The Child Who Is

Children tend always to be ''on guard.'' Ill children are especially vulnerable and wary. First, they are taken from their ''friendly'' home environment. Second, doctors, nurses, and students are constantly staring at them with a wide variety of facial expressions. Many older children believe that the physician has some sort of ''magical eye'' that can see through them and know everything about them. This all adds up to a frightening experience for youngsters. Frequently, tests that cause discomfort may have to be performed by those ''people in white.'' The healthcare provider becomes a symbol of danger and pain.

When the physicians, nurses, or technicians take the youngster for a test, the child experiences his or her greatest fear: separation from parents. This separation produces intense fear and anxiety, manifested by wailing, irritability, and aggressive behavior. The child's fear is that he or she will not see his or her parents again. This fear may actually be subconscious. Health-care providers should explain to the child, if old enough, that they know why the child is crying and should assure the child that he or she will see his or her parents soon. Parents should be urged to talk to their children, informing them that the doctor is going to help them. The parents should be careful not to indicate that the doctor will not hurt the child, because if the child has pain as a result of a test, the child-parent relationship may be jeopardized. The parent should be encouraged to stay with the child in the hospital as long as possible and even sleep in the child's room at night, if permitted. Studies have shown that when parents are permitted to stay with their children, the recovery is quicker and there is less emotional trauma. An important part of caring for children is talking to the parents. If the parents understand the situation, they can do much to help the doctor-child relationship.

Disabled children, like disabled adults, are extremely apprehensive of the atmosphere in the hospital. It reminds them of previous experiences. The interviewer must take time to play with the child while talking to the parent or the person accompanying the child. Complimenting the youngster with statements such as ''How pretty you are'' or ''What a nice outfit you're wearing'' seems to foster good will. These children crave love, affection, and attention. The parent has to be reassured that the staff members are reliable and caring. This will give the parent peace of mind. If a child wishes to keep a favorite toy or blanket, there should be no restrictions. Separation from home and family is a terrible experience for any child, but it is even more so for disabled children, who function better in familiar surroundings.

Hearing Aids Inside Out

Hearing Aids Inside Out

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