Thursday, 29 October 2015

Parenting children with health issues and special needs: essentials for raising happy, healthier kids

Condensed version. 2009.
By Foster W. Cline, M.D. and Lisa C. Greene

Just in case you have read too many parenting books and your interest factor has plummeted, this little book might spark your imagination and hand over some useful parenting tools.

What makes the difference here? Children with health issues or special needs are the focus and parenting tools described, go with what is already working in families. The authors talk about “consultant parents” and before you wonder if this is just an idea floating around, this approach comes from many years of hands-on experience and research.

The book encourages parents who find it challenging to know how to motivate their children to take medication or make positive health choices, such as when to fit in physical therapy. The “consultant parent” is not a “helicopter parent” or a “drill sergeant”. Read about ways to inspire children to make healthy choices and look after themselves. This approach focuses on family, building healthy relationships with “love” as the underpinning ingredient.

About the authors: Foster Cline is a well-known North American psychiatrist, physician, author and international speaker. Lisa Greene is a mother of two children with cystic fibrosis and a parent educator. She is raising her children with Love and logic parenting tools.

Families of children with cancer were given the book through the American Childhood Cancer Organization, Inland Northwest. This book is the condensed version of award-winning Parenting children with health issues, link to the web page for families. Resources, include video, audio and articles from the Blog. Topics span from parenting children of different ages, including teens, transition, school life, couples relationships and community. Special feature articles may capture an interest, Caring and compassion: the do’s and don’ts for giving and receiving support during hard times.
AWCH Library has a copy available for loan for people within Australia, please email your interest.

Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian (

October 2015

Thursday, 22 October 2015

H is for Healthcare preparation

“…positive healthcare experiences for children shape their long term good health and wellbeing.” (1)

Why prepare for healthcare?
“It took me lots of work to get over my fear of dentists!” Rachel exclaimed. As a child, dental surgeries were “no go zones” with metamorphosis taking place. She became a scratching, biting “wild child”. Now a mother of three, family dentist visits are routine.

Does this remind you of a childhood experience? Healthcare professionals (HCPs), know something small to an adult may be traumatic for a child.

AWCH helps parents
AWCH was amidst an emerging “groovy” movement of international organisations in the 1960’s -70’s supporting emotional care of children in hospital. Others were Action for Sick Children, EACH and Children in Hospital Ireland, yeah baby!

Terrified children aren’t peeled from parents/carers during healthcare today. This is not something to blink at, for a long time parents have been involved in their child’s hospital care (Please don’t leave me film, 1979). AWCH put this best practice in motion in Australia, now seen as the norm, so much so that most people can’t recall it any other way.

AWCH educated parents in the 1970’s about healthcare preparation with AWCH Barwon branch launching a poster (1979), Is your child to be hospitalised? How would you explain to him?

AWCH Child Health Library has great reads for children on healthcare familiarisation including picture books.

Australian parent resources have evolved in the last few years:
  • Child life therapists are healthcare professionals helping children and young people cope with medical procedures and hospital.  Keeping kids needs in the picture, by Renee Campbell (Child Life Therapist) is for parents supporting their children through medical imaging.
  • The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare, NPS Medicine Wise and AWCH partnered to create awareness for parents on medical imaging and kids. There’s now an App for parents and professionals.

Hospital familiarisation and healthy kids
AWCH WA runs Hospital Familiarisation Program (HFP). “Designed to prepare young healthy children for possible hospitalisation or visits to the doctor or dentist. The aim is to minimise anxiety, fear and misconceptions children may have about medical intervention.”

Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, Health education unit offers “Hospital Explorer Box: a play and learn resource kit for stage 1 students” (contact Schools Project Officer, Health Education Unit). Other community hospital incursions are available.

Thanks to the children who coloured in cut-outs
from Althea adding their colourful interpretation.

Preparing in an emergency?
One quarter of children in NSW visit an emergency department in a year. In an emergency parents may not pack a hospital bag especially not with their child’s help (children learn this way). Also stressed parents may not bring a toy, book, soft toy or comfort blanket. Going out usually involves taking a drink and snacks but in an emergency and chance of medical procedure, don’t give food or drink.  Parents can ask health professionals about medical procedures and become advocates for their child, taking a moment to ask questions if unsure. Parents are there to comfort kids.

If you liked this blog, you might also like The three little “P’s” - Playgroup and Peppa Pig which touches on one parent’s traumatic experience of hospital without preparation. We’d love to hear from you if you have related comments/experiences.

Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian
October 2015

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Jessica's box

Written and illustrated by Peter Carnavas.

New Frontier publishing. Cerebral Palsy Alliance edition, re-released 2013.

Paperback, ISBN 9781921928581

A book that takes you on a journey, ending with a child who smiles as she finds out about herself

This charming story book is all about Jessica and the friendships she hopes to make as she starts school and will spark the imagination of preschool and kindergarten children. Author and illustrator, Peter Carnavas, has captured some of the fearful feelings young children have when they begin in a new situation and as they find ways to adjust.

Jessica comes up with an idea, she takes a large brown box to school and over a few days we see what happens as children react to what is inside the box. Jessica thinks of different special things to put inside. At first it doesn’t turn out as Jessica would like leading to sadness and disappointment. Dejected Jessica plonks the box on her head only to find she has started a game of hide and seek with a new friend.

Written in a warm tone, Jessica’s family encourage her as she thinks of ideas and a cute little dog and bird accompany her. The supportive family are delighted when Jessica finds a new friend. Jessica is bright, creative and energetic and readers are taken to an imaginative childhood place.

Peter Carnavas' illustrations really compliment the story. The bright water colours followed by sepia blues and greys, show both the energy and expression of being a child and the disappointment and sadness that can follow when friendships don’t form.

Altogether this is a book that takes you on a journey, ending with a child who smiles as she finds out about herself, learning she is the best thing to come out of the brown box.
An award winning Australian book and this edition was commissioned for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. The text is identical to the earlier editions, however the illustrations here show Jessica in a wheel chair, and so this will be useful for primary schools and kindergartens focusing on social inclusion.  A media release for the book describes why it is a good fit for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance’s school disability awareness program Just Like You!

This mini edition is small enough for children to hold whilst in school reading groups and there is a larger special hardcopy.

Jessica’s box is available for loan from the AWCH Library. 

Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian
October 2015