Northbrook resident Suzy Kogen Friedman for years had wanted to craft something that could become the constant companion of children like her nephew Timmy.
Timmy has severe autism and a sensory sensitivity disorder. And while most children could have a blanket or a toy that could be hugged or even drooled on, Timmy was never able to have that one thing that could give him a sense of comfort day and night, she noted.
Timmy is 13 now, but Friedman never forgot that notion. Friedman, partner in Soft Clothing, a company that produces garments for children with the needs and behaviors similar to Timmy’s, has created Borris, a chew-safe toy with a whale of a tale to tell.
Borris the Prince of Whales, is the first in a line of plush sea creatures that will provide one of the most basic joys of life, Friedman said.
“Having a soft, cuddly plush toy is an important part of childhood—a companion to come along on trips, take to bed, cuddle with for comfort, and play creatively with. My nephew would often chew his toys for oral motor input, and the plush ones were always the first to go. I wanted to develop a toy he could love, but not destroy, with safe dyes and fabrics,” Friedman said.
Children with autism and some form of sensory sensitivity have senses that are all on overload. They do not want to be touched or hugged, she said. They feel uncomfortable in their own clothing — certain clothes make them itch, silk-screened shirts could be rubbed through, she said. Toys such as Beanie Babys, could be unsafe because children could bite through them.
This creature though is made of chew safe, non-toxic materials, constructed with reinforced seaming, and a double layer of canvas and bonded plush.
Borris sprang out of Friedman’s imagination and admiration for these giant mammals.
And it comes with its own message: “He is loving and kind, he makes friends with all of the creatures in the sea. Borris looks past everyone’s differences and is accepting of everyone. It’s a message of love and acceptance and friendship,” she said.
Besides, how many whales come with their own rap rhyme that kids can download and color and its own tag that can be made into an origami whale?