The holidays have come and gone. Now we are left with all these toys that little man and Bean have no clue on how to use. When you think of childhood, you think of playing and imagination. For many children, play just doesn’t come natural as it does to others. That is where Hasbro and The Autism Project have stepped up to the plate with the Free Hasbro Toybox Tools, making play accessible for all children!
When Play doesn’t come easy
After an autism diagnosis, play therapy is the one major tools used. Through play, children can learn both physical skills and social interactions. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, not always.
Whether you are a neurotypical or autistic parent, knowing how to teach your child to play may not come natural to you either. I would watch my son’s therapist play with him, then try to repeat the same things later on. This would sometimes work, but there were many times I sat there lost on how to “play.”
Being autistic, play never came natural to me either. I never played toys with other children or even my parents as a child. The play I did do, was more exploring nature and conversation as opposed to play. To put it simply, I do not know how to play and I am very uncomfortable trying to imaginative play with even my own children.
So what are you supposed to do when you hit this point, where you need to help teach your child to play. Well, we now have an amazing answer to this question that applies to some of the most popular toys on the market!
Hasbro ToyBox Tools -Making Play Accessible
“To fulfill our mission of creating the world’s best play experiences, we need to make play accessible to all children of all abilities,” said Samantha Lomow, Senior Vice President, Hasbro Brands. “I’m proud that ToyBox Tools started as a grassroots project from some of our employees who saw an opportunity to offer a solution to a problem that many families face. Their passion and creativity speak to the values we hold as an organization, and I’m delighted that we’ve expanded the program in collaboration with The Autism Project to offer new resources for families, and use our brands for good.”
When the great folks at Hasbro reached out to me to tell me more about the ToyBox Tools, I was amazed at what they had created in collaboration with The Autism Project. When I first looked at their website, I honestly could not stop smiling.
The website is a breeze to look through. There was a ton of resources which included Countdown Timers, Wait Cards, Turn Taking Cards, Help Cards, Break Cards, FIRST/THEN BOARD & SEQUENCING CARDS, Play Mats, and Play Books
I was instantly more than happy to let my audience know more about this awesome tool. Helping neurodiverse families is what this blog is all about. What I wasn’t expecting, was for Hasbro to send us each one of the toys to check out along with those tools.
Putting the Hasbro ToyBox Tools to the Test
When I received a very large box on my doorstep, I fully admit I was not expecting all those toys in there. Six toys with guides on how to use each one. Each guide contained a “basic play” as well as “social play” instructions for these top toys of the holiday season!
I decided to get a little creative, and we practiced our Christmas routine a little early. In my office, I set each toy with its matching instructions against the wall. Then day by day, Little Man and Bean would choose a toy to work with. This way, we reduce the overwhelming aspect of having multiple toys at once.
Little man went first, and took most of the toys (I kind of expected this one, lol). Bean did jump in with some of the social plays, which was nice and helped her practice playing with her brother (this is a tough one for her).
The first thing we tested out was the Playskool Heroes Transformers Rescue Bots Flip Racers Griffin Rock Racing Team. We did not prepare much ahead for this one, so I was literally reading as we went. You can see how that went here:
All in all, I was super impressed. The instructions were so easy to follow for both of us. We have since done the social play, and it was such a blast. This was a definite win. Check out the Rescue Bot ToyBox Tools
Little man’s next choice was the Baby Alive Lil’ Slumbers Baby doll. It was so fun to see him interact with a baby. We used the guide to play pat-a-cake with the baby, play with the teether, and even feed the baby. His favorite part was burping the baby as he got to pat her on the back and say “BURP.”
I loved how not only does this teach a child how to play with a baby doll, but it invokes empathy and learning why the baby is “upset” or “happy.”
The social play section of the playbook was really great for us trying to balance two autistic children who are both learning social play. Simple interactions and learning to play together worked out great.
Check out the Baby Alive PlayBox Tools
Next up was Little man’s all time favorite toy, the Playskool Play Favorites Form Fitter. We have had shape sorters before, but he did not seem to have much interest in them. About a week prior to getting this in the mail, we had actually donated the two he had!
I never would have imagined him not only playing, but loving a shape sorter. The play book went through a ton of “First/Then” steps that made play a breeze! Going through each block, this made the activity take about 30 minutes long. I enjoyed this as it had us playing together.
Check out the PlaySkool ToyBox Tools
Bean took a turn with play and chose to play with the Playskool Play Favorites Form Fitter.
Though the toy was little younger than her age range, it was very fun to interact with her on this one. We focused more on social play, since I was playing with her. I was surprised how much interaction we had during the social play, even with her being 9.
Bean did enjoy the play, even though she thought it was a little silly. At the end of the day, Princess Celestia has found her way into Bean’s toy collection. So I call that a win!
Check out the My Little Pony ToyBox Tools
This was one of the toys that fell between our kids age ranges. A little to young for Bean, a little to mature for little man. Little man did decide that he wanted to give the TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT 1-STEP TURBO CHANGER BUMBLEBEEa go.
I fully admit I was a little nervous with this one as transformers have always been a toy I have seen kids get frustrated with.
It does state that it is 1 step. It is one step to make it into a robot from a car. Little man got that one easy with the instructions. The reverse steps (robot to car) is actually three steps. This part was too much for little man.
So I took on the 3 steps from the guide. The guide did make it is very easy to follow. I had difficulties with the underneath catching on its latches. This made it a fourth step for me. I could imagine that a 5-6 year old could figure this out better than me though, lol. Check out the Transformers PlayBox Tools.
The final toy to test out a long side the toybox tools was the classic Jenga game. Now Jenga is a game I have known for many years. When you have known a game like this for so long, you don’t think that there is anything new to learn or teach about. That however is farest from the truth!
Through the basic play, there was a great deal of sensory play with learning how the blocks feel along with new ways to play. There are counting and sorting sheets you can print so that you can count and stack the blocks in an all new way.
The step by step, picture instructions are perfect for teaching the game for the first time. I loved that there was a picture of the blocks falling down. This helped Bean understand that the blocks falling is a part of the game, and can be fun.
The social play was amazing too! It explained how long to wait, turn taking, and positive conversations for the game. This is a great time to use the turn taking printables to have more visual cues.
Check out the HasbroGaming PlayBox Tools.
Hasbro ToyBox Tools -Making Play Accessible
I honestly could not be happier that Hasbro reached out to us! The care, love, and compassion they poured into this project is amazing. The fact that they worked directly with The Autism Project shows the commitment they had to making this work. The Hasbro ToyBox Tools definitely gets The Mom Kind’s approval! To check them out, click on the images below!
Alicia Trautwein is an autism parenting coach living in Missouri. She is the creator behind The Mom Kind, a website dedicated to parenting neurodiverse families. She is one of the head creators behind the #WeLoeveMoms campaign and is also featured in the “Amazing Moms” coffee table book by Hogan Hilling & Dr. Elise Ho. She shares her expertise along with her experience in parenting children, both with and without autism.