Gateway Therapies
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Featuring articles from our principal Occupational Therapist, Dr Nicole Grant, members of the therapy team, and guest posts from members of our community.  

Posts tagged Brisbane
Improving Fine Motor Skills and Food Independence through Yumbox


Two-year-old Clara enjoying her delicious lunch from her Yumbox lunchbox.  Photo: Grace Holgate

Two-year-old Clara enjoying her delicious lunch from her Yumbox lunchbox. Photo: Grace Holgate

There is probably nothing more challenging than finding the right lunchbox for your child. While your child’s lunchbox priorities might surround having Paw Patrol on the front and having the ‘coolest’ box in the playground, we know that parents want their child’s lunchbox to be sturdy, leakproof, have a working lock or zipper and of course, have the capacity to fit a variety of healthy snacks.

We know that having the right lunchbox is not only vital to keeping your child’s food fresh but having a lunchbox that also assists children towards food independence is an incredible feature.

During our research to find the perfect lunchbox, we came across some pretty nifty products, but none of them compared to the likes of Yumbox.

Yumbox is a kid-friendly, bento-style lunch container that is brilliantly designed for kids (and adults!). Yumbox is made of high quality, super durable and BPA-free food-safe materials, so you know that you’re buying a safe and reliable product.

Amongst parents and therapists, Yumboxes are a bit of a cult favourite- and for good reason! The bento style divides meals into sections and encourages a more holistic approach to eating. Yumboxes come in a range of different sizes and configurations, meaning they’re suited to a range of appetites and preferences. This is excellent for those picky eaters and the kiddies that don’t like different food touching each other!

But why is food independence and fine motor skills important? We spoke to our incredible Occupational Therapist, Steph Holgate to find out more.

“Fine motor skills are really important to be able to hold and manipulate utensils. When you’re a young child, you use your fingers a lot to hold food and feed yourself,” Steph said.

“As kids transition as they go through staying at home, going to kindergarten and then to school, they are not always going to have parental guidance to help them eat. In a school environment, it is very likely that a child will not have help at meal times, so it's really important that they are able to have food independence to feed themselves and get the nutrition that they need”.

Clara having her yummy morning tea and using her 'Drink in the Box'.  Photo: Grace Holgate

Clara having her yummy morning tea and using her 'Drink in the Box'. Photo: Grace Holgate

We also spoke to Founder of Mini Hippo Imports, Megan Mallen to get an insight on why Yumboxes are lunch and snack time essentials.

“The six-compartment Tapas and Original Yumboxes are better for kids who prefer to pick and choose their every bite, and the smaller sections encourage the development of fine motor skills when eating. Dry cereal, cut-up fruit, crackers and cheese and small baked goods - think muffins, quiches, pastries - are ideal for these Yumbox styles, and encourage the use of fine motor skills to pick up and eat food with their fingers,” Megan said.

“Alternatively, the four-compartment Panino and the five-compartment Tapas styles are better suited to kids who prefer larger meals, like sandwiches, wraps, sushi or pasta, as they feature one big section surrounded by three or four smaller ones. But even when given larger foods in their Yumboxes, kids are encouraged to use their fingers or a fork or spoon to eat their lunch, allowing them to practice those valuable fine motor skills they’ll need as they grow up,” Megan said.

“But no matter which style you go for, there are certain features which make the Yumbox ideal for kids who need to improve their fine motor skills, particularly when eating.  Even the clasp, which easily clicks open and close, but ensures the Yumbox is totally leak-proof by pressing the silicone lining inside the lid onto the food tray's compartments, allows kids to practice their fine motor skills every time they open up their Yumbox and see what’s inside!”

Yumbox provides a range of lunchbox styles that can cater to all of your child’s lunchtime needs! Children can improve their fine motor skills and build their food independence as they eat their delicious and nutritious snacks.

If you’re looking for the ultimate lunchbox that goes beyond storing food, then Yumbox is a must for your family!

Check out the Yumbox website for their great range of products! 

Activities for kids with autism in Brisbane

Activities for kids with autism in Brisbane

Autism Spectrum Disorder or autism, is increasingly in the spotlight due to media reports of increased prevalence rates and the never-ending search for causes and cures. Parents of kids with autism can feel limited by options for activities as a result of their child’s need for strict routine, inability to cope with crowds, noise or other sensory input, and difficult behaviours which can be more difficult to manage in public.

Children with autism however, can benefit from a range of activities and should have the opportunity to enjoy participating in the many activities available to kids in Brisbane. The key to getting out and about with kids on the spectrum is a little bit of forward planning.

When preparing your child with autism for a new adventure, consider the following:

1.    Start with activities that are largely predictable, such as a train ride on a familiar route or a walk along a road visited many times before. Discuss your plan to alter the route or catch a later train prior to doing so.  

2.    Prepare to be flexible. You may need to leave a place or event before it’s finished if a meltdown is imminent. Try again another time. The next time may be different.

3.    Try to plan activities around what is relevant to your child and incorporate special interests and hobbies, rather than what you think kids his/ her age should be interested in.

4.     Plan your day and include your child in the planning. Preparation may include showing your child photos of the place you are visiting, writing a schedule of your day together, packing a bag together of all the things you might need.

5.     In your bag, pack pen and paper for you or your child to write instructions or draw pictures for non-verbal or pre-reading kids. For sensory challenged kids, you may want to include earplugs, sunglasses, an iPod and headphones, fidget toys and other items that calm or divert attention.

One of the great things about living in Brisbane is that there are plenty of options for kids with autism and quite a few agencies that offer support to parents wanting to help their child participate.

PlayConnect Playgroups

Most mainstream playgroups and mums groups are very welcoming of families who have children on the spectrum, however Playgroup Australia run playgroups especially for kids with autism. You can find one by clicking here -

 Public Transport

Many kids with ASD love public transport. Often a train, bus or ferry ride can be an outing in itself! Try short trips first to gauge your child’s enjoyment, before embarking on lengthier trips. Look at maps, plan your route, count the stops to your destination, listen to the engine or feel the vibration under your feet. Remember that kids with autism often see and feel the world in a different way. Use these trips as a chance to see the world through their eyes.

ASD Kidz movie days

ASD Kidz is a support group for families who have children with autism. Every few months they organise an autism friendly movie day, which means that kids on the spectrum are free to move about, stim, and enjoy the movie in a judgment-free environment. Visit their Facebook page for more information -



Experience Music

Music is enjoyable for most kids, and participating in music groups can be both beneficial and enjoyable for kids with ASD. The evidence supporting Music Therapy as an effective treatment option for autism is primarily anecdotal, however many kids love participating. Informal music groups can be equally fun, and may include singing and/ or using instruments. Either search for a therapist if specifically seeking Music Therapy or try going along to one of the Queensland Orchestra’s Kiddies Cushion Concerts. 

 Visit an Indoor Play Centre

For those kids who just love to run and bounce and climb, consider going to an indoor play centre. Choose a time that’s likely to be less crowded, and go for it. There are indoor play centres located all around Brisbane. If you are unsure if this is the place for your child, consider ringing ahead first. Find out if they can make specific recommendations about how to make the visit more enjoyable for you and your child.