Bags of toys created to help special children get "Set to Go"

Toy Industry

Few adults feel comfortable away from home, and even fewer children are completely comfortable outside their familiar surroundings.

Going out to restaurants, running errands and visiting other people can put children off. Sometimes their behavior does not conform to social graces.

For children with autism or ADHD, the behavior can become amplified and lead to a meltdown. This was the reason that four mothers, all parents of exceptional children, created "Set to Go Bags."

Set to Go Bags offers a variety of age-appropriate toys that correspond to a child's sensory needs. Joanne Van Der Merwe, one of the founders of the business, says specific toys can be used to stimulate or soothe a child. The bags are particularly helpful in places where quiet and controlled behavior is expected, such as an airport, public transportation or other public gatherings. A child who wants to move around a lot, for example, would be uncomfortable at a wedding ceremony. If parents provide the child with Set-to-Go toys, the child is likely to become engrossed with them and settle down comfortably. "You change the behavior by providing a replacement," Ven Der Merwe said.

The owners are interested in informing parents how to use the toys appropriately. Set to Go Bags will begin integrating in-home presentations as part of their sales strategy to ensure proper application of the toys and bags. Each toy is grouped with a particular sensory system and how the item can be used to stimulate or calm. A toy that is not properly used will not provide the necessary effect.

While the bags of toys were created for children with disorders, the company insists the products are appropriate for children across the board. "We're all sensory beings, we seek and avoid certain stimuli," Van Der Merwe said. "Parents looking to buy time and sanity" benefit from the bags. Even adults have bought products from the site. We're already looking into college age [toys]."

Customers can use the Set to Go Bags Web site as a resource and are encouraged to contact the owners to discuss items being purchased.

Visit for more information.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times