Toys That Teach: Dolls With Disabilities

If you’re a parent; especially, parenting a child living with a disability I’m sure you know children learn through play. A couple of years ago when I visited St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital I learned how the hospital uses dolls to teach their patients about their diagnosis and treatment. I also remember what a huge difference the JDRF bear made for my daughter when she was diagnosed with diabetes. The bear shows her where she can receive her insulin and it made her feel more comfortable with her health changes and challenges. When my daughter hugged her teddy bear tightly and took it everywhere she went for a while, I knew that dolls absolutely make a difference in a child’s life.

I’m so happy that Makies, A British Toymaker, has seen the lives of children with disabilities as important. Yes, dolls that look like the children who play with them help validate them in our world. The dolls also help affirm them, ease their fears and give them understanding through roll-play examples. I’m also excited because the Makies Lab is moving to the USA, so these amazing dolls will be made right here is the USA. Yay!

Makies was inspired by the European movement “Toy Like Me.” This movement celebrates “[disabilities in toys, which Makies Hearing Aid Dollcalls on the global toy industry] to better represent the 150 million children with disabilities worldwide” (source). The movement encouraged parents to have custom dolls made for their kids and then it encouraged parents to post the dolls on social media networks. Well, sure enough, posts poured in from across the world, and Makies the doll company took notice. The Makies doll pictured on the right is my favorite, she is a beautiful brown curly-haired doll with pink hearing aids.

Makies isn’t the only doll company encouraging diversity in the toy industry. In fact, 2 years ago, American Girl, granted a unique request from an 11 year old girl who had two American Girl dolls, but didn’t feel that her dolls actually reflected her as a little girl because her dolls didn’t have a diabetic pump like she did. Her petition to the huge toy maker was heard and now American Girl sells diabetes care kits as an accessory for their dolls. American Girl also sells other accessories which helps kids see disabilities in a positive light. Some of the kits include wheelchairs, crutches, hearing aids, as well as dolls without hair. (source).”

As a parent, this movement to help children feel included is heart-warming. It is great to know that children with disabilities can have their diverse differences acknowledged and celebrated, which gives me hope that our future is brighter than we realize.


Masunaga, Samantha. New accessory for American Girl dolls: diabetic care kit. Retrieved January 19, 2016 from

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