Grace and her Dollies!

Parenting can be super stressful at times, but I never thought the help a dolly would bring would be so immense – essentially the help of a dolly has changed our lives!

As a child, I was NEVER interested in playing with dolls – all of my friends wanted to play dolls and families etc. and I never had any interest in that – I didn’t see the significance in playing pretend families and having a pretend responsibility. As an adult, I can now see the big role dolls can have in a child’s development.

Dolls are some of the oldest toys around for children – for centuries, many children have had dolls as their comforters and companions. Play is so beneficial for all children, but for children with SEN, this can provide crucial

They can help teach a number of different things through the concept of play, such as:

  • Imagination
  • Social skills
  • Responsibility
  • Empathy & Compassion
  • Language

Over the past year, I have LOVED watching the little relationship that Grace has built up with her dollies. She takes her dolls everywhere, usually by the leg, and they are all like her little best friends, which is so heart-warming.

As the information above suggests, Grace uses imaginative play a lot with the dolls. I have seen her getting them to give kisses to each other and herself, get them to talk to each other and talk to them as if they were another person.

We have even used dolly for Grace’s Gross Motor Skills! We use dolly when Grace is on the swing to play catch with. She loves this game and has learnt to catch so well! She usually initiates this game by passing us the dolly and saying ‘Catch... I got it!.’

As a child with Autism, this is super important and so amazing to watch – right in front of our eyes, she is teaching herself social skills and affection. This has definitely come over in to normal, everyday life, as she is becoming so much more affectionate with us, she now loves to give us kisses and cuddles. This is such an amazing feat for us, as it’s something we never thought would come.

We have definitely used dolly to our own advantage over the last month or so – in getting Grace into the bath, to school and to clean her teeth. She is now starting to feed dolly her foods, so I am hoping to include dolly in trying some new foods and get Grace out of her safe space of beige foods.

In terms of emotional development, Grace is dependent on her dolly at the moment for providing that comfort she craves in time of upset or stress. She takes dolly with her to school and on trips out to give her that constant reassurance that there is a familiar presence always there.

We now have a collection of around 7 dolls, as we always fear one would get lost, and she would not take to another. In true style of a child with ASD, Grace loves to line them up, as if they were guarding the door to her room.

Everyone who knows Grace knows the importance of her dolly in her life, and it will be this way for as long as she needs it – they are like family.

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