Central Florida special needs kids get toys with assistive technology

By Eric Levy, Anchor/Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, December 14, 2017, 7:13 PM EST

Almost two dozen kids in Central Florida, who require special needs, are having a great holiday. They're home playing with their new toys that they wouldn't otherwise be able to.

  • Local special needs kids play with assistive tech by ATMakers
  • Toys have lights, noises and larger buttons
  • FAAST helps kids get assistive tech they need

While they can't necessarily say how happy they are, they can show it and finally enjoy toys like other kids.

"It's pretty fun," said Oscar Hernandez, father of 9-year-old Llarell Hernandez. "I mean, he gets to practice with it a lot, master the device which is also fairly new for him."

These are regular toys retrofitted with assistive technology. They have larger buttons, ones that can activate the toy's lights and noises with a feather touch.

"I used to be one of these parents who is in the hospital with a child with these kids of needs, and we can do better for them," said Bill Binko, founder of non-profit ATMakers.

Toys and other devices, manufactured specifically with assistive technology, are extremely pricy, and Binko knows that all too well.

"We were in the hospital a lot, and it is a life that's very difficult," Binko added.

He works with the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology, or FAAST. They determine the communication needs of kids and helps get them the assistive technology they need.

In Llarell's case, it's a Spiderman toy that he can operate with his limited movement.

"Seeing that there's people out there willing to make these modifications, pretty much opens the door for every single toy out there," Oscar said.

ATMakers taps high school students who are studying robotics, or a similar career path, to put what they've learned to use to make these toys.‚Äč