stories can be a great way to help your child what’s happening this summer holiday.
  4. Find some free activities. Look out for places where kids can eat for free and family days out as well as museums, libraries, parks, BBC online games, craft activities at home. Maybe you have a local children’s centre or toy library. Look out for autism-friendly attractions by checking accessibility guidelines.
  5. Don’t over-plan activities – you and your child will be exhausted! It’s important to allow for down-time.
  6. Get out early and take a packed lunch and snacks!
  7. When you are out and about don’t forget to bring a bag of distractions and spare clothes.
  8. Don’t forget to take emergency contact information with you.
  9. Tolerate mess!
  10. Shop for back-to-school items early.

Contact resources to help

Take a look at our holidays and leisure guide.

Visit our Fledglings shop for products to help with routines and getting out and about this holiday.

Read answers to some of your questions about summer activities for your disabled child.

If you live in the Midlands or London and have an autistic child check out the free parent workshops we have coming up including support strategies for the summer holidays.

Take action on the lack of holiday childcare for families with disabled children

Contact and the Disabled Children’s Partnership recently carried out research which revealed that nine out of 10 families have been unable to find a suitable holiday club or activity for their disabled child this summer.

As a result, we’re asking supporters to take action on the lack of holiday childcare for disabled children by writing to their councillors calling for more holiday provision for disabled children in their local area. 

Yesterday, Sunday 11th June 2023, our not-for-profit Fledglings shopped turned 25!

Fledglings’ story

Fledglings was born in 1998 out of founder Ruth Lingard’s passion and drive to help parents and carers of children with special needs find simple solutions to everyday challenges they face. As a special needs teacher and social worker, Ruth had a wealth of experience helping families and children, and Fledglings gave her an opportunity to reach more people in need.

Fledglings, if you were my baby I would now be a proud parent. Congratulations! I will be toasting your successes today. Here’s to the next 25 years.”

Fledglings founder Ruth Lingard

In February 2019, Fledglings joined Contact. Like Fledglings, we were founded by families of disabled children, who recognised that even if their child’s conditions were different, they shared a common experience – of being a family with a disabled child. They understood how important it is to support each other.

Every purchase supports our vital work

Today, our shop stocks over 1,000 products, and over the years we’ve been able to support around 30,000 families.

And every purchase made in our Fledglings shop helps us support help even more UK families with our information, advice and support.

Read more about the Fledglings story so far.

And if you have not visited for a while, take a look at our New In collection. If you don’t see what you need, get in contact with us and just ask. Think of us as a personal shopper for specialist products!

We’re looking forward to supporting families for another 25 years!

Our online Fledglings shop is now available in a number of different languages for shoppers whose first language is not English.

Simply click a flag in the top right corner of the Fledglings home page to pick your preferred language and view product and collection information in the language of your choice.

You can choose from:

We hope that this new development on our Fledglings website makes it easier for families to find the sensory toys, adaptive clothing and aids they need for the children and adults with additional needs that they care for.

We’ve published a new report about our work with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital to create a more sensory friendly environment for children and young people when they visit.

The report, Sensory Friendly Environments North West, highlights our work with staff at the hospital and neurodiverse children and young people and their families to investigate what changes could be made to improve the experiences of children with sensory processing differences – estimated to be around 60% of children visiting the hospital. 

It was the best experience we have had in three years of going to Alder Hey

Parent visiting the hospital with their son

As well as listening to the experiences of children visiting the hospital and increasing staff’s understanding of sensory differences, Alder Hey also put in place a range of changes and equipment to help, including specially designed sensory toy boxes to calm and distract children in clinical areas, developed with the expert support of Contact’s team who run our Fledglings shop.

Often it was small changes that made the biggest difference. For example, offering a quiet space to wait reduced some children’s anxiety and meant they were better able to engage in their hospital appointments. Or fixing curtains in an inpatient room which meant a child who was sensitive to light and had not slept for days could sleep better and engage positively in activities later that day.

We are now more aware of sensory needs and recognising when it is sensory and not just behaviour

Alder Hey staff member

We’d like to see more settings build on the work done at Alder Hey to work collaboratively with parent carers and children and young people to create sensory-friendly environments.

Read the full independent evaluation of Sensory Friendly Environments North West, by Edge Hill University which reviews the impact of the project.

Watch this short animation developed as part of the project to help people understand how hospital noises, lights and smells can distress or over stimulate some children with sensory processing differences.

Contact worked with Sefton and Livpac parent carer forums, young people from Alder Hey Youth Forum and Sefton Camhelions and the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) whose ‘experts by experience’ brought the training to life.

We’ve been working with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool to help them create a more sensory friendly environment for children, young people and their families when they visit.

A high proportion of children visiting Alder Hey are likely to have sensory processing differences which are often associated with autism. Many can find coming to hospital challenging and need additional support to help reduce their anxiety and engage in their treatments.

As part of the project, Contact supplied the hospital with 60 wipe-down boxes filled with sensory toys, games and other products from our Fledglings shop. Children visiting or staying at the hospital can use the box, which can be passed onto another child when they leave. We have also been asked to provide Alder Hey with sunglasses to help children with the glare of hospital lights and ear defenders.  

The project, led and developed by Alder Hey, neurodiverse children and young people and local parent carer forums aims to:

Ever wondered what it feels like to visit a hospital if you have sensory processing differences?

Young people at Alder Hey Hospital worked with National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) to produce this fantastic short animation to help people understand how hospital noises, lights and smells can distress or over stimulate some children with sensory processing differences. Watch it below:

Sensory toys and accessories from our Fledglings shop

Each sensory box we supplied to Alder Hey included a Colour Changing Egg; Feelings Fan; Fidget Kit; Glitter Tubes; Pop-It Bubble Fidget Toy; Spikey Massage Roller and a Tangle Metallic.

Visit our Fledglings shop for more sensory toys and ideas.

Our Fledglings shop is offering you 20% off selected sensory toys, equipment and accessories in its summer clearance sale.

But hurry – because once they’re gone, they’re gone for good.

Make sure you don’t miss out on our small and large bargains like these mess-free modelling beads – especially helpful if your child loves making models but dislikes messy hands.

Or, if you’re looking for something a bit bigger, how about our huge tent with glow in the dark stars – an incredible sensory space that can be used indoors or in the garden all summer long.

Looking for toys, games and activities for the summer holidays?

You’ll find lots of inspiration in our Fledglings summer holiday collection to keep children fully occupied both indoors and out.

Fledglings is part of the Contact family. Every purchase you make with Fledglings helps Contact continue supporting families of disabled children with vital help and advice.

Children at a primary school in Boreham in Essex are delighted with the sensory toys and accessories provided by our Fledglings shop which has helped transform a dull room into a calming and relaxing sensory space for children with additional needs to explore.

Before and after!

“I like it when the bubble tubes are on”

Children at the school have called their new facility the ‘Dragon’s nest’ in honour of the school mascot Susan the Dragon. The school told us the children particularly love the liquid floor tiles, bubble tubes and having fun wearing the bodysocks.

The room the school has created with our Fledglings team helps children feel calm and focused – which helps them be better prepared for learning and interacting with their peers.  And parents have told the school that their child’s access to the new sensory room and equipment has improved family life at home too.

The resources really have made such an impact on our children and we appreciate all of the support that Fledglings has given us. It really has enriched their experience, giving a safe and calm space where the children can relax and regulate their emotions. The parents have also been so positive, sharing how their home life has improved.

Jo Huntley, SENCO and inclusion manager at Boreham Primary School

Work at a school and looking for sensory equipment?

Our Fledglings shop works with hundreds of schools across the UK, providing sensory equipment, learning resources, adaptive eating and drinking equipment and more.

If you work for a school, then do get in touch and we’d be more than happy to advise on the best products to meet your needs and budget. Email us at fledglings@contact.org.uk or give us a call on 0203 319 9772. Alternatively, you can place your order directly through our shop.

Visit our Fledglings shop for more sensory toys and ideas.

Our Fledglings Black Friday sale event is here!

For a limited time only, we’re offering 15% off our spectacular range of sensory toys, clothes and equipment for children with additional needs.

Plus, there’s an extra 20% off selected sale lines.

Why not have a look at our Xmas shop, full of ideas to inspire children’s curiosity?

Don’t miss out, as the offer is available for a limited time only!

Discounts will be automatically applied at checkout, and T&C’s apply.

Parents lifting child to top of Christmas tree

It’s never too early to start your Christmas shopping, and we’ve made choosing wonderful gifts easy with our 10 new Christmas collections  – handpicked just for you!

From stocking fillers and sensory toys to gifts for teens and cosy PJs, there’s something for everyone, even that person on your list who’s always hard to buy for!

Check out our fabulous festive collections:

Happy Christmas shopping!