Welcome to Child Inspired’s Blog!
Child InspiredTM has embarked on a journey to bridge the needs of children, families and healthcare professionals in order to reduce anxiety and improve the healthcare experience of children facing medical challenges.
Whatever role you may have with children at home or working in pediatric healthcare, there must be a child that has inspired you! Maybe you are a parent to a child with a developmental delay, a teacher working with children with autism, or a Child Life Specialist, Nurse or Therapist working with children with complex medical conditions.
These amazing children inspire us in countless ways…
♥ Inspiring us to find strength & bravery that we didn’t even know we possessed…
♥ Inspiring us to deepen our compassion, empathy, love, and understanding of their needs…
♥ Inspiring us to tirelessly search for the best possible care, innovation and therapeutic treatments available.
My name is Christina Connors, and as an Occupational Therapist that has worked in healthcare and educational settings over the last 15 years, and a mother of two amazing kiddos (one that experienced a life-threatening childhood hospitalization), I uniquely understand the needs of children, families and healthcare professionals.
My children, Samantha & Andrew are the center of my universe. The experience of Andrew’s sudden, life-threatening hospitalization changed our perspective in many ways. Our faith deepened, we began to take less for granted, and we began to work harder to advocate for children and families that need improved accessibility to pediatric healthcare in our region. I make it a daily practice to find moments throughout each day that inspire me. I find it in simple daily rituals, like a goodbye kiss from my children when we go our separate ways at the start of the school day, or snuggling while we read bedtime stories. I find it in inspirational quotes that keep a flame of positive energy alive within me. And I find it by witnessing the perseverance of many of the patients & families I am blessed to have the opportunity to work with.
But it hasn’t been an easy road.
My family has faced the intense stress of childhood illness that required advanced medical care, shock, separation anxiety (that resulted from a medevac flight that separated parent and child during crisis), post-traumatic stress, behavioral challenges, difficulty reintegrating into school & other childhood activities.
I hope to share glimpses of our story, and to hear of your experiences as well. Many parents and caregivers will benefit from reassurance that they are not alone in their journeys. And healthcare professionals stand in a unique position to advocate for children and families. Together we can spread increased awareness that the recoveries of children & families are complex, and often take much longer than the healing of physical symptoms.
We will also be including perspectives & experiences from guest bloggers, and information that relates to pediatric healthcare, parenting solutions, educational and therapeutic resources, Child & Family Centered Care advancements, and more.
So Buckle Up…The car has a full tank of fuel & fresh tires! Let’s begin to look a little deeper at one of many Roads to Recovery.
Here is a glimpse into my family’s personal story that highlights a time when we were searching for hope and healing after Andrew’s physical condition had improved.
It is my hope that glimpses such as these will stimulate communication & improved awareness among families and providers.
This part of our story occurred during a period of time after Andrew’s medical recovery had resolved, but when his (and our) emotional recovery was far from over. His behaviors were incredibly intense with periods of rage, violent outbursts, fleeing, etc.
I jotted an acronym on a tiny paper and began to carry it in my wallet. Every time I would open my wallet to pay for everyday essentials, I would look at that note as a tool to help me parent a child that needed much more than physical help. It remains in my wallet today & it reads:
C-Compassion, U-Understanding, T-Trust, L-Love
We traditionally think of “cuddling” with our children when they are tired, sick, injured or scared. “CUTL” became my mantra.
- I needed to show more Compassion. Compassion towards my son as he worked through strong emotions and often lashed out at me. Compassion towards my daughter for her “silent struggles” after experiencing the fear of almost losing a sibling. Compassion towards my husband when he struggled to accept “that it was ok to not be ok”. He wanted to put the experience behind us, and had difficulty accepting that an emotional recovery was still necessary for our healing. Compassion towards myself that I also needed rest, help, and time to heal. Compassion that it was unnecessary to put ridiculously high expectations on myself. That it was unrealistic to think I could simultaneously be my son’s mom and therapist, since I was still struggling with my own anxiety & post-traumatic stress symptoms.
- I needed to Understand I needed to educate myself and my family, and ask for help from my village. I even needed to embrace the idea of asking for help from my village, and feel proud that one day I would be able to pay it forward at their times of need. I needed to understand my son’s needs. I needed to understand my son’s behavioral outbursts instead of trying to just manage those behaviors. I needed to surround our family with supportive professionals that understood anxiety and post-trauma from a neuro-psychological perspective. We were blessed to be able to connect with an amazing therapist that specializes in Somatic Experience. A combination of Play Therapy sessions with his therapist trained in Somatic Experience, and Occupational Therapy sessions that used techniques from Zones of Self-Regulation, Social Thinking, and Alert Program, were critical resources to Andrew’s emotional recovery.
- I needed to try to re-establish Trust with Andrew. Through no fault of our own, a trust bond had been broken with our son. Because I was with him for every part of his hospitalization, he associated me & my husband (but primarily me) with his scary experience and with the people that he feared because they often had to deliver painful interventions. It would be months, even years, before he could understand that “those people” that he feared were actually heros. My medical background helped me be a great advocate for Andrew during his healthcare experience, but could it be that (from his perspective)… “Mom was on their side?” I had to help them hold him steady when they needed to start IV lines or administer treatments. And the medevac flight that separated us during a time of crisis was a breach of trust too. We were blindsided by the emotional ramifications of that separation. Could he trust me to come back when I had to leave the room, drop him off at school, etc? Fear and anxiety impacted our ability to re-establish trust, and we needed to resolve that fear and anxiety if we were going to be able to re-establish healthy, trusting relationships.
- LOVE…And the greatest of these is LOVE. There is not much to explain with this one. I just needed to remember that love conquers all, and in due time, we would find healing.
Child Inspired hopes to create a forum for constructive communication between children, families, educators & healthcare professionals, so that together we can work together to inspire improved outcomes and make a positive impact in the recoveries of children and families facing medical challenges.
Thank you for embarking on this journey with us! We look forward to the collaboration that will take place when we create & connect bridges between children, families, educators & healthcare professionals.
Please share Child Inspired’s blog with your friends and colleagues. Share a piece of your story. Leave a comment… How has a child in your life inspired you?