So I suppose this is the point in the blog where I finally tell you how I got my start in the educational toy business. For anyone who’s been following the story so far, we had gotten to the point where the first spark of brainstorming hit. There was a lot of points in my planning and development process where I would question myself. The son of Louisville roofers, and roofer myself, trying to figure out a way to make educational toys for children with disabilities. But, it never daunted me. I came up with a few prototypes, and had the perfect test audience, my then three year old daughter. I would try different shapes, sizes, materials, sensory objectives and otherwise.
I began to read a lot of books on the developmentally disabled, and spoke with quite a few people working in the field to try and get a better understanding of how the brain worked, how motor functions were brought into play, all these little ticks that made my daughter unique, and wrap them up into something that she would enjoy playing with. Because all in all, I wanted to create a toy first, and off the back of that, something that she would be able to learn from. It took about seven to eight months for me to get the first toy that she enjoyed playing with. It was a simple stuffed animal, with numbers on different locations of the body. She would look at them curiously, turning the toy around in her hand and looking at all the different numbers.
Over time I began to go over the numbers with her, pointing out one, two, six as her eyes travelled over the toy. Within a few months, I would ask her a number, and she would turn the toy in her hand so that the number I requested was on top. It was one of the first times she answered a question that couldn’t be emulated either through expression or touch. It was quite the time for me. I brought my idea to the forums I had been a part of, and suddenly parents everywhere around the world were asking me if I could send them one.
It was through one of my contacts in learning about the developmentally disabled that I got an actual work order. He asked if I could make a bunch of them for a hospital wing he frequented, and to give them out to children there. It was quite the gratification for a small town guy, the son of Louisville roofers, to start to make a name for himself. At the time of writing this, my daughter is nine, and she’s quickly catching up to girls her age when it comes to schoolwork and other things, and I like to think that I had a part in that with my educational toys, though the many people who helped me, and the need to answer her questions was the biggest influence.