For even the most mature of adults emotions can sometimes be a minefield that’s difficult to navigate, so it’s no surprise that children sometimes find it difficult to convey their emotions. For a child with an ASD, communicating how they feel is often an even bigger battle. For ASD sufferers, emotions can be overwhelming as they struggle to identify, understand, express and control their feelings.
One innovative strategy helping children with ASD to effectively manage and communicate their feelings is a range of toys known as Kimochis…Toys with Feelings Inside®. Tactile and interactive, Kimochis support children of all learning abilities, levels and styles to learn the skills essential to building relationships and connections, achieving academically, and appropriately – and joyfully – participating in the social world.
Leorah Kagan, Clinical Psychologist and Director of Wishing Wellness is an advocate of the toys, and says, “Some of the most important members of our team are the Kimochis®, which assist children with the exploration, expression and regulation of emotions. Children with ASD often experience frustration and anxiety; they can feel very alone in their world and misunderstood by their peers and family and it is therefore essential that they have some way of expressing themselves that does not rely on verbal communication. For children diagnosed with ASD, having a limited understanding of non-verbal communication and pragmatic language difficulties, the Kimochis® can be used as a teaching tool to improve their social skills and social interactions. The Kimochis® become their friends and provide them with a safe environment for exploration and learning. The Kimochis® are a fun and easy way in which children diagnosed with ASD can connect with their peers and family.”
The seven adorable, plush characters in the Kimochis range – Cloud, Bug, Huggtopus, Cat, Lovey Dove, Bella Rose and Clover – each represents a different personality type and temperament, making it easy for most children to identify with a particular character or characters. Within each of the Kimochis characters lives sets of feeling cushions, which represent the emotional challenges faced by each personality. Through effective use of Kimochis and the accompanying feeling cushions, children with an ASD can learn strategies and tools that will help them manage their emotions and function in our complex and exciting social world.
Child Clinical Psychologist Dr Sophie Havighurst, PhD also says, “Kimochis® provide an excellent way of helping children to learn about a range of different emotions. The Kimochis® characters themselves are comforting and loveable. They face challenges in their lives that children can identify with, such as over-exuberance, moodiness, cautiousness, bossiness and impatience. Kimochis® are also likely to be particularly helpful for children with difficulties in learning, limited language abilities and problems with communicating about emotions.”
Kimochis are used in schools, Playgroups, occupational and general therapy clinics, hospitals and homes across the country, and have garnered a host of local and international awards and supporters including Best Educational Toy 2010 and Most Innovative Toy 2011.