Doll therapy

Im wondering what people’s thoughts are on the use of dolls for adults with LD.

We have an elderly lady at the day centre where I work who has autism and downs syndrome, a colleague brought her baby in for a visit the other day and this lady held the baby so carefully and was stroking her face and so attentive to the baby. This lady doesn’t get involved in much and I’ve never seen her react so intently to anything.

This is probably going to come back to the debate on age appropriateness but I’ve read about how dolls have been used with positive outcomes in dementia care and wondered if the same could apply in LD.

I wonder if she was reacting to a real little human? Women who have not had children themselves may have longed for one - but this is not often acknowledged when it comes to older women with learning disabilities. So holding a longed for baby may be what she was reacting to. To me a doll would not replace a baby, as there is no interaction possible. Is it possible for the baby to visit more?

I know plenty of typical people who like model trains ,doll houses. As long as its played with in private ie not take dolls to shops etc, what’s the problem.
Something like a dolls house could be a great communication facilitator?

It would not be possible for the baby to visit more (it’s a complicated story). I didn’t think of it in that way, this particular lady has only ever interacted with other people when she needs them to do something for her so I guess I never thought that she might have in some way wanted a baby herself.

Thank you for beginning to think of it in this way. So often the desire for
children that many women with learning disabilities have is denied or

My first exposure to dolls in older adult settings triggered that exact “age appropriate” thoughts/alarm in my head you mention if I’m honest. Since then I have followed the literature with interest following my initial reactions.

Obviously, there is nothing wrong with anyone having a doll but equally we shouldn’t make it sound legitimate/structured activity by calling it a therapy. I think lots of the research has been about the reduction of different behaviours to the woman you mention and equally they mention dolls for women who were mothers not who have longed to be mothers. That said there is nothing to suggest that a doll could not provide the desired outcome for both groups and the woman you support.

Equally, you will also have to ask and answer the wider questions of what “service” the day service offers to this lady (& what it sets out to do) and can you offer the activity in other ways as well as a doll if that is the route you go down.

A post was split to a new topic: Supporting a young woman who wants a baby