Autism spectrum disorder, known as simply "autism," is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the U.S. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate the number of children with the disorder at 1 in 68 as of 2010. At 1 in 42, autism is more common among boys.
Although medicine has been making steady strides toward a cure, autism warrants an immediate response. Due to the varying nature of autism cases, therapy must be tailored to the child's needs. Therapies may include any of the following: intervention therapy, social interaction exercises, special needs education, and playing with dolls.
Yes, you heard that right: dolls. These playthings do seem to have a distinct effect among special needs children (SNC). In "Children with Autism: A Developmental Perspective," psychologists Marian Sigman and Lisa Capps define these dolls as "passive recipients of children's care." Indeed, SNCs as young as two years old have been known to treat dolls like living beings capable of action and emotion.
These dolls normally come with simple stories that not only nurtures the SNC's imagination but also increases autism awareness. The stories are based on real-life cases of siblings of SNC and teach the child’s family how to deal with autism. These stories are, to some extent, applicable to other developmental disorders like cerebral palsy and sensory impairment.