What is the Child Life Program?
Certified child Life specialists help children and families cope with illness and hospitalization. As experts in child development, child life specialists help meet the social, emotional, and developmental needs of children in stressful situations to help them understand and handle their medical experiences.
Why are child life services helpful?
Play is how children learn and develop and allows for expression in a safe environment. Child life specialists are trained professionals who use play as a tool to help children cope with their diagnosis and treatment. When children are able to cope better, they can feel a sense of accomplishment, have an easier time handling treatment, and experience less distress before, during, and after medical experiences.
How we can help
Child life specialists at both Roswell Park and Oishei Children’s can help your child at many steps in their treatment journey. This can include:
- Learning about the diagnosis. We will help your child, their siblings and other young family members understand what is happening to their body at a developmentally appropriate level. As a child grows older, we help them understand more about their diagnosis and how it may affect them in this stage of life.
- Medical play. We use books, toys, art, role playing and pretend or real medical equipment to give young patients a level of comfort with medical equipment, supplies and experiences. This helps your child to express emotions and misconceptions through play and gives them a sense of control.
- Therapeutic and normalization play. We help children cope by building a safe and fun environment that promotes their development.
- Preparation and support for treatment. We help children understand what they will experience during medical procedures and treatments and will work with your child and family to create a coping plan.
- Change and loss. We help children and family members cope with loss through appropriate explanations, therapeutic activities, and resources.
- Bereavement support. During end-of-life care, we provide memory making and legacy building opportunities including fingerprint art and heartbeat bears.
When to contact a Child Life Specialist?
- After receiving a new diagnosis
- Your child expresses fear or confusion
- Difficulties with taking medication
- Overall difficulty coping
- Coping with end-of-life situations
- Discussing diagnosis and treatment with child’s siblings
- Your child has special needs
- Preparation for a procedure or medical test
- Anxiety expressed about medical procedures