Stories from Child Life

Let's Play Doctor

A 3 year old girl came into the ED for a fever and needed to get an IV. She was very anxious due to past negative experiences with needles. Prior to the procedure, the Child Life Specialist brought in an Elsa doll from the movie "Frozen", and real IV supplies. She prepared the patient for the IV, showing her the materials and demonstrating the procedure on the doll, engaging the child to "play doctor". Then, during the IV start, the CCLS paralleled the nurse's actions on the doll while they were being done to the patient. The little girl was fascinated by this, and stated that she was excited to be "just like Elsa". She remained cooperative and calm throughout the procedure, empowered and confident that if Elsa could do it, so could she!

Paw Patrol to the Rescue

A 4 year old boy came in as a trauma case into the ED after enduring a car accident with his father. Since the code was called, there were many people in the room with multiple hands on the patient at the same time. The father was flustered at bedside and the patient was quiet and visibly anxious. The Child Life Specialist entered the room and went to the head of the bed. After a few initial attempts to engage the child, the CCLS was able to find out that the he really liked the TV series "Paw Patrol". After finding the show on an iPad for him, the patient began to relax and started engaging with the CCLS; talking about each of the characters, their names, and his which ones were his favorite.

A Parents Calming Hold

There was a 13 month old infant who came in with a forehead laceration. Prior to the laceration repair, staff and parents were not confident that the patient was going to hold still or cope well. The Child Life Specialist talked with staff outside of the room, advocating to try positioning the child in a parent's lap without sedation or restraint. In the room, the CCLS talked with parents and prepared them for the procedure. During the laceration repair, the patient was cuddled in his mother's lap, was able to stay calm, and engaged in distraction throughout the entire procedure.

Bubbles, More than a Distraction

An anxious toddler, highly autistic and nonverbal, was brought into the ED for a laceration repair. He would have fits of screaming and hitting his mother. The Child Life Specialist collaborated with the mother and medical staff to do the procedure under nitrous oxide. The mother was tearful and worried. Blowing bubbles as distraction, the CCLS and medical team were able to start the child on nitrous oxide, and he began to relax. Soon after starting, he began to speak words such as "bubbles" and "mama". The patient's mother was stunned, as she had not heard her child speak full words before. It was a touching moment for everyone in the room, and the procedure was quickly completed as his mother sang to him and the CCLS engaged him with bubbles.

Knowledge to Empower

A 17 year old patient came to the ED with symptoms of diabetes, and the diagnosis was quickly confirmed. The Child Life Specialist came in to prepare him for his admission, and was able to discuss some of his initial feelings about his new diagnosis. The patient was an avid body builder and felt devastated, thinking that he had done something wrong with his diet, and worried this had caused his condition. The CCLS was able to have a conversation with the teen to reassure him that the diabetes was not his fault, and that he would still be able to participate in the activities that he loved. This knowledge helped him feel calmer, and empowered him going into the days of education he would receive on the inpatient unit.