Friday Fun: The Future of Rain

I have to seriously wonder if this is a good idea. Where can I get one of these?

I have to seriously wonder if this is a good idea...

Choices and Sedation

Hi Friends! Happy Wednesday! I wanted to share with you an article I wrote for the Society for Pediatric Sedation. It focuses on how the medical team should be conscious about the choices they provide kids in the healthcare environment. This also applies to child life specialists or caregivers. Even I’ve accidently worded something as a choice when it really wasn’t. If you’re not aware of how your are talking to kids, you can make the mistake too.

Here’s the article I wrote in full, and if you want to learn more about the Society for Pediatric Sedation, click here!

Choices: Are you giving the right ones?

Sarah Davis, MS, CCLS

Child Life Specialist II, Practicum Coordinator

The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

When working with children and adolescents, it’s very important to be aware of the role that choice plays in providing patient care. Allowing a patient choices offers at least a little control in a situation where others are making all the decisions. A child who is given the opportunity to make choices is a participant in his or her care, boosts feelings of validation and respect, and can actually help increase compliance. But before you become concerned that allowing a three year-old to choose between sedation and no sedation is what I’m suggesting, I would like to put your fears to rest. Choices should always be both age-appropriate, and truly a choice.

The first rule when giving choices is don’t give a choice if there isn’t really a choice. One of the most common questions I see staff members ask is “Can I listen to you?”. In this example, it appears to the child that you are giving him or her a choice when you actually are not. You have probably had a two or three year-old tell you “no” when you asked to use your stethoscope. In that instance, there was probably some laughter and then you listened to the child with your stethoscope anyways. While this may seem like no big deal, when you don’t follow through with a choice, it begins to crack the trust that you have built with the patient. If there are enough instances of insincere choices being provided, the patient may display distrust, disputes with staff and/or family, and possibly become noncompliant. In order to create the best experience possible for patients, families, and staff, it is critical to recognize the significance of appropriate choices.

The Bard is for All

Me and my costar who played The Bard himself! You can see Romeo and Juliet in the background

I wanted to share a really cool project I recently participated in. It was a unique Shakespeare performance written for Morgan’s Wonderland, an inclusive amusement park. If you haven’t heard of Morgan’s Wonderland, it is amazing. I won’t go into detail because it deserves its own post, so stay tuned.

Back to today’s topic. The creative team at Morgan’s Wonderland has started a tradition of performing abridged versions of Shakespeare’s plays for the park and they cast people with a variety of abilities. This includes people who have been diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome, or other “disabilities”. But that does not stop them from giving some of the most heartfelt performances I have seen. I was given the opportunity to perform in their fall production titled “Scenes, Sonnets, and Soliloquies, Volume I”. I was one of the “normies” in the show and for starters I was impressed with their memorization skills. I realized very quickly that I had to work hard to keep up with them.

Myself playing Anne Hathaway reacting to one of Shakespeare’s puns.

Watching these young aspiring actors pull together a show really emphasized how much the theatre teaches people. Some of the performers had to work very hard to annunciate clearly and it translated to how they spoke off stage too. Other actors had to work on emotional expression and what they learned continued to assist them in their day to day life. After working with them I very much believe in the power of the performing arts.

If you would like to read more about the performance, check out this wonderful news article written by Deborah Martin.

Christmas Smells Like Cinnamon

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, I can’t believe how fast it came. For those of you who are looking for some last minute activity ideas, I’ve got a fun project: Cinnamon Playdough. It’s a fairly easy recipe and if you want you can harden it in the oven.

I really like this activity because it not only encourages tactics exploration but it smells so good! All you need is water, flour, salt and cinnamon. Got that on hand? Then let’s get started!

Cinnamon Dough

2 cups of flour

1 cup salt

5 teaspoons of cinnamon

3/4 to 1 cup warm water

Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Make an indentation in the center of the ingredients and pour the water into the indentation. Mix it all together with your hands until a ball is formed. Knead until smooth, about 5 minutes (this is a great opportunity to teach kids what “kneading” means!) It’s recommended that you allow the dough to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes before playing, but I’ve done it right away and not had issues. To harden your masterpiece, bake in the oven at 350 degrees until hard, but no longer than an hour.

For a fun Christmas-themed art project, cut the dough with cookie cutters and make a hole at the top before baking them. Now you’ve got some yummy smelling ornaments!

Elf in the PICU

So last week we started decorating for Christmas at the hospital and I discovered an Elf on the Shelf doll. For those who have never heard, the Elf on the Shelf is an Elf who comes to a child’s house to watch if the child is nice or naughty, and then reports back to Santa. There are lots of kids that love this because they usually find the elf caught in many humorous acts in the house each day. I enlisted the help of two very creative coworkers and we have started an Elf in the PICU tradition. Yesterday our elf showed up on the unit prepared for anything, which is important during cold and flu season!

I love this idea because it helps establish normalcy for kids and it adds an element of fun to an otherwise stressful unit. Plus it gives the staff a creative outlet to engage the kids. Have you ever done Elf on the Shelf at your hospital? I welcome your stories!