Boxes fuel parent-child play

Two Chicago-area sisters dreamed about ways to help families with special needs kids have more fun together. Late last year, Elizabeth and Melissa Ames took a big step toward making that dream reality when they launched EarlyVention, a box subscription that provides ready-made activities for parents and kids on the spectrum and with other developmental disabilities.

The company grew out of their background as kids whose mom worked in special education and later, as Melissa also went to work as a therapist and special needs teacher. “Every parent wanted to do more,” she says she quickly discovered. They just didn’t have the resources or the time to look for and copy activities for their kids.

Before long, Melissa found herself hunting down activities and laminating them for parents and teachers alike.

As they started creating EarlyVention, the sisters discovered subscription boxes for special needs, but none that focused on fun parent-child interaction and hands-on activities that also work on learning skills. The boxes include stories that support positive behavior, and boost language and independence, all without putting a time burden on parents who are already overwhelmed.

Because the boxes are so unique, EarlyVention is catching on.

The company works with adults with special needs, who assemble the boxes. “They take such pride that they know they are doing it to help kids like them,” Elizabeth says.

The sisters’ hope is that as the company grows, the skills needed will grow, allowing them to train and hire more adults with special needs. They hope to also send subsidized boxes to families in need around the world.

“Our goal isn’t to make money; we want to share as much information as possible with parents,” Elizabeth says.

To order, visit

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