“Children process information from the world around them much differently than adults,” explains the Child Life Council. “They have distinct needs for managing the effects of stress and trauma.” Child life specialists are pediatric health care workers who help kids and their families manage to deal with chronic illness, hospitalization and more.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that child life services should be part of the quality care that medical professionals provide children and their families.
Each March, the Child Life Council honors and celebrates child life practices around the country during Child Life Month. The council’s mission is to support health care workers as they “empower children and families to master challenging events related to health care.”
Child Life in Action
When my son was two, we brought him to Texas Children’s Hospital for a round of allergy testing. He had had blood work done before, but this would be his first scratch test. What they do is wipe down your back, write numbered sections using a pen, and then use allergen-infused plastic tools to scrape sections of your skin to incite a reaction. The scrapes don’t hurt, but what happens next is any area that has an infection starts to flare up, itch and burn. You have to refrain from touching it for 15 minutes. Hard as an adult, almost impossible as a child.
The specialists at the hospital were there to 1. explain the process to me and my toddler son, and 2. help him make it through the procedure so that we could get an accurate diagnosis.
I couldn’t have done it without them. Having experienced, objective professionals there made the whole process much easier. I was able to hold and comfort my son while someone sat behind me playing an engaging game with him on an iPad.
These professionals work with children and families dealing with all types of medical conditions from food allergies to diabetes to epilepsy and more. Join us in thanking them for the work they do to help us through the tough times.
Sources: Child Life Council