Explaining Brain Death and Organ Donation to Children

As a child life specialist, I am always learning new things and developing creative and appropriate ways to educate about procedures, diagnoses, medical equipment, medical terminology- the list goes on and on. I know what it means to jump from patient to patient and to learn as I teach, and I’ve developed an ability to appropriately adapt my intervention to best meet the needs at hand. That being said, I will never forget the day I was first asked to explain brain death and organ donation to school-aged children.

Syringe Play

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that kids light up from new and unexpected kinds of play. It doesn’t have to be complex. Some of the easiest and most fun play ideas that have come to me without referencing good ‘ole Pinterest have been from just looking around and recycling empty containers, using loose kitchen and game parts, and following the lead of kids. I take a character or type of play

Fingerprint Impression Pendant Keepsake Leaves an Imprint on your Heart

Quite possibly the greatest gift I have received since starting doseofplay.com is a pendant necklace with Olivia and Robby's fingerprint impression. It's a one-of-a-kind, small treasure that symbolizes the larger than life power their love has on my heart. It seems quite fitting that this meaningful piece of art comes in the form of an impression from the tip of their finger. Our love, after all, is wrapped around their little finger, right?

Preparing young children for the dentist using play

Let's not kid ourselves, most adults aren't thrilled to go to the dentist. I have to admit, I used to be one of them. In a surprising grown up twist, I will take my floss scolding for a little dose of quiet time to myself. I love my kids, but any stay at home caregiver of littles knows how golden 30 minutes of time is for uninterrupted thoughts. But enough about me, I'm here to share how proud I am of my three year old for her bravery during her last visit to the dentist.

Memory Scarves: Find Comfort Wrapped in their Love

When I think Back to my childhood, a flood of special memories come to mind that involve Alicia Miklavicic-Franz and her mom, Janie Esposito. Alicia was new to my school in 4th grade, moving to West Allis (West-Milwaukee) from a much smaller town called Adams Friendship in Wisconsin. We became instant friends. I traveled with Janie, Alicia, and younger brother Michael to craft shows, helping set up the booth and selling Janie’s children’s clothes. I can remember being with them after a day of selling, sitting in a restaurant and watching Janie’s shock of hearing the news of Princess Diana’s tragic death.

Inspiring Child Life Specialists Across the Nation

If you are unfamiliar, child life specialists serve to help children and families cope with challenges that surround injury, illness, and death. We provide developmentally appropriate preparation, medical education, distraction, play and coping strategies to reduce anxiety, perceived pain and non-compliance with medical treatment for children facing these medical related experiences. Together, with each family and members of the medical team, we strive to make circumstances less scary and confusing. Our understanding of child development and social dynamics lends a hand to helping children cope with related challenging experiences, such as early childhood caregiver separation anxiety or building self-esteem with youth and teens.

Guest Post: How Child Life Services Helped our NICU Experience

Guest Blog Post by Emily Jasinowski, mother of Mason and Arlo and Little Birch Blogger 

It’s an understatement to say that our son’s NICU journey was difficult on our family. Our worried hearts were wrapped around his health and well being, new diagnoses that dropped out of nowhere, and making decisions about how to be absent from work. We tried to find creative ways to bond with our newborn that didn’t have the ability to breastfeed and had never been home with us.