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Stories From Main Street: Westchester Boutique Helps Young Women With Autism Develop Skills

Isabelle at Girl AGain Boutique in Hartsdale. (credit: Sean Adams/WCBS 880)

Isabelle at Girl AGain Boutique in Hartsdale. (credit: Sean Adams/WCBS 880)

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HARTSDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A mother in Westchester County has opened a store to help her autistic daughter and other young women with autism get real-life work experience.

Girl AGain boutique in Hartsdale specializes in second-hand American Girl dolls and accessories, but it isn’t your typical store, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported.

“We’re a non-profit dedicated to developing job skills and employment opportunities for young women with autism,” said Marjorie Madfis.

Madfis opened the store after being inspired by her 18-year-old daughter Isabelle, who is moderately on the autism spectrum.

Stories From Main Street

main street Stories From Main Street: Westchester Boutique Helps Young Women With Autism Develop Skills
Sean Adams reports

She said Girl AGain offers, “specialized attention using particular teaching methodologies, giving a lot of opportunity for repeating skills, but also taking advantage of their strengths.”

One of Isabelle’s strength is her knowledge of American Girls dolls. She has to cope with situations that might create social anxiety.

“Sometimes it gets a little, a tiny bit crowded in here,” she said.

Clinical psychologist Sheri Baron works with the young women.

“There’s development of skills for tasks and then there’s development of the emotional and social piece,” she said. “Just being in an environment where you’re working with other people, where you’re regulating, where you’re able to sustain attention for 30, 60 minutes, when you have customers in here and have people walking by, for you to be able to regulate and sustain in that environment is a huge success.”

Isabelle is learning and making progress.

“I like to be surrounded by American Girl merchandise and American Girl has so many memories for me,” she said. “After I graduate next year, I’m going to get a job at the doll hair salon at American Girl.”

“The pride that she has, the confidence that she has, now she knows she can do something useful,” Madfis said.

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