My Sibling® and My Pal® dolls were created by Loretta D. Boronat, a mother, teacher, advocate for people with disabilities, and seamstress. The original idea for 18 inch dolls was brought to reality with the establishment of the My Sibling® brand. Loretta is an experienced seamstress, and while working from home, had received advice from a friend about the rapidly growing cottage industry of making doll clothes for 18 inch girl dolls as a possible source of more business in her local community. She took this advice and went right to work, designing and making beautiful 18 inch doll clothes and accessories. All the while she was building this small enterprise, she was thinking about two things that would eventually lead her to creating her own doll business: first, there was not a boy doll to be found in America; second, how could she teach children about their peers who have disabilities? She decided to teach the lessons she had in mind in booklets that would be included with her dolls. She would tell stories from the perspective of the typically developing brother or sister of the child with the disability, hence the name “My Sibling Dolls.” Originally, there were six (3 boys, 3 girls) My Sibling® characters: four about siblings with autism, and two about siblings with Down Syndrome. The girl dolls were phased out very early on, when the focus shifted over to what Loretta saw as the biggest gap in the market – boy dolls! The stories were intended to teach children about the challenges and rewards of living with a sibling who learns and grows differently than others. As a mother of a child with autism, and a teacher of the handicapped, Mrs. Boronat was able to base these stories on the real life experiences of her own family and the families of her students. It was very important to Loretta to offer dolls for boys, because there are so many boys impacted by having siblings with disabilities. Since her mission is to teach children about their peers who develop differently than they do, it is imperative to include boys in everything: dolls, 18 doll clothes, and the stories.
When Loretta realized that she needed to have a broader appeal to reach more customers, she established the My Pal® brand. She developed new characters with booklets of a different size, format and content. These dolls address themes which Loretta thinks are important for children, such as caring for their environment, caring for their peers, being a peacemaker, being healthy and fit by participating in sports, being a good citizen, being a caring member of a community, and more. She has also incorporated her passion for autism awareness by including a character for that important topic, as well.
My Sibling® and My Pal® products are outfitted and packaged by adults with disabilities in a local sheltered workshop.
about the My Sibling/My Pal Work Program.