Encouraging group play is extra important for us because our son is showing signs of autism. We are trying to do as much as possible to bring on his social interaction and engagement while he is being assessed.
Exploring this area recently has highlighted the lack of information available to parents in the UK from toy retailers and manufacturers. Companies in the US, who appear to be a step ahead in this regard, dominate Google search results for terms such as ‘toys for autistic toddlers’.
The small number of UK retailers which do offer this information appear to charge a premium for their trouble – in many cases doubling the price of readily available toys, by simply adding more information to the listing. It feels like these companies are exploiting parents, and making a quick buck at our expense. It’s clear that an opportunity exists over here for mainstream retailers – and manufacturers – to address this market more clearly. While most product listings will show age suitability, very few address children with additional needs.
Conversely, American retailers address this market with a staggering amount of information. Simple things like toy recommendations for individual needs, informative blog posts and Q&As with parents are all easily found.
It isn’t just parents of additional needs children who need this information. Friends, relatives and support staff struggle to know which off the shelf products will be suitable. The basic description doesn’t always tell you what you need to know.
I’m hopeful in the near future, people will be able to browse online and confidently purchase for kids with additional needs in the UK – without paying a premium.