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Development by Design

A child’s job is play. I started Development by Design (DbD) to fill a void in the toy world: toys designed for children of all needs and abilities. One out of seven kids in the US is currently diagnosed with a disability. 1 out of every 150 kids is currently diagnosed on the Autistic Spectrum. Despite these numbers, most products are still not designed with this growing population in mind.  We are attempting to change that through Development by Design.

While existing toys are generally inappropriate, Development by Design’s toys address the development of cognitive, motor, emotional and social skills that children with special needs have trouble with. Our toys take into consideration these obstacles and we focus on particularly challenging areas of skill development.  Development by Design's toys are not age specific, but skill specific, making them perfect for kids with or without special needs. 

Julie Robbins, our licensed pediatric occupational therapist, and I have worked to divide skill development into ten distinct areas of development and we have created an iconography to represent these areas. As a parent, teaching arithmetic and other standard subjects is relatively intuitive; when you have a child with special needs teaching is far from intuitive and can be extremely overwhelming. Development by Design’s toys allow a parent to choose the appropriate toy based on the skill-specific icons. Our toys are not intended to replace your child’s therapy, they are intended for you and your child to have fun while reinforcing the skill areas being addressed.

By focusing on specific skill development and making our toys exceptionally adaptable, Development by Design’s toys are perfect for kids with a huge range of special needs. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Angelman Syndrome, and most other special needs will enjoy and benefit from Development by Design’s toys as much as typically developing children will. The included game booklets show easy, medium and challenging game options and great ideas on how to tailor the toy for your child and his or her needs.

Development by Design’s mission is to allow kids with or without disabilities to develop new skills while having fun just being kids!


Jessica Zarin Kessin
Founder/ President
Development by Design

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