Adapting Toys for Special Kids

Kids playing together

One of the irksome things about having a child with special needs is that the high cost of raising a typical child suddenly goes up – by a lot. And it’s not just the equipment, it’s also the toys. All kids pick up important skills from playing with toys – social skills, pre-literacy skills, gross and fine motor skills. But adapted toys can cost way more than you want to spend on something your child is sure to outgrow in a short time.

So Heather Bennett, an Ohio mom of a 19-month-old with spina bifida, took matters into her own hands and began adapting toys herself. It doesn’t hurt that she’s an industrial engineer for a major car company and knows her way around a switch or two. She took a workshop on adapting toys and began adding buttons and switches and generally adapting regular toys for kids of all abilities.

She and her team of volunteer engineering students from Ohio State University adapt toys for all levels of skills, from children with developmental delays to those who are quadriplegic and have minimal movement. And the toys are the cool ones, the ones all kids get excited about, like Cheerleading Minnie Mouse, Dinosaur Train toys, and bubble makers.

Even better, she keeps them in a lending library at Easter Seals Central and Southeast Ohio. She calls it Katelyn’s Kloset after her daughter; a membership costs just $50 a year, which gets you two toys and two adaptive switches for 30 days. So you don’t even need to buy them, and once your child outgrows it, it’s not cluttering up your closet.

Heather is happy to help set up this kind of arrangement at any other local Easter Seals location. Check out the full story here.


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