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Hasbro helps kids with disabilities learn to play

PROVIDENCE — Toy makers at Hasbro don’t want Mr. Potato Head to end up at the bottom of toy boxes, simply because children with developmental disabilities don’t know how to play with him.

Hasbro Inc. has partnered with The Autism Project, a group of parents and professionals who help people with autism to create instructional videos and tools to help children with developmental disabilities learn how to play with their toys.

The Pawtucket, R.I., toy company will launch the ‘‘ToyBox Tools’’ initiative on Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio, at a national conference on autism and disabilities, OCALICON 2014.

Parents and caregivers can access the tools for eight of Hasbro’s classic toys for free online at the ToyBox Tools website. The series of Mr. Potato Head videos introduce children to the toy, explain how to assemble him in creative ways, and show how to play with him with other children.

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Karen Davis, the senior vice president of global philanthropy and social impact at Hasbro, said that knowing how to play with these toys may not be intuitive for children with developmental disabilities, including autism. Three engineers at the company thought of the idea, she said, so every child can ‘‘experience the joy of play.’’

About 15 percent of children in the United States have a developmental disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Joanne Quinn, executive director of The Autism Project, said ToyBox Tools will have a ‘‘huge impact’’ because parents will feel more empowered to play with their children, and children will learn how to play at their own pace and learn important life skills.

Associated Press