A mother of four opens toy store for kids with special needs
In the heart of Wareham, there is a toy store like no other. Located on 171 Marion Rd., Piecing It Together provides specialized toys for children with autism, ADHD, or other sensory issues. All items are available for kids to try out before they buy them.
Behind Piecing It Together, there is Jess Roy — a mother of four whose 8-year-old twin sons were diagnosed with autism at 18 months old. As they grew older, she says she saw a need for this type of store.
“When I was a new parent, it was extremely hard to find resources for kids on the autism spectrum, so I am bringing everything to one spot for parents,” said Roy. “It is important that children can touch, try and pick up the toys they like because what works for one kid might not work for another.”
A 500-square foot store features dozens of toys, including weighted animals that promote calmness, Magic Cube, which helps with sensory motor development, and Swing Hammock Pod Chair, which often helps Roy’s sons to calm down. The store also assist customers in purchasing a wearable GPS trackers for pinpointing a lost child’s location.
Piecing It Together will celebrate its grand opening on March 31. Roy will also host a monthly support group at the Wareham library to connect with other parents raising kids on the autism spectrum.
“There are other parents out there who are going through the same thing,” Roy said. “I might have an idea that works for my kid that another parent hasn't tried and vice versa. Sharing that knowledge with special needs families is huge and we should try to help one another.”
Roy said that one of the biggest motivations behind launching the store was to create a safe space, where parents with autistic children could buy toys without the fear of being judged.
“When an autistic kid has a meltdown, it looks as a temper tantrum for somebody else, but it is not a temper tantrum, it is sensory overload. Kids can’t handle all the light, all noise, it is just too much for their brains to process,” said Roy. “People would often look at me like my children were brats. They weren’t brats, they were just overloaded.”
A single mother ever since her sons were diagnosed, Roy has mastered balancing her time between family and business, which she said, “took a few years to figure out.”
“You adjust,” said Roy. “You deal with it and it becomes easier over time. I am always tired, I am not going to lie. But you just do it. No one else is going to do it for you.”
Although the store is not officially open, the feedback from the community has been positive. Roy said more than 50 people on Facebook announced their plans to attend the grand opening. Roy hopes her store will succeed so she can achieve her next big dream.
“My dream is to franchise the store and then employ people with autism,” Roy said. “That's a big dream, but it is a dream.”