To Sleep or Not To Sleep?

Happy Wednesday!!! I have to admit, I have a love-hate relationship with the idea of Wednesday being “hump” day. On the one hand, I’m super excited that I’ve made it half-way through a week, on the other hand, I sometimes get tired thinking that I still have a few  more days to go before the weekend… and the chance to sleep in!


Ready for bed after driving in for a presentation!

Sleeping is definitely something that we all like doing, but here in the hospital, sleep is often seen as something a little scary, especially if we’re talking about taking a medicine to fall asleep. At the same time, there are some people who would rather be asleep for a procedure because the idea of being awake is scary. On top of all that, the medical staff need patients to be compliant during a procedure and a sleeping patient is sometimes more compliant than an awake patient, if you know what I mean. But at the same time medically-induced sleep definitely comes with many risk factors and presents challenges that can be averted if no medication is used.

I could go on and on, but the reality is that many different factors are at work when deciding if a patient needs sedation for a procedure. In my job at the children’s hospital I will often get called to assess if a patient can hold still without medication or if then need something to help them sleep during a procedure. Recently I wrote an article on how I make that assessment for the Society for Pediatric Sedation. For those of you who are more interested in learning more about child life, I highly recommend you check out this article: Child Life 101 – Assessment. It gives a great snapshot of one role that a child life specialist has on an interdisciplinary team.

Here is the link if you want to copy and paste it in your browser!


The Importance of Visions

A few weeks ago I was privileged to present at the National Juvenile Arthritis Conference. I spoke with kids in 5th and 6th grade as well as the 11th and 12th graders. I’ve worked with campers at the Texas arthritis summer camp for 2 years now and had so much fun that they asked me to come do some education at the conference. Since the two groups were very different in age and needs, I did two different presentations. Today I wanted to share what I did with the 5th and 6th graders.


Having a little fun with Snapchat before the conference!

Since the kids in this age group are either transitioning or getting ready to transition into middle school, I decided that it would be great to start talking with them about goals. Kids at this age are very interested in advancing their skill sets, recognizing that they can achieve goals. They are beginning to think about what they would like to do with their life, going deeper into what they want to be when they grow up. At the same time, becoming an adult still seems far away and there are many things that can happen between middle school and entering the workforce that shape the career one chooses.

But that does not mean it is useless to start thinking about dreams and aspirations for adulthood. On the contrary, it is important for youths to consider what they are passionate about and start to see the different pathways to their goals. By forming their dreams into physical cohesion, they begin their journey of turning dreams into reality. One way of doing this is by creating a vision board.

A vision board is a way of putting pictures and/or words together to create a visual representation of a dream or goal. It’s a great way to start your creative juices going while also having a source of inspiration you can use as you work towards that goal or dream. I led the youths in making their own vision boards and it was really cool to see the variety. Some thought about jobs while others thought about sports and recreation. And then there were the kids who wanted their recreation to be their job. I was also very impressed in how specific they got. Some of them actually noted what they wanted to do in a certain field, like becoming an archeologist in a certain country or specializing as a horse veterinarian.

Before you rush out to start your vision board though, I want to share some steps. Since it can be hard to ask someone to pick a specific goal out of thin air for a project, I gave the participants some parameters. I first had them talk about what they wanted to achieve in high school, which is a much closer goal for them than their adult career. I had them list a few ideas, then asked them to list what that would look like for them 3 years from now. There were no wrong answers, the point was to just some ideas flowing. After I let them jot things down, I then talked with them about the vision board and the goal of the project. Finally, I gave them some art supplies including magazines and encouraged them to get creative with their vision boards. And they did an awesome job!

I thought I would share the board I created to use as a demonstration for the youths. My focus or “goal” was oriented to performing more since I love to sing and dance. Let me know if you’ve tried making a vision board and how did it go in the comments below!


Vision Board for Performing

My Vision Board!


Coping with Harvey, Irma, And Other Storms

Houston is working diligently to put the city back together after Harvey while Irma has her turn to take on the human race. It’s very easy to focus on the simple things: getting food, water, and shelter to those who need to, and don’t get me wrong, these are very important goals. But it’s also important to consider the long-term effects that natural disasters have on people, both those who lived through them and those who watched from a distance.

Reflecting on Harvey’s path of devastation, I realized I was lucky. There were many forecasts that Harvey would hit the city I live in very hard. There was lots of work around the hospital as everyone got ready for the worst case scenario. Thank goodness the results differed from the predictions, though we did definitely see an increase in patients coming from the coast. I actually felt a little bad that my friends who live else where kept asking if I was okay and I had to explain that other than a brief power outage, I didn’t have anything to report.

But it reminded me of my elementary school guidance class where the teacher went over every type of natural disaster, leaving me slightly traumatized. My mom spent quite a long time convincing me the likelihood of all those natural disasters happening to our land-locked state was pretty slim. (I will admit that I spent a year checking to make sure the stove was off at night after the guidance teacher did the unit on house fires.) It just goes to show that kids can definitely be effected by natural disasters, regardless if they lived through one or not.

So how do you help a child process and cope with natural disasters? It’s obviously a conversation that must be had because everyone will at one point or another be effected by a natural disaster. And adults often find it difficult to start a conversation on such a heavy subject. Thankfully books can be a wonderful place to start. There are many resources out there (I always recommend checking your local library!) but I wanted to share one free resource from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Trinka and Sam: The Rainy Windy Day.

The story follows two children and how they handle a hurricane. I really like how it shows two different ways children can express themselves after experiencing a traumatic event. Not only that, but it shows appropriate ways that caregivers can respond to children who are processing the traumatic event. And bonus points: you can print it out and color it!

I hope you find this resource helpful! Please share it to anyone you think might find it helpful. And to all those who have been effected by the hurricanes, stay safe!!!

Friday Fun: All Are Welcome To Agrabah!

Have you heard of “autism friendly” performances on Broadway? Individuals who are on the autism spectrum can be easily overwhelmed by loud noises, flashing lights, and lots of people. Unfortunately, Broadway musicals are often heavily laden with these and other effects. This means that it can be difficult for someone who has autism to participate in the fun. So in the spirit of including everyone, many theaters have offered “autism friendly” performances so those who may become stressed from the noise, lights, and crowds can still enjoy a musical.

I think this is so awesome because many people don’t realize how much of an impact a diagnosis can make on things other people take for granted. A boy who becomes overwhelmed with large crowds doesn’t get to enjoy a live performance of his favorite story. A girl with seizures isn’t able to watch a concert of her favorite band because of the strobe lights. We have subtitles for people with hearing impairments or descriptive audio for people with visual impairments. It is very easy to also have a set performance that includes less noise, flashing lights, and a place to get away from the crowd if needed.

The most recent Disney musical Aladdin has joined in on the fun and the West End production in London will offer it’s first autism friendly performance this summer. Disney on Broadway recently posted a video discussing the changes to the show so everyone can enjoy the spectacle of the stage. Check it out!

Staving Off Compassion Fatigue

If you are working in any helping profession you know that it is very important to guard against compassion fatigue. Those who are in the child life field know that it’s incredibly important. The reality is that the job of a child life specialist can be very emotionally difficult. You are often asked to come into a situation that is emotionally charged (for whatever reason) and figure out a way to defuse the ticking time bomb, contain and disperse the already exploding bomb, or put the pieces back together of the bomb aftermath. I have to keep in mind that the burn-out rate in child life is high and find ways to prevent compassion fatigue. Sometimes this can be hard when life today is about going non-stop. I wanted to share this article I read about how to maintain your supplies of compassion. You can read it by clicking here or pasting the URL in your address bar!

Thank you for Easter Baskets, Chocolate, and Everyone!!!

Happy Easter everyone!!! I hope that you all have had some wonderful sweet or even savory treat, surrounded by people who love you. I personally enjoyed some chocolate and sweet potatoes while hanging out with my roommate and her family, along with my sister, since my own family is far away. (I had other food of course, but the chocolate and sweet potatoes were my favorite!)

I know that I haven’t posted an activity lately, but things have been super busy with work. I do have an activity today, though I can’t claim to have made it myself. Even so, I thought it would be nice to share it with you! My mother decided that she would sew Easter baskets for me and my sister during her spring break to de-stress. They were so cute and it reminded me that sewing is a great therapeutic activity for some people. I personally made a pillow a few years ago as a way to de-stress during grad school. And sewing can be part of legacy building as well. (Just like the pillow reminds me I made it through grad school!)


Isn’t it so cute!!!! Thanks mom!!!

Since this is Easter I know many people are off. But we often forget that there are many more people that have to work on Easter. Of course, there are patients in the hospitals and someone must take care of them. But then there are many establishments that are open on holidays to make life easier for those people who are off, like restaurants and stores. I was walking this morning around our neighborhood and it was interesting to see who was open and who was closed. I think it’s important to thank those people who gave up their holiday to provide service to others. And thank the establishments that decided to be closed and allow all employees the day off. So I want to publicly thank the places I passed today.

Honey Baked Ham
Zoe’s Kitchen
Pet Works
Lash Studio
Palm Beach Tan
Stein Mart
Massage Heights
Waxing the City
The Crescent
Thank you for allowing your employees the day off!!!

DaVi Nails
Torchie Tacos
H&R Block
Thank you to the employees who gave up their Easter to work!!!

Friday Fun: A Dancing Wish

Hi there! I wanted to share with you all a wonderful uplifting video I saw about a little girl who dreamed of being a ballerina. Since I myself love to dance ballet and know it’s magical draw, I totally understand where she is coming from. But until this group came in, she had never gotten the chance to perform onstage. I hope this video brightens up your Friday!