Spectrum Toy Store isn’t your typical one-stop shop for kids' trinkets. As ABC7 Chicago reports, the brand-new nonprofit business in Chicago’s Roscoe Village neighborhood caters to kids on the autism spectrum. Its toys and products are specially designed for customers with developmental disabilities, and families can try out the toys before they buy them to make sure they're a good fit.
Jamilah Rahim, a behavioral therapist, opened Spectrum Toy Store after she noticed that many of the families she worked with were buying their toys online because no local stores carried them. On top of that, there was no guarantee that their kids would even like the products once they arrived.
“Every child with a disability is different and their needs are different,” Rahim told The Mighty. “Being able to come feel and see the product before purchasing it gives the comfort of knowing you have purchased the right product for your child.”
In addition to selling toys, Spectrum—which has a partnership with nonprofit organization Children’s Advanced Recreation and Education—offers programs for customers with disabilities, ages 3 to 13.
“We do different activity groups,” Rahim told ABC7 Chicago. “We focus on different core areas like communication skills, life skills, cognitive skills, gross and fine motor skills and sensory play. All of the classes are play based; since we are a toy store we try to gear everything around play so we do different activities with different toys to help support the skill deficit that children may have.”
Spectrum Toy Store is the first store of its kind in Illinois, and one of several to open across the U.S. Families that live outside Chicago can purchase Spectrum’s toys online.
[h/t ABC7 Chicago]