March is Child Life Month. How can a Child Life Specialist (CLS) help you and your preemie moving forward after the NICU? Here are a few ways:
- Support during medical procedures: CLS work as a part of the health-care team to help a child’s stay in the hospital feel as positive as possible with use of puppets, music and books that show non-threatening images and medical equipment
- Sibling support: CLS are available to help siblings of various ages understand and cope with hospitalization of a family member through inclusion – inviting siblings to help in preparation for hospitalizations, siblings can help pack, make artwork and cards for patient’s room, provide toys and activities.
- Therapeutic medical and play: CLS utilize play and leisure activities to improve the physical, cognitive and social/emotional abilities of infants to young adults with the purpose to improve functional abilities and reduce the effects of illness or disability
- Support for grief and bereavement: CLS advocate for opportunities in memory making and legacy building to promote the healing process and advocate for siblings to be part of their family’s journey and supporting them in an emotionally supportive manner to instil positive coping and trusting relationships during life altering times.
- Emergency room interventions: Emergency visits to the hospital can be stressful and scary for the entire family. CLS are available to help patients feel more at ease with the hospital environment and can provide fun distractions during treatment and procedures.
- Education: CLS educate caregivers, administrators, and the general public about the needs of children under stress
- Event Planning: CLS coordinate special events, entertainment, and activities for patients and their families.