Candace.Shetzler, MS, OTR/L-Occupational Therapist
Dear Christina and John,
It is great pleasure that I write this endorsement for the Child Inspired ‘Visual Get Well Maps.’ As an Occupational Therapist who works with a variety of clients regarding holistic wellness, sensory processing, self-regulation, social thinking, and many other areas within the psycho-social and social emotional realms of wellness, I have been able to utilize the Get Well Maps. Using visual supports is a cornerstone of my practice as a means of allowing the patient or client to access information in a different way. When we are stressed, anxious, upset, or even angry, we often experience shut down of some sensory systems and heightened awareness in other sensory systems. For example, you might become less able to “hear and process” verbal language but you may be able to intake visual information more easily.
I have used the Road Maps on just such a premise. I have altered the purpose to allow children as young as 4 and half years old to plan out a trip to the hospital to get bloodwork or a 6 year old to help understand and deal with a parent who has a chronic illness and has many trips in and out of the hospital. For example, I have used the Road Map and it’s Pit Stops as an analogy for how we take our cars to get gas, oil changes, or stop for pit stops in a race. This analogy has helped young children to understand the dynamic process of why we may go in and out for pit stops; it’s not a one- time thing.
The children often draw out their own version of the ‘Journey Home,’ ‘Princess Path,’ or ‘Road Map’ putting in personalized stops they may have to make in order to get to their end result (i.e. updated bloodwork in order to begin Kindergarten). The ability to use this product as a jumping point and then use personalized variations makes this product extremely versatile and user friendly for many populations, not just those in a hospital. Recovery takes many shapes and sizes and this visual technique allows a wide variety of therapists another tool in their tool box!
Child Life Specialist
The family I worked with really appreciated the visual depiction for their son and said it was not only very helpful, but that their son really enjoyed being involved with it. During the remainder of their admission he would reportedly instruct the doctors to move his car during rounds, and was very proud of the pictures with which we personalized his map. Mom also said he got a kick out of this and frequently asked ‘Mom, how did they get these pictures?’
The family took the map home and the patient keeps it in his room and tells a lot of people about it. She said he explains his road and how he “had to go to the pit stop” when he had his surgery. (So cute!) I encouraged them to bring his map back for subsequent admissions, and they said they’ve tried, but the patient corrects them and says “No mom, that was for my other boo-boo.” Depending on their length of stay during another upcoming surgery, mom is very interested in another one. She and dad were both appreciative of this and other ways Child Life assists kids with autism and special needs. We discussed how challenging the concept of time and “when you get better” can be for children, and particularly for children with special needs. The parents report that staff were very impressed with the map and participated well with it.
Chris, Father of Young Daughter with Congenital Heart Defect
When we first discovered that we were expecting our first child, my wife and I were beyond excited. As we journeyed through the normal routine of fixing up the nursery, stocking up on diapers and wipes, and getting ready for the new baby, we had no idea the struggle that awaited our baby girl. At our 20 week ultrasound, our daughter was diagnosed with a severe congenital heart defect known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.
Our heart warrior will turn 6 this year, and she has already undergone multiple, long-term stays in the hospital for three complicated open heart surgeries, several cardiac catheterizations, and other illnesses associated with her condition. While having a baby in the hospital is emotionally challenging for the parents, the emotional toll is exacerbated once the baby grows. Words cannot express how helpless you feel as a parent as you try to explain to your toddler or school-age child why they cannot go home. This feeling of helplessness is heightened when coupled with the fact the discharge decision is often tied to milestones rather than time. Such an abstract idea is nearly impossible for a young child to grasp, especially when dealing with all of the physical and emotional trauma that accompanies a long hospital stay.
During our most recent hospital stay for complications due to the flu, our family was presented with the Princess Get Well Map through the Child Life folks at our local children’s hospital. While we did not get the opportunity to truly utilize the map during this short stay, we immediately recognized its value and wished the maps were around during our daughter’s previous, longer stays. While we certainly do not look forward to any more extended hospital stays for our heart warrior, we know they are an inevitable fact of her life and are thankful the Get Well Maps will be there for our daughter. We are proud to be supporters of Child Inspired Healthcare Get Well Maps and pray these find their way to every Children’s Hospital in the country!
Heather-Mother of son with autism & a cardiac condition
I can’t say enough good things about how this resource worked for my son and I while he was hospitalized for cardiac surgery. My son has been coming to the same hospital for years, and has had many procedures and appointments, and this (Get Well Map) is really the only thing that has worked to help him distinguish a follow-up appointment from an admission. He will now ask, ‘Board or No Board’, and that helps him understand what type of visit we are making to the hospital. My son’s smile lights up his whole face, and that smile was visible in the photograph we attached to his map, and was visible when he showed his map to others.
He required use of the Pit Stop on 2 occasions, and on both occasions, he responded very well to that. I took it a step further and had a little prize bag of a few small monster trucks and a balloon waiting for him in his bedroom when he arrived back home. I wanted to keep with the theme we had been working with. He loved it and was so excited!
It became a conversation starter with my son and his medical team. His cardiologist was very interested in using it with him.