An adapted doll plays an important role in the work of a north-east children’s charity.
The doll has become a learning and support tool used by Charlie House to help youngsters who have a sibling with a complex disability and life-limiting condition
It is one of a number of support initiatives the charity carries out for siblings.
Leigh Ryrie, children and family support manager at Charlie House, said: “The importance of learning through play and playing to evoke thoughts, feelings and emotions in a safe environment is vital.
“In one of my previous roles I worked as a play specialist within the Play Department at Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital, where they used similar dolls to prepare children for medical procedures.
“I took inspiration from this and decided to create a bespoke doll to allow interactive play for the siblings we support and to help increase understanding of the medication and equipment that their brother or sister has.
“By creating something which the siblings can play with together and through role play, you start to find out what the siblings know or have heard, which means we can then adapt the support they require.”
The doll was introduced at the start of the year and has proved to be popular.
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Leigh said: “The family feedback has been wonderful with one family saying that their children were absolutely over the moon seeing to their baby who’s just as special as their wee sister!
“These dolls can also be adapted with the parents to allow us the chance to find out more about each child’s medical condition.”
Aberdeenshire mum Eleanor Thorburn, whose family is supported by Charlie House and jointly adapted the doll with Leigh to replicate daughter Noa’s medical needs, said, “This doll was adapted to match our daughter’s needs, with various tubes hanging about, which obviously isn’t normal with standard dollies!
“Her brother and sister were absolutely delighted to come home and see the doll who looked just like their sister. Her big sister was so excited, she took it into school the next day to try to teach her friends about the tubes Noa has, and why she needs them.”
Charlie House sibling support also includes visits at school, home or at a venue best suited for each individual child. The team also offers the opportunity for siblings to attend free sibling club activities.
For more information, contact Leigh Ryrie, on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01224 313333.