So I thought it would be a good idea to do a blog post with a little bit of information about us. Who we are, as people, as a company.
We started our involvement with autism through work. In fact, between us we have over 25 years experience of working directly with people on the autistic spectrum. We worked to support them, with a strong emphasis on empowerment, and advocating for their needs. We also worked higher up, at management level, ensuring that our teams held the highest standard of personal values and professional standards that we, ourselves, have.
Then, our autistic son came along. Actually, full disclosure, he is technically my husband’s son. My step-son. Only we think of him as our son – the same as our other children. No distinction there. So if I refer to him as being ‘our son’, that’s why – because he is.
Our son has autism, is largely non-verbal, has behavioural difficulties and severe learning disabilities. He attended a special school throughout his school years, and now lives in a supported living setting. He lives with his peers, supported 24 hours a day by carers and support workers. That way, he gets to be independent from us, to grow up, mature and develop like any other child would. But he remains safe, and cared for.
Anyway, having our own autistic son made us see things in a very different light. For years, we had been advocating for autistic people, and doing our very best to help support them, and help them to achieve their potential. And yet, even with a great value base and desire to help, it was different with flesh and blood. This really gave us a different perspective.
This combination of professional and personal experience has given us a unique foundation of knowledge and understanding that underpins our whole mentality at the company.
We initially formed the company from our kitchen table. We had become increasingly frustrated at the lack of high quality visual communication products that were available to be purchased ready-made. We had made visual aids for our son from laminated paper and they had worked well. Only they weren’t durable, and would frequently become bent, the laminate would start to peel away from the paper, the corners would split and they would become a soggy mess when our son chewed them. Essentially, they would fall apart. We figured there had to be a better way of making them, and we were really surprised to see that there were very few, if any, suitable products out there to buy.
That’s the fundamental basis underlying our company. We want to provide high quality products to stressed, tired, time-pressured parents to help them to help their children. Essentially, we want to help people that are going through very similar situations to what we went through ourselves.
Anyway, we started out making these visual aids on our kitchen table. We made each one by hand, to order. And it took forever. We took pride in making sure each and every order we sent out was top quality. But, as word got out, the orders started to come in thick and fast. And we just couldn’t keep up. We were thrilled to be helping so many people, and it was so satisfying when we got a message from one of our customers telling us how much our products had changed their child’s life. But, at the same time, we couldn’t sustain staying up sometimes until 3am to keep up with the orders.
So, we made some adjustments to our manufacturing methods. We invested in a heavier duty printer that could print the symbols directly, and could print straight onto plastic. And this helped, for a while. Only we quickly outgrew this also.
Now, all of our products are made in a factory in China. We have a great relationship with the factory and its owners, and ensure that it follows all employee standards and health and safety requirements. Actually, the factory we use also produces for giants like Disney, which we think is pretty cool!
It took quite a while to finalise the design for our products – to ensure that they survived the journey from China, and to make sure that each and every one was of the quality that our customers had come to expect. But, we got there.
Anyway, although we don’t make these products ourselves any more, our quality control manager in China ensures that they are off the highest quality. And, this way, we can concentrate on providing you with lots more services and information to help.
Since we’ve had more time (because we’re not spending every waking minute making orders), we’ve updated our website (this is our new site – it’s taken a long time, been a lot of work, but we’re really proud of it), and we’ve started a membership with plenty of resources for our members to access and learn from.
Plus, we’ve collected together and carefully curated detailed lists of products that we are proud to recommend – ones that either we’ve used (and loved) ourselves, or ones that have been personally recommended to us by our customers.
If you’ve got a fab product that you use all the time that doesn’t feature on our website, please do get in touch, and we’ll see if we can include it. Equally, if you follow our advice and have a less than stellar experience, please let us know and we’ll remove it from our list. This is a constantly evolving list which we create to stop you from having to spend hours searching for suitable products to help. But it works best when we all work together to make sure it’s as complete as possible, and as useful as possible.
Full disclosure here – we do earn a small commission from each purchase made through clicking on links on this site. Mainly, these product links go to Amazon, because it has a great reputation for customer service and prompt delivery. However, the commission we receive is small, and in no way influences which products we recommend and which ones we don’t. If a product is great, it makes the list – if it’s not, it doesn’t. Full stop. Commission just doesn’t feature in the thinking behind making the decision whether to include or not.