“Differently-Abled” Toy Catalog: Integrated or Segregated?

Toy BearBy Ellen Hierl

You’re making a list, checking it twice and trying desperately to figure out what to give everyone on that list.

Not an easy task for sure. But then as you go down the list you see the name of a child who has a disability, and the task of buying a gift seems even more challenging. You question whether the age guidelines on the box will apply to this child? Will the child know how to use it? Will it be safe? Basically, you just aren’t sure how to approach this.

Maybe you will just get a new sweatshirt instead.

But what if you had a guide to assist you in your selection?  Toy Block

Toys-R-Us has produced a catalog especially designed for children who are “differently-abled.” It includes a buying guide and even breaks down toy selections based upon specific areas of need a child may have. There is some really great information in this guide and it would be a good tool for selecting toys. I love the fact the various models playing with the toys are engaged with toys for their age group.

For instance, they don’t have pre-teens playing with toys designed for a toddler. I also appreciate the fact they selected toys that kids without disabilities would play with.

This resource is very well done.

However, in a time when we are endeavoring to assist people with disabilities to be non-segregated members of society…

Is a special catalog sending the wrong message?

Would it be possible to include the tips offered in this catalog in a general catalog? Would that accomplish the same goal without singling out the unique needs of children with disabilities? Would it better foster the idea that kids have more similarities than differences? Would it actually assist in breaking down some of the misconceptions about children with disabilities if these tips and models were seen in more widely publicized catalogs?

I have to admit I am conflicted about this one.

I see the benefit of a resource like this. I just wonder if it could have been more valuable if it was included within the regular catalog. What are your thoughts?

3 Responses

  1. I would like to see differently-abled kids included in the regular, every day catalog. This would send a huge message that these are regular kids.

  2. I totally agree! Although I appreciate the guide and think it could be an awesome resource for parents, friends, other family members and therapists, I’m sad that they totally segregate the kids with evident disabilities into their own catalog. In fact, I wouldn’t have known the catalog even existed if it were not for a blog mentioning it and linking to it. There is NOTHING on the Toys R Us home site that mentions kids with special needs. What would be SO wrong about incorporating the symbols for special skill areas into the regular Toys R Us catalog? And pictures of kids with evident disabilities using those toys? Because, I think, like it or not, people with disabilities still make people uncomfortable. It’s an ongoing divide in our culture: we must be politically correct by providing for the disabled, but not make the rest of the population uncomfortable by actually interacting with them.
    Great post, Ellen!

    • I had not noticed that the catalog was not on the regular Toys-r-Us sight. I just spent a few minutes looking for a link to it and did not find it. This bothers me as it is even more segregated. Why not have it easily available? There are links for Girls/Boys – why not one for “differently-abled”?

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