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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

New store for kids with ADD, autism, sensory issues



butterflytunnel.jpgUPDATE: After seeing this blog post, the Tradewinds Resort called to offer the store owners a free night's stay as a raffle prize at the grand opening party because the St. Pete Beach resort has autism friendly accomodations. How cool is that?

There's a new store open in Clearwater for kids, but it's got a unique mission. Instead of Play-Doh, they sell "therapy putty" which are brightly colored pots of putty that progress from super soft to extra firm to meet a wide range of strengthening needs. They also have an array of puzzles that do double duty as therapy tools and specially engineered scissors, spoons, kid chairs and pencils that make life easier for kids with special needs or developmental issues. 

The store, Kids Toolbox, is already open, but they are having a grand opening party April 21 to showcase that this is no ordinary toy store, but one with an array of 'tools' for children and caregivers who face challenges posed by autism, ADHD/ADD, developmental delays, sensory disorders, and other issues that make things like writing your name, learning to sound out words or eating with a spoon difficult.

trickyfish.jpgA game like Tricky Fish, right, may look like a toy but it's actually a tool to help a kid develop gross motor skills, eye muscles and attention span. You can find special tools like Dual Control Scissors that make it easier for an adult to help a child with weak fine motor skills or poor vision. The Fridge Clip helps a non-verbal child identify food, and the store stocks seamless socks for kids with sensory issues that make normal socks torture on their toes.

Owners Mike and Pam LeGath are hosting a grand opening celebration from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the store April 21, at 1550 McMullen Booth Road, Suite F5. There will be promotions and prizes. The owners ask that you bring a non-perishable food item to the event, which will be donated to The Mattie Williams Neighborhood Family Center in Safety Harbor.

"We want to make our store unique, not just a typical retail store."  LeGath said. "We want this to be a community resource center where all feel welcome and can share ideas and information. No longer will people need to blindly order these products online.  They will have somewhere to try before they buy."

LeGath's family had their own frustrations buying things like weighted blankets off the Internet for a member of his family and the frustration of sending returns back and forth through the mail. "It finally dawned on us that there's a lot of people going through this, so we contacted professionals, therapists and teachers." He says he found out that they also liked the idea of seeing the therapy products for themselves.

"We thought if we had a store not only for the parents, but for teachers, doctors, therapists, then the pros can make a better recommendation to parents and the parents get a better buying experience ... and the kids invariably (have) a preference," LeGath said.

The store has a sensory safe area for kids to play while parents shop with puzzles and busy boards. LeGath plans to host parents, teachers, therapists and children to participate in support groups and seminars. For example each Sunday at 1 p.m. they will have a 45 minute children's class for $10 per class.

Here is the  schedule:
4/29 Yoga with Susan
5/6 Art with Beverly
5/20 Music with Hernando
6/3 Karate with Sensei Dean

Once a month on a Monday evening will have lectures for adults. On April 30, an expert will talk will about ADHD and the resources available. Call them at (727) 799-ADHD (2343) to sign up. Keep up with them on Facebook for  promotions and events. You can also order their products online on their website.

--Sharon Kennedy Wynne

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[Last modified: Thursday, April 12, 2012 2:50pm]


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