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These Stores Make Finding Toys for Special Needs a Snap

Whether for a gift, a developmental purpose, or just to replace a toy that didn’t quite hit the mark, these retailers stock toys that come recommended by parents and therapists alike.

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Easy is not a word that pops up in your life very often. But when it comes to toys, finding quality, entertaining playthings for kiddos should at least be enjoyable, right? We hear you, not just any toy will do, especially when a child has a specific developmental need or disability. Digging around we discovered that finding the right retailer will go a long way toward lightening your shopping experience.

A handful of companies produce high quality, truly entertaining toys that cater to specific needs, whether physical, developmental, or emotional. And although they can sometimes be hard to find, the retailers below connect families with those toys. They also offer helpful resources and toy expertise as an added bonus.

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Autism Community Store

In 2007, Shannon Sullivan, of Denver, and her father started “the first store in the country to specialize in products for individuals on the autism spectrum.” At the time, Sullivan’s daughter had been diagnosed with autism. Finding toys, books, developmental supplies, and products to assist with their day-to-day life was proving to be a challenge. Opening the Autism Community Store gave them a chance to supply hard-to-find items to other families experiencing the same thing. The store also builds community locally through the in-store Resource Library and events, such as the monthly sibling-only meetup called Siblings Clubhouse, annual Pictures with Santa, and occasional sensory-friendly hair salon days in the store.

Autism Community Store is closed during stay-at-home orders, but is offering curbside pick-up and shipping for online orders.


Beyond the Blackboard  

Learning has always played a central role at this locally-owned toy store, founded by two sisters (and moms) with a passion for education. The two metro locations of Beyond the Blackboard—in Aurora and Arvada—and the website carry a tried-and-true selection of toys and games to support sensory disorders. The variety of sensory sand, foams, putties, and other calming materials ensure any shopper will find the right toy. The specially curated Fidget Kit is filled with toys to help kids develop focus. Not sure what you are looking for? Engage with the staff. They consistently receive high praise for knowledge and customer service.

Check out all the educational products and “Critical Learning for Cooped Up Kids” items to support any students at home.  


Fat Brain Toys

This Nebraska-based, family-owned toy company cultivates a collection of toys for children with a wide range of special needs, based entirely on the feedback of customers. Search for toys by specific special needs or by developmental goals. Then check out the reviews posted by hundreds of parents, educators, and therapists. Fat Brain Toys also uses feedback from customer reviews to assign each toy with a ranking on their Toy Value Index and Toy IQ system.

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No local storefront, but most orders ship within 24 hours.


Lakeshore Learning

Visit the Special Needs Product Guide on the website of this nearly 60-year-old educational toy store. The toys and learning materials you’ll find support children with autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, developmental delays, dyslexia, and speech and language delays. Organized by area of need, the guide highlights key skills each category develops. Check out the resources tab for a collection of free calendars, flash cards, and a (cute!) online award maker.

There is one storefront location in metro Denver. Lakeshore Learning near Park Meadows Mall is offering curbside pickup during stay-at-home orders.


Patti & Ricki

Visit this website for the level one Effortless Art Crayons—produced in a triangular shape with a middle grip to give all abilities the opportunity to create. Stay for the variety of practical devices and playful assistive-device accessories. Kids can customize everything from wheelchairs to compression vests to show their personality.

This creative company also offers hearing aid charms, customizable braille necklaces, and earrings with messages showing ASL signs.

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