As a pediatric oncology social worker, Amy Jandrisevits used dolls in play therapy to help children express themselves. Then one day, a revelation struck.
“I realized that the dolls’ thick hair and perfect health were doing the kids I was working with a disservice as they were often faced with a wide variety of physical challenges,” she explains here.
Her research found no places that produced dolls with prostheses or missing limbs. So Jandrisevits, a mother of three who lives in New Berlin, Wisconsin, decided to take action.
In 2014, she started A Doll Like Me, which provides custom-made dolls for children with physical disabilities. Along the way, the 45-year-old has found a way to combine her long-time hobby of doll making with her passion for social work.
One of her first dolls was for a little girl who just had a leg amputated. Since then, Jandrisevits has made dolls for children with a wide range of medical circumstances. Each doll mirrors the owner’s gender, ethnicity, interests and body type – so the child can look into the doll’s face and see his or her own.
“Whatever it costs, whatever I have to do, I’m going to get a doll in the hands of these children. This isn’t just a business. It’s the right thing to do.” — Amy Jandrisevits, A Doll Like Me
“In an ideal world, limb difference, body type, medical condition, birthmarks and hand differences would be as accepted as all of the other things that make us unique,” says Jandrisevits on A Doll Like Me’s Facebook page. “Until then, kids might need a little extra coaching…and something that will help them feel proud of who they are.”
Jandrisevits, who has made over 300 dolls in the past four years, has many names on her waiting list. She started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to pay for the dolls when parents or caregivers can’t afford them (each handmade doll costs around $100 with shipping).
“Whatever it costs, whatever I have to do, I’m going to get a doll in the hands of these children,” says Jandrisevits. “This isn’t just a business. It’s the right thing to do.”