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Toy Sellers, Makers Offer More Options for Autistic Kids

December 24, 2016
in Kids

In this Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016, photo, owner Bethany Mathis stands near a number of interactive games at Time 4 Toys, while her son Hayden, 14, tests out a game, in Flowood, Miss. Toy stores, with bright lights, loud sounds and crowded aisles, can be hard to manage for children with autism or other sensory issues. For parents, finding toys that match their kids' skill sets and will hold their attention can be a process of trial and error. Big toy sellers and specialists are both trying to provide some better options. Hasbro, for instance, offers tips on how parents can teach autistic children to play with Mr. Potato Head or a My Little Pony set. Toy maker Melissa & Doug offers stores special catalogs. A Toys R Us in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, turned off its music for three hours on a recent Saturday morning and turned its break room into a quiet zone as part of an event planned with the Greater Philadelphia Autism Society. The company's 100 stores in the U.K. have been offering similar hours for one day a year since 2014, and Toys R Us plans to bring similar events to more of its 900 U.S. stores. Chuck E. Cheese's, the chain with arcade games and rides, similarly plans to turn off the music and dim the lights at 40 Northeast restaurants for a couple of hours one Sunday a month starting in January, as part of a trial run. In the meantime, small stores designed specifically for children with sensory issues are popping up as well. "The need for a store like this is even bigger than I thought it would be," says Bethany Mathis, who opened Time 4 Toys last month after having a hard time finding toys for her 8-year-old son with sensory processing issues. The walls at the store in...

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