Star Wars: supporting Angelman Syndrome


This week at Excitim HQ, we were moved by the Star Wars video that’s helping to raise awareness of Angelman Syndrome. It’s a step in the right direction as Angelman Syndrome is not as well known as other medical conditions that many come into contact with.

I’ll admit, I didn’t know of it myself until in 2014, I was asked to exhibit at Assert’s annual conference. Assert support children and families of children with the condition. Read more about the Angelman Syndrome conference

We ran an iClick and iControl demonstration of some new iPad tech and had a bunch of toys with us including an inflatable, remote controlled, Despicable Me Minion for the Angels to play with. It’s about 60 cm tall, soft and stands back up when it’s pushed over in the excitement. 

Image of the inflatable remote controlled Despicable Me Minion toy

Inflatable Remote Controlled Despicable Me Minion

We meet lots of children with Angelman Syndrome whilst exhibiting and it’s always a pleasure.  They are friendly natured and will give you a hug regardless!  Although, it can prove a challenge to stay alert as Angels don’t usually have a sense of personal belonging so when there’s attractive goodies on the table, they are the first to claim them!

I’m always struck at how happy and care-free these wonderful children are despite their condition. We can certainly say ‘the force is strong within this one!’ about many of the Angels we meet.

The following is a little fact finder for those not well versed with Angelman Syndrome:

Angelman Syndrome Characteristics

It’s usually at around 6-12 months a child will start to show symptoms of Angelman Syndrome usually in the form of late development such as not being able to sit on their own.

Children will go on to not talk or perhaps only to be able to say a few words. Instead they’ll communicate using gestures.

Other symptoms include:

  • Difficulty to walk, balance and co-ordinate
  • Laughing and smiling without stimuli
  • Flapping hands
  • Hyperactivity
  • Fits and seizures
  • Some children of two years old will have a small flat head at the back
  • Crossed eyes
  • Walking with their arms in the air

Is Angelman Syndrome life threatening?

A child with this condition is likely to live a full life although may have additional complications such as seizures that mean they need continuous support. There’s so much more to learn about this condition.

Professionals around the world are working hard to understand the causes and possible treatments for children affected by it. Much of the research is reviewed and presented at the Assert Conference.

How’s is Angelman Syndrome caused?

We know it’s a genetic issue and is caused when UBE3A (the Angelman gene) is either absent or malfunctions.

Please take a look at the ASSERT website to find out about the fantastic and much needed support they offer.

Special Needs Toys Catalogue

Catalogue alert!!

Excitim’s special needs toys catalogue (2016) is available for download from the website. Look out for the blue button on the home page. Or, click on the button below for a quick link.

Image of the 'Catalogue Download Button' on Excitim's website

Catalogue download button

The catalogue features lots of new toys and resources. In it you will find a range of switch adapted toys, sensory toys, learning resources and switches. Check out the website for more info, videos and this blog. It’s where we post reviews and in-depth discussions on the newest gear such as the iPad switches iClick and iControl.

Image of the cover page of Excitim's special needs toys catalogue

Catalogue cover page

Clicking on the image of the cover page will download it for you as well.

The catalogue is in the popular PDF file format. Most systems will open it immediately.

Get in touch through our Contact Us page if you have any questions. We will do our best to advise on the suitability of the toys for your child.

Sleep Tight All Night sleep aid

Image of the sleep aid used in the 'Sleep Tight All Night Igglepiggle

Sleep Tight All Night sleep aid

Sleep Tight All Night Igglepiggle is a versatile sleep aid designed to help teach children when to sleep and when it’s time to get up. It features a small unit that is placed inside the Igglepiggle toy that can be set to shine green or red.

Scientific background

Investigations have concluded that green wave lengths are beneficial during day light hours because they boost attention and reaction times. But green light has been shown to be bad at night as it reduces that amount of melatonin the body produces and the ability to fall asleep.

Red light is less disruptive to the natural body clock and the production of melatonin.

Sleep mode

On the reverse side of the sleep aid are all the controls needed to set-up the sleep cycle and daytime play modes.

  1. Timer: the timer is used to set the duration you would, ideally, like you child to sleep; all night or perhaps for just a quick nap.
  2. Sounds: use the ‘Sounds’ button to select which of the five soothing sounds will be heard during the sleep cycle. These range from ‘falling rain drops’, ‘sea surf’, ‘gentle heartbeat’ ‘waterfall’ and ‘crickets’ as well as a no-sound option. The volume can be adjusted.
  3. Parental Lock: once set the unit can be switched ‘on’ which prevents curious little fingers from interfering with the setting.
Red-Stay-in-Bed

RED – stay in bed

The unit is then placed into Igglepiggle’s pouch and closed with the velcro fastening.

When Igglepiggle’s tummy is squeezed the sleep aid responds by glowing red and the soothing sounds will be heard for 20 minutes. After 15 minutes the sounds get quieter and the light dims. Whilst the child sleeps the sleep aid remains active and will turn the light and sound back on for a further 5 minutes if the child is disturbed and squeezes Igglepiggle’s tummy again assisting your child to get back to sleep.

Throughout the sleep cycle the child should be encouraged that when ‘RED – stay in bed’.

Image of Sleep Tight All Night Igglepiggle sleep aid

GREEN – get up and go

When the sleep cycle set on the timer is complete a tummy press will make the sleep aid shine green. Encouraging your child ‘GREEN – get up and go’.

Play mode

Setting the sleep aid into ‘Day mode’ converts it into a daytime toy. Each tummy press then makes Igglepiggle say fun phrases and noises.

Watch the video on the Sleep Tight All Night Igglepiggle page for a good understanding of how it may help your child.

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