NORTH SALEM, N.Y.— A positive experience with a monthly women’s products kit has inspired a North Salem woman to do the same for children with autism.
Occupational therapist Christina Kozlowski, a Yorktown native and resident of North Salem, said the connection was a natural for her.
She fell in love with the joys of monthly subscription boxes. Each month she would savor her own box subscription given to her by her husband that were filled with crystals, aromatherapy products, handmade jewelry and other quirky items and thought, “why don’t I do something like this only for kids with autism?”
Kozlowski has worked as an occupational therapist with special-needs children in school and home-based settings who have autism spectrum disorders neurological impairments, developmental delays, and emotional disturbances.
“I actually got this idea when I was working as a home therapist for children with autism. Parents would constantly come to me and ask for toy recommendations that would be beneficial for their kids. I found myself always writing lists for parents about toy ideas and activities they could do with them. This seemed like a good way to simplify the process for parents.”
Once she came up with the idea, Kozlowski launched Sensory TheraPlay Box LLC last Aug.
She designed a website to showcase her new product and used social media to get the word out to parents who might be interested.
Kozlowski easily got her first 30 subscribers and the idea quickly caught on thanks to Facebook and Instagram and word of mouth from other members. Her subscriptions are now up to 156.
Each box contains anywhere from five to eight sensory items.They include such things as colorful squishy putty and scratch and books, where you scratch away the coating to reveal glittery patterns beneath (for improving kids’ fine motor skills)
There’s also aromatherapy Play-Doh and special hand-held massagers that parents can use to give their children massages on their arms, hands and feet. Other products include velvet-textured coloring books or a gel-like substance with the consistency of Play-Doh and kinetic sand to help children with their bilateral hand coordination.
Kozlowski said there’s no shortage of suppliers to provide the items for her monthly boxes.
“I get them from all over. I use large play manufacturers like Melissa and Doug, but recently I’ve been getting products from small businesses and local vendors.”
Lately she’s been using a vendor on Etsy who’s been providing her with hand-crafted bath bombs that fizz and make different colors with aromatherapy blended in.
“I’m really happy to be able to source my products locally,” Kozlowski said.
Her 2-year-old daughter often serves as a willing new product tester.
In recent weeks, it’s not just parents who want to buy her therapeutic boxes. Kozlowski has gotten emails from special-education teachers and therapists who want to purchase them for their pediatric patients all across the United States.
She says they appreciate that her products are tried and true and are often an instant hit with their clients. Her two-year-old daughter oftens serves as a willing new product tester.
Each monthly box contains a postcard explaining to parents how they can best use the toy to help their child. While the box is designed for children with autism, it is also appropriate for children with Attention Deficit Dirorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and developmental delay.
At the beginning of every month, Kozlowski’s dining room transforms into a packing and shipping center, where she puts together more than 150 boxes that are shipped out Priority Mail for her customers.
Kozlowski is currently on maternity leave as she runs her new Sensory TheraPlay Box business.
“It’s definitely a big change for me to veer into this different career path. I did a lot of studying online and learning about business. I really had to learn a lot of new things at once from the technical side of things to dealing with customer-service issues that accompany such a business. Things like issuing a refund, accepting money online, how to use the software, even accepting a coupon were part of her learning curve and it was pretty overwhelming in the beginning.
“Up until then I had never even really used a computer before!” she said.
She lives in North Salem with her husband and two young daughters, ages four months and two years, dog, cat and chickens.
Sensory TheraPlay Box sells for $39.99, which is billed monthly. A three-month prepaid subscription is $113.85. To find out more visit www.sensorytheraplaybox.com, or email Kozlowski at email@example.com