Build-A-Robot: A Toy to Help Autistic Children Identify Emotions

When Laura Urquiaga began designing a toy to help autistic children express emotions, she had one big request from parents: don't make it look like a special-needs toy. Urquiaga decided to make a robot that would appeal to both girls and boys, along with kids without Autism Spectrum Disorder. The robot's interchangeable heads represent four emotions: happiness, sadness, anger and surprise (fittingly, the surprise head comes with a surprise: a button that can be pushed to make a sound).

While the toy's mostly intended to help preschoolers identify emotions, it also helps develop fine motor skills—each head has a different texture, the legs and arms move, and the heads attach with snap connecters.

As a bonus, the toy is also sustainably manufactured. It's made from kiln-dried, organic, reclaimed rubber wood, and uses water-based dyes and non-formaldehyde glue. The factory is powered by solar energy and biomass. Made by Plan Toys, and currently nominated for an Index Award.

Images via Laura Urquiaga