Have a special needs child in your life? Warner’s Corner Toys, a Royal Oak-based online toy store, specializes in unique adaptive toys just for them. Founder Laura Hathaway created the business 10 years ago following the untimely death of her mom.
“I realized that it’s not going to matter if I ever help another person with an annuity application,” says Hathaway of Oak Park, who’s mom to a 17-year-old daughter. “I wanted to leave a legacy, and it had to involve kids. I also wanted it to be fun – and toys are fun!”
At the time, Hathaway’s closest friend was working toward a master’s degree in autism education. “She told me that there is going to be a tsunami coming because so many children are being diagnosed with autism, yet there are so few resources to help.” Hathaway decided to become one of those resources. She started with autism and then became involved with organizations such as the Down Syndrome Guild and the United Cerebral Palsy Association to better understand different needs.
As for the company name? “Warner” is her web designer’s favorite stuffed animal. It lent itself to a cozy vibe. “We wanted to create a warm, safe comfortable place where parents could find information, support and supplies.”
Here are some of her top toy picks for this holiday.
Peanut Ball by Fun and Function
Why it’s great: Kids love to sit, roll and bounce on these. Develops gross motor skills like balance and core stability. In yellow (15 inches), red (17 inches) and blue (22 inches).
Why they’re great: This beautifully designed feelings matching game allows kids to explore their feelings in various ways. Also, it gives nonverbal or low-verbal kids a “language” to communicate their feelings to others.
IAmElemental Action Figures Series 1 (Courage)
Why they’re great: Seven colorful action figures representing different aspects of courage let kids envision themselves as strong, powerful and connected beings at the center of a story of their own making.
Why it’s great: This inflatable device by Fun and Function provides deep pressure for kids that need help self-calming and developing balance/movement-planning skills.
Magical Apparel Dress Up Vests and all Gown Skirts
Cost: $29.99 (weights sold separately).
Why they’re great: These costumes have large buttons and fasteners to hone fine motor/dressing skills. Weighted bean bags can be placed into hidden pockets within the garments to provide deep pressure for calming and focus. Plus, kids develop social skills as they role play.
Drivetime Signs by Guidecraft
Why they’re great: These are great for teaching little bikers and pedestrians the rules of the road to keep kids safe in the community. Set of six. Ages 3-plus. $69.95.
Battleship or Connect 4 Touch Screen Pocket Pogo
Why they’re great: These on-the-go electronic versions of the popular board games build fine motor and social skills wherever you are.