Toys R Us Releases Catalog for 'Differently-Abled Kids'

Don't look now, but the holidays are coming… fast! So if you're searching for new lobby or waiting room reading material sure to interest both parents and kids, look no farther than the new Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids from Toys R Us.

The pamphlet-sized catalog identifies dozens of toys currently available that achieved high scores in 10 different skills categories: auditory, creativity, fine motor, gross motor, language, self-esteem, social skills, tactile, thinking and visual. Each toy highlighted in the catalog is accompanied by color-coded symbols that show which of the 10 categories the toy helps to encourage and develop.

Accompanying text describes how each toy works to promote skills and lists retail pricing. Kids with disabilities act as the catalog's models.

The catalog is a joint project between Toys R Us and the National Lekotek Center, which evaluates toys for children with disabilities.

"A lot of hard work goes into developing that catalog," says Sarah Bessette, a marketing consultant who does work for Toys R Us. "It's not just an arbitrary selection of toys. We test those toys extensively to ensure that they are appropriate for differently-abled kids." The testing is done by groups of children of different ages and with different types and levels of disabilities, including youngsters who use wheelchairs.

"These toys are not specially made," Bessette notes. "They're everyday toys." She adds that it's important for kids with disabilities and their parents to be able to find engaging, appropriate, but also popular toys that don't make those children stand out among peers. "They can play (with these toys in the catalog) with their siblings and friends, and they're toys that you can find in all of our stores."

The guide — which serves as a resource not only for parents and kids, but also Toys R Us employees — is produced annually and is distributed free at all Toys R Us locations. An easy-to-use virtual guide is also available online at www.toysrus.com/differentlyabled.

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