As parents raising a disabled child, Andrew and Sylvia experienced first hand the difficulties children with sensory impairments face. They wanted to make a difference, so they set up a business supplying educational products and for disabled adults and children with autism and ADHD. Our writer Zubee interviewed them to find out more about their business and how others can benefit from sensory toys for autism.
Please tell Disability Horizons readers about your company and how it aims to assist autistic children?
We are a family-run educational/sensory toy company. We supply sensory and educational products aimed at children and adults with autism and/or attention deficit disorder (ADHD).
We know these products are great as we have sampled them with our autistic son, Leo. We know which ones work best to help his sensory needs and which don’t.
In order to best help our son, we committed ourselves to learning about sensory integration and attended many courses to help us understand sensory processing better. We were keen to make a difference and do something to help others like Leo. That is how A World of Sense was created.
What makes A World of Sense unique to other companies?
Because of our first-hand experiences, we have empathy and understanding for people buying from us who are in a similar situation.
We’re also different because we would like to donate part of the profits to the National Autistic Society, to help it continue to do all the great research it does.
Lastly, our business is not only as a supplier of products, but we are also aiming to raise awareness of autism across all our social media platforms.
We would also like to employ autistic adults once our business grows. We know that the current employment statistics for adults with special needs are terrible and we would like to help by offering a safe place to work where they can be themselves and happy.
How did Leo inspire you to sell sensory toys for autism?
As soon as the word autism was mentioned to us we wanted to get heavily involved in the autism community so that we could better understand how to help our son. Leo’s progress has been remarkable, thanks to all the support and early intervention he has received.
It hasn’t been easy and we have had to fight along the way to get him the support he needed. It can be a very daunting time and we wanted to help others who are only just starting out with their child’s autistic journey.
We have learned so much and we wanted to share our story to help others. We also wanted to build a platform so that when our son is old enough he will understand how much we wanted to help him and others like him.
Can you tell us a bit about your sensory products and how they work?
We have a variety of products ranging from small on-the-go bags with a number of sensory treats in a variety of textures and colours to larger products that help people create the perfect sensory space at home.
These include sensory dens, bubbles lamps, bubble tables, colour changing furniture and more. We also supply fun educational products suitable for ages as young as six months.
What are some of the challenges you have had to deal with along the way?
As a new business, it is hard to start from nothing. You have to gain people’s trust and this is why we share our stories with others. People are initially reluctant to buy from a company they haven’t heard from.
You also have to invest money before you see any sort of return. We have kept our prices low as we don’t want to overcharge our customers. It does mean it takes a lot longer to start seeing a profit.
Since launching your business, what reactions have you had from customers who have bought your products?
The reaction has been positive. To draw people’s attention we have run a lot of competitions providing some lovely sensory treats to our customers for free, which has been very well received.
From your experience of raising an autistic child, what challenges do autistic children face and what should businesses be doing to make the experience better?
There is just not enough awareness. People don’t understand what autism is. When they see a child having sensory overload or a meltdown people just think that the child is being naughty or is spoilt.
We recently experienced this on holiday. Our son wanted a specific ice cream and they didn’t have it in, in spite of it being clearly displayed on their board. This resulted in a terrible meltdown as he did not understand why he could not have the ice cream he wanted. The waiter’s reaction was, ‘Has your son got an issue? He seems really spoilt’.
We then had to educate him on why he was behaving like this and explain what autism is and how difficult it is for people with it to regulate their emotions.
All staff dealing with the public should be trained on autism. The last thing you need as a parent is those sort of comments when your child is in distress. There should also be more autism-friendly areas, such as sensory rooms at airports and quiet areas.
What are your future plans for your sensory business?
We are currently an online business but we would love to open our own shop for people to come and see us and meet families just like us. We would also like to build an autism community.
If you want to find out more about A World of Sense, visit the website. If you have any questions, you can email Andrew and Sylvia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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