Ready & Abled

Suzanne Robitaille looks at disabilities and special needs.

Hearing Aids a Nice Fit for American Girl

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American Girl now sells dolls with hearing aids, well as dolls without hair, giving little girls who are differently-abled an even more personalized doll experience. Any 18-inch My American Girl doll can be fitted with one or two hearing aids. All it takes is a visit to an American Girl store, er, doll hospital — the closest one is in New York City — where a doctor will perform a permanent piercing behind one or both ears for a $14 fee. New dolls also can be ordered with hearing aids already installed. The hearing aids are removable and sell at all American Girl stores, and online, for $14 each.

The company also released an adorable service dog-in-training set for dolls who are blind or in need of assistance. The dog, Chocolate Chip, wears a service vest with a handle that a girl’s doll can hold. The set comes with a selection of faux treats, and costs $34.

American Girl isn’t the only doll maker to cater to tween girls with disabilities. MyTwinn has long offered its dolls with removable hearing aids, and an online company named Sew Dolling has created Sew-Able, a line of Special Needs Dolls with a variety of impairments and disabilities. Sew-Able dolls have attachable above- and below-the-knee prosthetics, bald heads that come with wigs and hats to represent chemotherapy treatments, and dolls with walking braces, which are more realistic than crutches for kids with mobility impairments.

Dolls without hair are another customization American Girl now offers, making the doll-owning experience even more special for girls who have cancer or alopecia. The dolls must be ordered by phone, and can have light, medium, or dark skin tone. You can also choose your doll’s eye color. Alternatively, a new head without hair can be created on your current doll, for a $44 fee, at the doll hospital.

As a bonus, “American Girl will offer one free doll head replacement should a girl’s need for a doll without hair ever change,” says Julie Parks, Director of Public Relations for American Girl, “because we know that not all hair loss conditions are permanent.” A new free head is a nice touch, and shows that American Girl is being sensitive to the needs of kids with disabilities. If a child’s life or hair situation changes, so should their doll’s.

To order a new doll with a hearing aid or without hair, contact American Girl’s contact center at (800) 628-5145.

Suzanne Robitaille

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