I am going to be blogging periodically about companies that are listening to the special needs community of parents, educators and kids, to develop and adapt products to benefit ALL kids and listen to their needs. Today I want to highlight three companies:

ThinkFun is known for it’s depth in developing games with an educational value while being terrifically fun. They are intentional about reaching out to teachers, therapists and special educators to tap their expertise and apply their ideas. Just check out their blog, SmartPlay, that is full of practical applications of their products in the educational realm. Recently they developed a Skills Matrix for Differently Abled Kids, showing what skills were reinforced in each of their games. Play a game of  “Snack Attack” and you’ll be using fine motor, focus and attention, speech and language, social play and visual skills. Parents of children with special needs and retailers can use this information when they walk into a store with ThinkFun products and inquire about a game to strengthen their child’s skills.

MadPax sent me their latest rockin’ back pack designed for kids and adults, the Bubble. Besides the fact that it is so sturdy, well-made and a show stopper, this back pack is fun to touch. Tina Huber, Mad Scientist at MadPax, told me that they have had feedback that kids on the autism spectrum enjoy feeling the bumpy rocks on the pack. Who would have thought that this lively fashion statement would be a calming sensory experience for some kids? The BUBBLE is available in the halfpack for little people under 4 and the new insulated nibbler lunchbox. Can I have that in the adult size too for lunches on the go?

Plan Toys introduced “Build-a-Robot last year, a toy designed specifically for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Their designer, Ms. Laura Urquiaga, formed a team of experts in ASD, observed children who could benefit, and designed an appropriate educational toy for this population of kids. “Many children with ASD have difficulty identifying emotions, so that became a primary goal of Build-a-Robot. I also wanted to address sensory issues that are common to children with ASD. A range of textures from bumpy to soft were included in the design as well as a surprise element of sound, which was incorporated into changeable,  geometric-shaped heads that feature the emotions of happiness, sadness, anger and surprise,” Ms Urquiaga said. What a great tool to help kids express themselves.

If you know a company that is intentional about serving the special needs community, let me know so I can spread the word!