Shop sells toys for kids with disabilities

June 11, 2009 10:11:36 AM PDT
Summer time is a combination of playing and learning, which is important for many children with disabilities. Finding toys that are educational and therapeutic is what makes this all possible. There are a number of toy stores that are designed to challenge a child's ability. Toys Et Cetera is a shop whose mission is "Learn to to learn."

Nancy Stanek, a former elementary teacher, opened the first Toys Et Cetera store in 1976.

"I was trying to find better toys for my own children, who were youngsters at that time," said Stanek. "We've since expanded to four different locations but still remain the small little educational shop that we were."

All of the toys have learning tools which are beneficial for children with different disabilities.

"You know, physical skills, cognitive skills, emotional and social skills," Stanek said.

For example, there's the Bumpity Block for children with visual impairment.

"Because it has fabulous textures and little bumpiness on the blocks and very bright colors," Stanek said. "This one is an interesting manipulative toy that again helps out with the small motor skills and what you're doing is each one of these junctures here there is a dollar or button that the child activates to move the bead along."

Snap bags are good for children with autism.

"You snap them all together and you put them around your neck. They are so relaxing, so calming," said Stanek.

Small hand toys are not only inexpensive for children with different abilities, they are also good for adults.

"For people whose abilities have been compromised by stroke or any number of things, too," said Stanek.

Finding the right toy also requires asking questions about a child's ability, like for a child with autism.

"Because certain autistic children have an aversion of a lot of different stimulation, so you have to be careful in what sort of toys you're choosing," Stanek said. "What puts a smile on my face is when I see someone else like you smile at me seeing a young child really enjoying themselves."

Toys Et Cetera has four locations. Three are in Chicago and one in Evanston.

For more information on store hours, location and prices you can either call 800-546-0900 or go to