I believe it’s important for every CCLS working in the hospital environment be knowledgeable on how to meet the unique needs of kids with developmental disabilities and their families. Often times, developmental disabilities are associated with chronic health conditions resulting in some sort of medical intervention(s) during their lifetime. That being said, these kiddo’s are often a top priority for me when I check my census each morning. So, how do I help these patients? Lots of ways!
- Play! Here’s a tactile stimulation activity I set up for one of my patients. Even though some kids are non-verbal, they still have likes and dislikes even when it comes to play. Ask mom/dad/caregiver for any preferences the patient may have. If it’s just you and the patient, figure it out! Talk to them, laugh with them, play with them, see how they react when you help them engage in the different activities. The patient I took this activity to LOVED the feathers but she absolutely did NOT like the slime – haha!
- Volunteers! Just like their typically developing peers, kids with special needs get bored too! Especially spending long hours in the hospital setting away from their routines. Don’t be afraid to have your volunteers visit these patients. Introduce your volunteer to the patient and model some appropriate play opportunities. Often times when I have patients that are admitted without family members at the bedside, I create an “about me” board as if written by the patient along with toys/activities I know the patient will enjoy. The “about me” boards are bright, handwritten, and easy to spot by any volunteer or staff that goes into the patient’s room. I write something along the lines of:
- Hello Friend! My name is ______ and I am ____-years-old. Thank you for stopping by my room to play with me! Some of my favorite things to do are: listen to friends read to me, listen to the radio, squeeze play-doh in my hand, hold toys in my hand, and just have fun. There is a basket by the window where you will find some of my favorite toys and activities. If I need anything while we’re hanging out, my nurse’s phone number is on my whiteboard. I can’t wait to start having fun!Love, _________
and Diane, my child life specialist (extension #)
- Resources! I’ve found many items that have proven to be very helpful for pediatric patients with special needs. Whether for support/distraction during a procedure, for relaxation and coping, or for recreational play, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorites. Click: http://a.co/2wbxj0E What are some of your favorite resources to offer this population?
There are tons and tons and TONS of resources out there on working with kids with developmental disabilities in the hospital. Do your research!
Still feeling a little nervous about helping patients with special needs? There’s no need to be nervous! They are just like their typically developing peers – yes… really, they are! One of my favorite pages on Facebook will prove it to you. Click here: https://www.facebook.com/specialbooksbyspecialkids/
Happy nurses week to each and every nurse I’ve had the pleasure of working with during my adventure in child life. Child life specialists are dedicated to making your job a little easier by keeping our patients (and their families) calm, distracted, and happy. You guys are rockstars! 💜💉💊🎉
Another fun event my team and I hosted in honor of child life month was a teddy bear clinic. This event is usually a great hit with the patients and families.
We started off by giving each “doctor” their patients chart. Here we included some information on the “top 10 reasons to call your child life specialist” as well as information on the different stations at the event.
These are all of our “bear-y” sick patients. We contacted our marketing department and they had many bears with our hospital’s logo that they were happy to donate to us!
This first station is where our “doctors” would gown up and get ready to treat their patients. This was a very popular station and it was so adorable to see kids proudly walking around looking like doctors.
The next station was triage followed by the IV station. We had a CCLS at each of these stations helping guide the “doctors” as they cared for their patient. Here is where we were able to sneak in our education & address misconceptions.
Here’s a closer look at our triage station and IV station.
Finally, the patients were able to do an x-ray by dipping our demo bear into white paint and smudging it on black paper. This was a very fun and creative way to incorporate medical art into our teddy war clinic.
Some other activities we had at the clinic were a photo booth station with props and a table with markers, crayons, and construction paper for the “doctors” to write a get well soon card to a patient in the hospital. We also included band-aids and gauze at this station to continue to promote medical art. Needless to say our clinic was a big success and all of our teddy bears were cured. Thanks, doctors!
Child life month is well underway! One of the fun things we set up for our patients and families so far was a child life month kick off carnival. Some of the fun activities we offered were:
A medical myster box
Saline bag toss
And spin the wheel
We also had additional games and of course, prizes, music, and even the hospital clowns came down and paid us a visit!
How have you kicked off child life month at your hospital?
Happy Child Life Month, everyone! My schedule at work is jam-packed with fun events and activities for our patients, families, and staff to engage in all throughout the month of March. Some of these activities include a Child Life month kick-off carnival, a teddy bear clinic, a bubble party, a syringe painting party, and a Child Life birthday party!
I’m also doing something special this year for Child Life month… drumroll, please…!
Adventures in child life merchandise!
You can find my Etsy shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Adventureinchildlife – This has been a dream of mine for a long time and I’m so excited to finally get it started. Stay tuned as I will be adding more exciting merch in the upcoming months.
What fun and exciting things do you all have planned for this year’s Child Life month?
It’s almost time again for the national Child Life Conference and this year it’s in Las Vegas, Nevada! To see the (super exciting) program for conference click here. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to be attending this year’s conference, but if I don’t, the Association of Child Life Professionals has a wonderful backup plan for those that can’t make it all the way to Vegas this May. After you register for the conference, for $50 more you can purchase the “All Access Pass”. With this pass, you are able to watch all of the sessions that were at the conference and receive professional development units (PDU’s) for them! I purchased the “All Access Pass” for last year’s conference (which I was able to attend in person) and I HIGHLY recommend it. You have 1 year before the sessions expire and you can watch them all on your own time at your own speed. Now if we can just get them to mail us our complimentary tote bags and SWAG from all of the exhibitors we’ll be all set!
Whether you’re planning on attending or not, here are some conference tips:
- Students: If you’re financially able to go to conference, GO!!!! I cannot stress this enough. I truly wish someone had told me when I was a student to attend one of these conferences. They’re incredible and you’ll leave ready to take on the child life world! Plus, not only is it a great place to network, and learn, it’s also something you can add to your resume that will prove to potential practicum/internship coordinators that you are truly interested in the field of child life.
- Looking for a new job? Go to the conference! As I mentioned above this is a great place to network and there are even boards where you can post up your resume for potential interviews!
- For those who cannot attend this year, try and do the all access pass! This is the option I’m leaning towards and yes, it’s not as fun as actually going to the conference, but the sessions this year really are phenomenal. Look at the program and highlight the sessions you’d be interested in – if you highlighted your entire program in yellow like I did, get the all access pass!
- For those of you that are going to the conference, HAVE FUN! I was in Las Vegas last year for vacation – in fact, that is where the photo above came from! I highly recommend the Beatles love cirque du Soleil show – I laughed, cried, and fell in love again with the Beatles – 100% worth it. I also highly recommend checking out red rock canyon, which is about an hour outside of Vegas. They have tours and breathtaking views – do your research and get your desert fix.
- Hurry! Prices for the conference will rise on April 1st, 2017! Register ASAP!
Asthma is a pretty common diagnosis, not just on the respiratory unit where I work, but everywhere! I had asthma as a kid and I know lots of other kids around me had it too. It was something pretty “normal” to me growing up and I never really thought twice about what it was, why I had it, and I loved that it came with the perk of not having to run the mile in P.E. Even while working in the ER, a chief complaint of asthma was not a high priority compared to everything else coming into the department (unless the patient had a very bad asthma attack).
Seeing more and more asthmatics come onto my unit now in the “winter” months down here in Miami, I began doing lots of research on different asthma education resources. I found tons of resources just by typing in “asthma education for children” in Google.
Here are just a few I found:
The list goes on and on and on, however, after a couple of asthma teachings using these resources, I felt like something was missing. I wanted to my patients to reach specific goals I had for them which were not always all covered by the resources I found.
My goals for my asthma lesson plan are:
- What part of the body is affected by asthma (lungs)
- How many lungs they have (you’ll be surprised how many older school aged kids have told me 1!)
- What happens when you have an asthma attack (bronchial tubes become tighter)
- What can cause an asthma attack (identifying triggers)
- How can you help lungs/airways feel better if you have asthma (long-term medicine/quick relief medicine)
- and what are the symptoms you might feel when you are in the green, yellow, or red zone (self-awareness)
I mixed some pages from various resources I found online and also created some pages myself to help me get my message across the way I feel is best for my patients. While creating my new asthma education packet, I still felt like I was missing an effective concrete example demonstrating the difference between healthy lungs and lungs experiencing an asthma attack. That’s when I created the activity below!
- While going over our asthma education packet, the patient and I cut out lungs from the packet (the best printable version of lungs I found were from this website: http://learncreatelove.com/printable-lungs-craft/ ).
- Then the patient and I will glue the lungs onto paper lunch bags. In an effort to save paper/materials, we make 1 lung with asthma and 1 lung without asthma vs 2 lungs with asthma and 2 lungs without asthma.
- After we glue the lungs onto the paper bag, we tape a smoothie straw into one lung and a cocktail straw into the other lung. I have the patient then blow into the healthy lung and suck the air out a few times. Then I have the patient blow into the lung with asthma and such the air out a few times as well. This way, the patient can clearly experience the difference in breathing and how it is much more difficult to breathe during an asthma attack than when lungs are healthy. *Check with the patient’s nurse before doing this activity to make sure the patient is clinically stable enough to do breathing exercises. You wouldn’t want to exacerbate them!*
- After this activity the patient and I then continue with the education packet (triggers, medicines, etc.)
There are TONS of resources on asthma out there – asthma books, asthma camps, asthma videos, asthma games…look on the child life forum too! As a reinforcer, I also created an asthma memory game to make patients more aware of common terminology usually associated with asthma (albuterol, pulmonologist, inhaler, spacer, etc.). I also encourage them to download (with their parent’s permission) an app called “Widzy pets” which centers around asthma education in a fun way.
What are some ways you help your patients learn about asthma?
I am so excited to have signed up for a 3-day kids yoga teacher training which is coming to Miami next month. Let me start off by saying I’m not a yoga teacher nor would I consider myself a yogi. My experience with yoga is nothing more than the occasional free class at the park or gym every now and then. Maybe a back bend or two at home when I’m in need of a good stretch, but nothing more.
About a week ago I stumbled upon Rainbow Kids Yoga – a company that focuses on giving its students the tools they need to teach yoga to children and families around the world. By glancing at their class schedule, it’s easy to see Rainbow Kids is everywhere – around the US, Europe, South America – everywhere!
How can this class help me as a child life specialist? These are just a few items on the agenda that I know I can use in my day-to-day work as a CCLS: Making yoga work for different age groups, breath and yogic breath for kids, yoga for children with additional needs, relaxation and guided imagery for children, meditation for different age groups
Aside from enhancing my clinical skills, I will also be able to teach children yoga on my free time if I desire as I will have “Registered Children Yoga Teacher (RCYT) status”.
*Cough* *Cough* To all those child life students looking for credentials to spice up their resume’s and stand out in a crowd of applications – look into this!
Stay tuned for a part 2 of this post after I complete the training!
For an overview of the training click here: http://www.rainbowyogatraining.com/3-day-kids-yoga
You can see the class schedule & register for the upcoming class in Miami here: https://events.bizzabo.com/201924/agenda
Today is world diabetes day! I thought I’d share one of my favorite resources to teach patients about diabetes. American Girl makes these adorable diabetes care kits which our child life team is lucky enough to be able to give away (along with an American Girl doll) to our newly diagnosed patients. The kit serves as a great teaching tool by including: a daily log, an insulin pen, glucose pills, and more! I love using this kit as a guide while reviewing diabetes education with patients by seeing how much they know & answering any questions that may arise. What are some cool ways you teach patients about diabetes?