What is the Toys"R"Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids?
As a company that loves all kids, Toys"R"Us, Inc. has a long history of supporting the special needs community. For nearly two decades, we have published the annual Toys"R"Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids, an easy-to-use resource featuring specially selected toys that encourage play for children with physical, cognitive or developmental disabilities.
During the past several years, Toys"R"Us has worked with various personalities who have served as the "face" of the Guide. Among the many celebrities are Eva Longoria, Holly Robinson Peete, Whoopi Goldberg, Meredith Vieira, Maria Shriver, Marlee Matlin and John Ritter. This year's cover features mom, TV host and philanthropist Nancy O'Dell. Click here for a gallery of past Guide covers.
This complimentary, one-of-a-kind resource speaks to a child's individual needs and offers qualified toy recommendations based on research from the National Lekotek Center, a nonprofit organization that evaluates all of the toys featured in the Guide.
What does "differently-abled" mean?
We use the term "differently-abled" to stress that all children have unique skills and abilities.
Why was the Guide created?
Toys"R"Us founder Charles Lazarus heard from customers and store employees about the challenges of finding appropriate toys for the special needs children in their lives. As a result, in 1994 Mr. Lazarus spearheaded the creation of the Toys"R"Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids. Since then, Toys"R"Us, Inc. has published the Guide every year, distributing it in stores and, since 2006, making it available online.
Who uses the Guide?
Anyone who knows and loves a child with special needs will find the Guide to be a valuable resource. Since its inception, thousands of parents, relatives, friends and professionals have relied on the Guide to help them determine which toys are suitable for a child's particular abilities.
The Guide also offers the National Lekotek Center's "Top Ten Tips for Buying Toys," which encourages relatives and caregivers to ask pertinent questions before purchasing a toy for differently-abled kids, such as, "Will the toy provide a challenge without frustration?" and "Can play be open-ended with no definite right or wrong way?"
What do the symbols represent?
Because all kids are unique regardless of ability, toys are not categorized by disability; nor are they categorized by age. Instead, symbols are assigned to each toy so parents can find those that promote different skills, such as Auditory, Language, Social, Creativity and more. In this way, the Guide helps parents of all children choose toys that help build or reinforce a variety of skills. All toys in the Guide have been designated with at least two or more symbols. There is also an easy-to-use toy selection index that lists toys according to the skills they help develop, so parents can quickly find toys that most benefit their child's development and learning.
How are toys selected for inclusion in the Guide?
Toys"R"Us works with the National Lekotek Center, a nonprofit organization that evaluates hundreds of toys based on specific criteria during therapeutic play sessions to identify those items that best contribute to the development of children with physical, cognitive or developmental disabilities. The National Lekotek Center carefully reviews hundreds of products, selects those with exceptional qualities and writes descriptive copy highlighting the features that make the items suitable for children with special needs. Toys featured in the Guide are everyday playthings suitable for children of varying skills and abilities.
For nearly 30 years, the National Lekotek Center has provided therapeutic play services to thousands of children in dozens of centers across the United States. As a result of this expertise, the organization has become the leader in determining appropriate toys for children with unique abilities. You can learn more about the National Lekotek Center by visiting www.Lekotek.org.
Are there Safe Play Tips specifically for children with special needs?
At Toys"R"Us, nothing is more important than the safety of your children. Included in the Guide are "Safe Play Tips," created with guidance from leading safety and special needs organizations to help parents and caregivers avoid playtime injuries.
Where can I buy the toys in the Guide?
All toys featured in the Guide are available at Toys"R"Us® stores nationwide and online at Toysrus.com/DifferentlyAbled. Additionally, the microsite offers a selection of items that are only available online.
Where can I get a copy of the Guide?
Copies of the Guide are available at all Toys"R"Us® and Babies"R"Us® locations nationwide. If you represent a special needs organization or are a special needs educator or therapist, you may e-mail DifferentlyAbled@toysrus.com to receive copies in bulk free of charge for redistribution. A "flippable" digital version, as well as a downloadable version in both English and Spanish, can be found by clicking here.
How can I get on the mailing list to receive the Guide next year?
The latest version of the Guide is available every September. You can e-mail DifferentlyAbled@toysrus.com to be added to next year's mailing list. If you are already on our mailing list, you will automatically receive a copy of the latest edition upon release. For a more environmentally friendly option, click here to receive an e-mail alert when the latest digital Guide becomes available online.
What celebrities have appeared on the cover of the Guide?
For a history of celebrities and other recognizable personalities who have appeared on the cover of the Guide, see below.
2011 Eva Longoria Actress and Philanthropist
2010 Holly Robinson Peete Actress, Author and Philanthropist
2009 Whoopi Goldberg Comedian/Host of The View
2008 Meredith Vieira Host of Who Wants to be a Millionaire
2007 Maria Shriver Author and First Lady of California
2004 Dionne Quan Voice of Kimi on the Rugrats
2003 John Ritter Actor
2002 Mattie J.T. Stepanek Poet/Author/2002 Muscular Dystrophy Association Goodwill Ambassador
2001 Maria Shriver Author and First Lady of California
2000 Chris Burke Actor, Spokesperson for the National Down Syndrome Society