Favorite Find of the Month

My favorite find of the month are these coloring books that feature kids with disabilities! Sue Nuenke and her son, Christopher Harmon, have worked together to create fun coloring books and stickers that will help kids ‚Äúsee characters that look like them too‚ÄĚ. I am a huge fan of any and all resources that I can provide for children with disabilities ‚Äď much more so those resources that help normalize their environment. These coloring pages are available on the website (link below) to print for free!


For more information on Popping Wheelies visit: http://themighty.com/2015/08/1this-mom-created-coloring-books-that-feature-kids-with-disabilities/

Providing Support for Children with Special Needs

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This is a topic that I hold very near and dear to my heart, so much so that I am working on my masters degree in developmental disabilities! As like any new Child Life Specialist, it’s already challenging enough to master the art of effectively matching appropriate interventions to a patient’s temperament, family influence, and medical procedure, while working alongside the multidisciplinary team and balancing everything else that comes with the job. Now throw into the loop a child with a developmental disability with whom you have little or¬†no experience in providing support and services for,¬†things can surely become overwhelming. Remember, I work in an emergency room so my scenarios (with any patient) are often¬†quick, urgent, and stressful. So, what’s my game plan? How can I provide Child Life services in a situation where my usual go-to interventions may not be as effective?

First and foremost: ask the parent/caregiver! This is your best source of information because they know exactly what their child needs to cope and feel most comfortable. I will often introduce myself to the patient and the family and then ask them how I can help their child Рwhat form of distraction works best for them? are there any particular environmental changes I can make to help him/her feel more comfortable (dimming the lights, allowing him/her to sit on a chair vs the bed, warmer temperature in the room)? what is his/her favorite cartoon/character?

After speaking with the parent/caregiver, I will have some information in my back pocket on how I can adjust my interventions for this unique situation. Also, I always make sure and have specific toys set aside for kids with special needs Рtactile sensory toys, toys that light up, toys that make noise, puzzles with pegs, etc.

I had a chance to ask parents of children with special needs what they felt are some things that heath care professionals can keep in mind when working with their child. Below are their responses:

Please be mindful that just like their typically developing peers, children with special needs are all unique in their own ways – there is no “one size fits all” intervention. What may work for one child may not for another,¬†regardless¬†of their disability/diagnosis.

  • iPad for distraction
  • Asking the doctor to¬†remove his/her white lab coat before entering the room
  • Providing sensory friendly toys
  • Dimming the lights
  • Providing ear mitts to reduce all the noise (it’s easy to forget how noisy the hospital setting really is – everything is beeping, overhead PA, constant new people walking into the room, phones ringing, medical equipment, etc.)
  • Fluorescent light blocker
  • Lead vest to weigh down on the child (maybe your radiology department has an extra one they can lend you!)
  • Bean bag toy (¬†http://www.orientaltrading.com/reinforced-bean-bags-a2-61_4000.fltr?Ntt=bean%20bag )
  • Disney¬†Soundtrack
  • Not spending a long time in the waiting room, being a priority to get into a room and be seen
  • Having animal figurines for him/her to play with
  • Having candy such as bubblegum, lollipops, or skittles (this one depends on¬†a LOT, be sure to not only check with the parent/caregiver if you can provide this, but first and foremost the nurse/doctor)

Do you have any tips I didn’t mention? Comment below and let me know!

Favorite find of the month

Probably just¬†like most of you reading this, I’m a sucker for child life-y apps! This month’s favorite find is an app called “Okee in Medical Imagining” created by the Royal Children’s Hospital all the way in Melbourne, Australia. This very cute & child friendly app¬†gives it’s users an insiders view on different radiology tests and procedures – focusing on the 5 senses (what will i see? hear? feel? taste? smell?). The wording is very clear and concise, perfect for parents to read to their child or for kids to read on their own. Aside from the educational side, there are also fun games for the younger population that focuses on things like holding still, taking deep breaths, filling up with “glow ink” (contrast), finding broken bones on an x-ray, decorating your own CT machine, giving finding sea stars inside a jellyfish with an ultrasound, venturing in the MRI submarine, and even games for nuclear medicine and¬†fluoroscopy!

 For more information about the app visit: http://www.rch.org.au/okee/

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Favorite Find of the Month

This month’s Favorite Find is a kickstarter campaign named Princessability¬†that will create fairy tales where the leading roles are filled by princesses with a disability, cancer, or illness. Books will be available in English & in Spanish. Spread the word!

Website: http://princesasespeciales.com

Contact: Princessability@gmail.com

Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/266879378/princessability

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Favorite Find of the Month

Hello Child Life-ers!

If you know me you know I’m a sucker for freebies, which is why this month’s favorite find are these adorable nursing coloring books by Johnson & Johnson!

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If you’re interested in these, you can find them at¬†http://www.discovernursing.com/resources/free-materials#no-filters ¬†(on the 2nd page). You’re able to order 25 at a time & have them shipped to your hospital. They make a great give away for any department & your nurses will LOVE them!

2015

IMG_5899January 6th marks my one year anniversary of having started my career as a Child Life Specialist. I thought I’d be cool¬†if I shared some things I learned during¬†my first year as a CCLS as well as some confessions!

  • Socrates could not have been more right when he said “To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge.” With this year coming to an end, I am shocked at how much I’ve learned this year¬†through¬†all of my experiences. I can’t help but wonder how I survived the first couple of months not knowing what I know today. When I finished my internship I thought I knew it all and was READY to take on the (child life) world! Turns out I didn’t (and don’t) know it all but I am constantly growing and learning.
  • My introduction of services changes as often as the hospital makes me change my passwords. Does this happen to anyone else?!
  • It’s so rare to meet a family that knows what Child Life is that when a mother says “Oh! we love child life!” I (on more than one occasion!) become so shocked I lose my train of thought and forget what to say.
  • It’s a lot harder to get (appropriate) donations than it seems.
  • As much as I tell patients to take a deep breath and let it go, I give¬†myself the same advice. Sometimes there are just some situations where¬†nothing I do/say helps, and that’s okay! Better to have tried and lost than to have never tried at all.
  • It’s hard at first, but it’s so¬†exhilarating¬†to have the weekend off and¬†not¬†check your work e-mail from home.
  • Not all days are filled with fun, exciting, and clever Child Life interventions, but the days that are… those are the best days.
  • Prioritizing is a skill and needs to be practiced. For example, the other day I was on the way to the bathroom when a 6 year old girl ran¬†out of her room screaming and crying because the doctor just told her she’s going to have blood drawn. As I was¬†walking up to her another doctor stopped to ask me¬†to assist with a nervous 8 year old laceration repair.¬†While trying to decide who to help first, my¬†phone rings with the radiology department asking for my¬†assistance with a 3 year old patient that is having a hard time coping with her CT scan. So, in these three situations that were happening at the moment, how do I prioritize? I’ll let you guess¬†which situation I took care of first, but I can tell you that I waited until all of this was over and everyone was happy until I went to the bathroom! 1 point for my super bladder!
  • Gaining holiday weight is not a thing for Child Life Specialists because you spend the month of December running, carrying, squatting, and pushing heavy stretchers/flatbeds ¬†through the hospital – and we couldn’t be more grateful!
  • I am so incredibly happy that I get to go to work every day and do my dream job.

Practice EKG

I recently had a pre-school patient be very anxious about getting an EKG. Simply explaining what an EKG is wasn’t enough for this concrete thinker, so we did some medical play! I brought in my teaching doll, Eliza, and we practiced putting foam shapes on Eliza’s chest. He got to place the stickers and remove them afterwards. We also made sure to tell Eliza the rule about laying still like a statue so the computer can make sure the stickers are on right & listen to his heart! Then, we put some stickers on ourselves & practiced laying still like a statue. Once I saw that he was more comfortable with the stickers and holding still, I showed him the silly stickers the nurse was going to use & assured him that they we just little sticky stickers like my foam shapes. During the EKG I stuck around and reminded the patient to lay still like a statue just like Eliza & told him what a great job he was doing. The EKG was a success & my little guy did great!

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Holiday craft kits.

I’ve been putting together some holiday themed craft kits for the kiddos in our ER. I was able to find these gingerbread foam stickers from oriental trading & made little bags with 10 in each & a white piece of paper. They’ve been a huge hit so far & were super easy/cheap to make.

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Favorite apps

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I just recently got approval to use an iPad as a tool for distraction and education with my patients. I am so grateful to finally be able to use this amazing tool! Here are some of my favorite apps that I’ve been using:

Medi toons is my go-to app when doing appy teachings for older kids and parents. it’s a free app that shows videos about different (mostly gastro) conditions.

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This app was recently reviewed by one of my favorite child life bloggers, child life mommy. It’s a [free] app that helps teach little ones to control their frustration by remembering to breathe, think, and then do!
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Wellapets is an awesome [free] app about asthma! This interactive game does a great job of promoting asthma education in a fun way.

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This is my go to app for MRI & CT scan teachings. Just last week I had a 9yo patient that¬†was going to have an MRI. He’d had them before but was¬†always been sedated for them. I showed him what the MRI machine sounded like with this app & thanks to that, he said he didn’t need any medicine to do his MRI this time. Thanks, Simply Sayin’!

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Disney Junior Appisodes is a forever favorite. This app features familiar beloved characters in an interactive & colorful display. This is ideal for lengthy procedures & really engages children in the appisode.

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Caillou’s check up app has been a very popular pick on my iPad. So popular I decided to splurge a bit ($4.99) and unlock all of the “levels” (you get the first level for free). With this app you’re able to help Caillou with his doctor’s office check up: taking his temperature, height, weight, etc.

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I downloaded this app just as a filler to have more choices for my toddler population and for some reason it’s also been a very popular choice amongst my patients. It’s a simple free little app in which you’re given tasks to complete such as ¬†puzzles, picking the largest fish, picking the smallest fish, etc. while calming, ocean-themed music plays in the background. I’m very impressed with this app and it’s popularity!

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And finally, Skylanders Lost Islands. This free app is VERY popular with wide age range of my male patients. It’s great for the younger ones because it plays a 4-5minute video upon starting which is very dramatic and engaging. For my older boys, it’s a fun and interactive game with familiar characters.

Worth it: 002

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Earlier this week we had a little 5-year-old, let’s call her Emily, visit the ER for constipation. After 2 unsuccessful enemas, the doctors and nurses decided it would be best to just have her drink a medicine that would help do the job of the enema. Little Emily would drink a sip, cry about how bad it tasted, and then spend the time¬†between sips¬†bargaining¬†with her mom for alternatives to avoid taking another sip. During this chaos, one of the ed techs called for me. I went in and introduced myself. Emily was shy and serious¬†upon meeting me, but as soon as I brought out my bubble wand she was all smiles! Leaping up to catch the bubbles, giggling, and smiling from ear to ear. Once all the bubbles popped, she looked at me to blow more – I told her that in order for me to blow more, she needed to take a sip.¬†Immediately¬†she grabbed the cup from mom’s hand, took a sip, and I blew¬†more bubbles. When the bubbles popped and the giggles stopped, she said she didn’t want anymore sips. I encouraged her to take another this and then I would blow a BIG BIG bubble. She smiled again and took another sip. I then blew a big big bubble. This went on for a few minutes while she drank the rest of her medicine. In the end, I congratulated her for being brave and drinking her medicine even though it didn’t taste good and since she was so brave, I gave her her own bubble wand to take home with her. The parent’s were relieved that their visit to the ER didn’t end with their little Emily crying all the way home.