Woman Creates Baby Dolls To Resemble Children With Down Syndrome, Brings Inclusion To Toys

Growing up, whether it was toys, characters on television, in film, or theatre, representations of humanity have a much bigger impact on our childhood and adolescent development than we think.

This is especially true of people with disabilities. The average life expectancy for a person with Down syndrome is approximately 60 years, though some have lived well beyond that into their 80s. It isn’t uncommon for babies with Down syndrome to be born and grow through every stage of life without seeing people like them represented in childhood toys, art, media, etc.

Texas-based custom doll artist Kristy Leigh Walker has set out to bridge that gap in inclusion by creating ultra-realistic baby dolls made to mirror real babies with Down syndrome. Her mastery is impressive and she employs extremely precise methods down to the individual needling for each root of a doll’s hair. She has been contacted by many people who have children or family members with Down syndrome. But, her dolls aren’t just for babies with Down syndrome or children in early childhood:

“Because mine are so customized and look and feel so much like real babies, they are sought after as most females who have Down syndrome will never have babies of their own. They love to dress them, fix their hair, and care for them like real babies. They are very therapeutic to many for many different reasons,” Walker reported.

People who aren’t living with a disability don’t understand the feeling of being left out of the conversation or being invisible. This is a stark, daily reality in the lives of a vast population of people with disabilities — both young and old. While inclusion remains a daily battle for people in the disability community, it’s people like Kristy Leigh Walker who help bring Down syndrome awareness into a world where it may not have been thought of before.

Her desire to highlight the physical appearance of children with Down syndrome in life-like dolls has been celebrated widely. We’re confident that with more people aware and fighting for inclusion, this is merely the beginning of fabulously inclusive future.