Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Review + Giveaway: Guest Post: A Toy that Hugs is the Best Medicine

WHAT: Toys Are Tools First Ever Guest Post with Review
DOES:  Opportunity for us to get to know a very helpful book.
INVEST: $9-12 (depending on retailer); Chair: $85
AGES: For the Grown-ups

GIVEAWAY PRIZE: Get Your Own HowdaHug chair. 

From Jenn:
Seven years ago, I checked myself into the E.R. because I thought I was having a heartattack. It made no sense because my blood pressure and cholesterol levels were always good. But my chest was hurting and I could barely breathe.

But it wasn't a heart attack. Acutally, it was a panic attack. I think the stress of having Number 1 and Number 2 with all of the "not normal" and yet "advanced" things they were doing were making me crazy. I don't do well with mixed messages.  I started to wonder how bad were my kids' problems and was I good enough to deal with them? I decided to answer this question by writing a blog and through that I met others like me who wanted open dialogue on this issue.  With each blog post, we attempted to wash off all shame and fear and opened up our private lives in hopes that we'd be helped by being helpful.

One person I met on this journey turned out to be extremely helpful, building a support blog serving thousands of parents of children with ADHD.  She has since moved on to let her branches grow higher and wider.  The publication of her book is just one of many achievements she has made. Expect more from Penny Williams in the future, a woman I am so proud to call my friend.

A Toy that Hugs is the Best Medicine

My son, Ricochet, has ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), Dysgraphia, and a high IQ. I’ve been searching for the right support tools and toys for him since his diagnosis in 2008. It’s difficult to find toys and tools that hold his interest and support his challenges. Science, geometric, and building toys are his top interests. But, even when he’s highly interested, it’s sometimes hard to sustain attention and stick with something for an adequate period of time. Part of that is his ADHD, but part of it is also his need for consistent sensory stimulation, due to sensory processing disorder. 

Toys that challenge Ricochet’s brain and continually stimulate his senses are ideal. Hard to come by, but ideal. Video games are the obvious match, and Ricochet loves them and is very skilled at them. However, too much screen time is not best, so we keep searching for alternatives.

photo: HowdaDesignz

One day a few years ago, I discovered the HowdaHUG chair. The creator’s description sounded like a miracle for my squirmy, excitable kid:
 Designed for "fidgety kids" who present a need for deep sensory input to find focus, calm and containment. {Yep, my kid is fidgety and his occupational therapist told me he needs deep sensory input.} 
 HUGS provide smooth rocking. {Maybe this will end the need to lean back in chairs.} 
 HUGS are lightweight and portable, great for home, school, or wherever kids need a supportive embrace! {Awesome! He can bring it to and from school every day!}
I was skeptical that this little chair could live up to its extraordinary description, and I was disappointed by the price. I got one anyway though, desperate to help my Ricochet with his challenges.

He was squirmiest when reading, so that is the first time we tried it. I held it open so he could get in. We pulled the straps tighter so the slats would hug his body. Ricochet loved that tight squeeze and asked me to keep tightening it until he looked like a little burrito. He opened his book (a Magic Treehouse book), leaned back, and began reading. I walked away to give him some quiet.

Ten minutes went by and I hadn’t heard a peep. That was odd since he badgered me constantly during his reading time, “Am I done yet? How much longer? When can I be done? I don’t want to read anymore.” I peeked around the corner to find him rocking lightly and engrossed in his book. He wasn’t kicking his feet up in the air, twirling his hair, or biting his fingers. It seemed he wasn’t losing his place on the page as often either. This chair is a miracle, I thought. 

The author, Penny Williams

I again left him alone to finish his reading. Back then, in second grade, they were required to read twenty minutes a day. He had an accommodation to only read fifteen, since it was such a struggle to sustain his attention reading for any longer.

After forty-five minutes, I went in and approached him. “You have been reading for forty-five minutes, Buddy!”

“I have?” he asked. He couldn’t believe it either.

I probed further. “Is the HowdaHUG helping you read?”

“Yeah! I love this chair!” he answered. “It’s really comfortable and helps me focus on my book.”

I heard angels sing. This. Was. Huge.

photo: HowdaDesignz
The very next day, he rolled up his HowdaHUG, put it in his backpack, and took it to school. His teacher saw a difference in his attention, too. I had finally found a tool that actually helped my child with his ADHD and other challenges! Woot!

I tried so many toys and tools that promised increased focus before that, and many since, but we never saw measurable improvement, except with the HowdaHUG. I know this may sound like a rave review simply to sell a lot of chairs, but it’s not. My overwhelming positivity about the HowdaHUG is genuine. I promise. This is a must-have tool for kids with inattention and sensory challenges. This chair is worth its weight in gold to our family!

The fine ladies at HowdaDesignz are giving away a HowdaHUG to one lucky Toys Are Tools reader. Complete the steps in the Rafflecopter below to be entered for a chance to win one of these fantastic little chairs for your child. 

photo: HowdaDesignz

Award-Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom.

A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom's view of ADHD}, and a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny and get updates about Ricochet at http://BoyWithoutInstructions.com.

boy without instructions:
Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting
a Child with ADHD

And NOW.......

USE Rafflecopter to Enter This Amazing Contest to Win Your Own Howda Hug Chair compliments of  HowdaDesignz

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TO BUY ONLINE through Jenn's Amazon Link: (yeah, support Toys Are Tools!)

Disclosure:  Toys are Tools was not compensated by the manufacturers of anything mentioned here for the publication of this review.  The reviewed items were provided to Toys are Tools to facilitate a review.  Reviews are never promised. This story should not be used in place of clinical treatment.




  1. It is really great Heather, especially if your child is a sensory seeker. ;-)

  2. I'm hoping to win for my daughter with autism, but I am a reading specialist and I can think of LOTS of students who would beneift from this as well! Wish I could win 3! ;)

  3. I have an 11 year old with adhd, I think this would be great for her!

  4. Wish I had one of these years ago for my adhd kid!

  5. When it gets tough I go to my husband.

  6. No, they tend to stay in one place when they read.

  7. Mine can't read yet, but he totally concentrated better when running around/fidgeting/playing with something in his hands . This chair could be such a godsend for his next year when he starts Kindergarten !