Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Doll With Down Syndrome

A while back on Facebook, I ran across a link where people were debating a rather interesting campaign. This campaign?  Petitioning Disney to write a story with a princess with Down syndrome.

I had never even considered this before, so I mulled it over in my head in my head trying to figure out where I stand on this issue. Addison hasn't gotten into princesses yet. She hasn't reached the phase where she has favorite movies or characters. It's easy to pick a cake theme for Carter's birthday because he has clear preferences and favorites. Addison is a bit more tricky because she just doesn't seem to care one way or another. (I think this year's birthday cake for her might be in the shape of an ice cream cone. (-;)

There is a whole world still to come for us when Addison is old enough to care about the fact that she is  different from the Disney princesses (of course, realistically speaking- we all are.) If she could communicate a bit better, would she already be asking me about this? I doubt it. I can't say with 100% certainty, but let's put that number at 85%.

I thought about a Disney heroine with Down syndrome, and I figured it wasn't the worst idea in the world. But then again, I don't know if it is a campaign that I would lay down my life for. I feel like there are much tougher issues that we need to fight- that I would choose to put my energy toward. (Let's face it, energy is rather limited these days. I find I have to pick and choose my battles veeeery carefully. Sometimes good things get ignored.)

Will Disney make a story with a character with Ds? Does Disney owe us that? Is it fair to demand this?

I don't know the answer to this. But I do know that the whole concept of Disney seems to be based on dreams, imagination, and fun. So why not?

I love that there are those passionate enough (and with the energy!) to work toward things that Addison might need/want later in life that I haven't even thought of yet- from fighting for Disney princesses to making dolls who have Down syndrome.

Including Down syndrome in imaginative play is an awesome idea.

Whether or not princess campaigns are successful, they all serve the purpose of spreading awareness- getting us to think- opening our minds towards difference in new ways.

But what about including Down syndrome in imaginative play on a much more personal level? Forget Disney princesses. What about the doll movement where every girl wants a doll who looks like her? A baby with Down syndrome of her own to love? Is it an okay thing to ask that Addison have a doll with Down syndrome? That when she looks at her doll, she sees similar features?

As I found out a few months ago, such a doll does exist.

A doll with Down syndrome
(available with the add on package of an amniocentesis kit and a stern looking genetics counselor doll that is programed to mournfully say "I'm so sorry" when you push the button on his head….okay totally kidding on that last bit. I just totally made that up….Apparently my energy is liberally spent toward amusing myself. Courtesy laugh? Why thank you very much.)

Where was I? Oh yes, the doll.

Addison happens to be the proud new owner of one of these new dolls. The name of this well-crafted doll is "A Special Joy" Baby Doll. Very, very appropriate name. Love it.
Now I'm going to be honest with you. Just as she doesn't yet care that the Disney princesses don't look like her, right now Addison could care less that this new doll has something in common with her. It is not on her radar to look at things that make her different and then question why her dolls don't have the same things. It is not on her radar to even question the concept of Down syndrome let alone point out that she has it and others doesn't.

I did not purchase this doll (as it just never crossed my mind because of Addison's lack of interest in this area.) This doll was sent to us to review from the Ashton-Drake Galleries and to give one away to one of you.

And my review undoubtedly has to start with that. Addison doesn't care. In fact, she has had a rather hard time warming up to the doll because it is so different from her other dolls. Because it looks different? No, because the quality is so much better.

Seriously this doll is gorgeous. It is heavy and well made. It has hair that feels real and blue eyes that sparkle. It has specific features of Down syndrome and almost the feel of being an actual, real live baby. It has limbs that are strong and easily can withstand the rough play that goes on around here.

Addison normally plays with beaten down, barely-stuffed dolls who daily get swirlies bath in the toilet. A doll this nice has never before been introduced to her. Until now.

I have a feeling that in a few years, this beautiful doll is going to mean a lot to her. I think that as she grows, she will attach herself to her new friend.

For now?

I keep it somewhere safe (lest this dolls takes the toilet plunge as well) and we break it out a couple times a week and learn to play sweetly with nice dolls.

So what is the rest of my opinion of this new doll?

I love the concept- a doll with Down syndrome. I think it is truly awesome that our society is starting to embrace Down syndrome as norm and recognize the equality and quality of all life in such a way. I find myself supporting this as a Down syndrome mommy looking to the future with a little girl who has a bright, imaginative childhood ahead of her.

I love how specific certain the doll's features are in an attempt to portray Down syndrome (I will say- the hair on the doll looks far different than the hair does on the website as you can tell from my pictures…just a heads up)
(the left is the doll we were sent- the right is the picture on the website)
I love how big the doll is
(point of reference- here is Eli getting just a little handsy with the new girl in town):
She's almost as big as he is!

I love the obvious high quality of the doll, and I love the pomp and circumstance with which it was delivered. (Seriously, my wedding dress didn't come packed that nicely.)
And most of all, I love celebrating Down syndrome in such a unique way. I would love to see all little girls embracing this doll into their doll communities. It would be an awesome teaching tool to slip this doll with Down syndrome into doll libraries everywhere as a way to simulate disability and difference being in the world all around but still important and worth our time. I think that would be awesome to see the acceptance reach beyond our little community, and this is a great approach to that. Any way that we can get people talking in a positive way about Down syndrome- I will gladly use precious energy to add my tiny voice to the conversation.
(Older brother thought this doll was pretty cool.)
(psssst Ashton-Drake Galleries- any way to get one of these dolls with glasses? That would be an awesome learning tool as well as super cute!)
A doll with Down syndrome? A princess with Down syndrome? What's next? A super hero with Down syndrome? I already have one of those. Her super powers include waking up insanely early and sneaking in with the baby to wake him with such soft stealth that Mommy doesn't hear the crime being committed at 4am until the baby wakes up and starts crying. Other super powers would have to be an insane power to sense whenever chocolate is near her. Or when an ice cream cone is available and has NOT been offered to her. And giving hugs. And laughing hysterically. And playing sweetly with the baby after he is awake, and he realizes that his favorite person is in his bed with him.

Man I keep getting distracted.

The doll. DOLL.

To sum up my review? It's a beautifully crafted doll; Addison is still warming up to the doll who she is not allowed to bathe in the toilet; and the boys are enthralled by it (perhaps the doll reminds them of Addison?)

Sooo....would you like one?

Leave a comment telling me which princess (or prince) in your life that you would give this doll to, and you could be the lucky winner (also- feel free to comment on the Disney Princess thing. What do you think about that?)

Ashton-Drake is giving away one "A Special Joy" baby doll to one of you. I'm not doing the fancy Rafflecopter giveaway as I have done in the past because I feel like it's just another step for you to log in and then keeps you from entering. Just leave a comment- here on the blog, and I will use a Random generator to pick a comment next Wednesday at midnight (11/5). The winner will have a beautifully packaged piece of art delivered to them. Just one entry per person, please.

This makes me so sad because a lot of my favorites aren't from the US, but because of  Ashton-Drake's shipping policies, the giveaway is open to US Residents only.

Like peanut butter on the fingers of a curious toddler, this post is begging to be shared.
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