MoneySuperMarket have another challenge for bloggers – this time it is the Retail Royalty Challenge which involves being given £30 to spend and trying to get the best value for money in order to benefit a local charity of your choice.

Anything which gives people a reminder to think about local charities and to support work that is being done in the local community has to be a good thing, so its great that MoneySuperMarket have offered this opportunity.

It was not too hard for me to chose my charity. As some readers may be aware, I have a young son with Autism and various developmental delays. It is is not always the quickest process to get the diagnosis for your child, and meanwhile you can be stuck in a kind of limbo where you have a child with delays in several areas but not a lot of support and no idea really what to do – other than keep waiting for more appointments, which could sometimes be months apart. That is where Portage came in for me. You can self refer if you have a child with delays in two or more areas and they will come and work with your child even before you have a fixed diagnosis. This is brilliant and I always recommend them to anyone who is in that situation!

A lot of people have not heard of Portage, and I had not either until it was recommended to me on the Mumsnet Special Needs section (also very good and highly recommended by me – there are so many parents there with a lot of experience, whatever your question someone tends to have the advice needed. It’s a wealth of knowledge over there!)

Portage do home visits where they will do activities to support the child in their development. My local branch of Portage also run special needs playgroups which is really nice. I do find regular playgroups a bit hard at times, as seeing all the other 3 year olds (and younger children) chatting away and doing things that your child can not do can does get you down a little bit at times and it is nicer to have a group where the parents all understand the situation you are in with the children.

Another brilliant thing my local Portage do are signing courses, I went on this quite some time ago now and it’s one of the best things I did for my little boy. It helped his communication massively so I am really grateful to them for that.

They also helped me a lot in the practical things like giving support with DLA forms and initiating my little boy into nursery, and they work with the local Early Bird course too. They are such a useful service and really they deserve more than £30 but £30 is what I have and I tried my best to get the best value for money for it.

I decided to get some early learning resources as the Portage home visitors are always going round to families with bags of activities to help support the children’s learning and development and it is always nice to add something new. I thought about the kind of activities my little boy would benefit from to help him develop his skills and bought those.

I decided to look on the Early Learning Centre as they are quite good value and have a good range of toys which are focused on development as well as being fun. Luckily they have a sale on so that made my money go a bit further.

I got the following:

Pop it in the Post game £15.00

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My complete activity pack – with lacing, threading, sorting etc activities. £10.40 in the sale

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Lacing Safari Friends – more Lacing activities £6.50 in the sale.

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Thomas and Friends book – £2.49 in the sale.

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Wooden Cat racing car toy – £2 in the sale

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This comes to over 30 but I did have my 20% discount from ELC as its my son’s birthday this month too and I got free delivery as I ordered other shopping at the same time, so it came to over 50 entitling me to the free delivery.

I am quite pleased that I was able to get a few things for the money by shopping at ELC as sometimes when you look in specialist catalogues everything is quite expensive. I hope these resources come in handy just as something extra to use with the children and I will be passing them over to our Portage person later in the week.

Thanks to money supermarket for providing the money and setting this challenge!