Mother and elementary-aged daughter giving eskimo kisses in the park.
Child Life Specialists

Play with Purpose

Play is an essential part of your child’s health and well-being. At AdventHealth for Children, child life specialists are available to help promote a positive stay for both you and your child. Our child life specialists work with the multidisciplinary team to reduce stress and create an environment that helps support your child’s emotional and physical health. Our highly skilled team leads and delivers exceptional psychosocial care, developmentally appropriate education, therapeutic play, and emotional support for children and adolescents. Our child life specialists are bachelor’s and/or master’s trained professionals certified by the Association of Child Life Professionals. Through play and emotionally supportive interventions, our child life team will help to create an exceptional experience for you and your child during your stay at AdventHealth for Children!

    Role of Child Life Specialists

    As part of your child’s healthcare team, your child life specialist will work closely with your doctors, nurses, and social workers to help promote a positive experience for you and your child during your stay at AdventHealth for Children. Our child life specialists provide interventions for hospitalized children and families based on each individual’s needs. They specialize in child development and are well versed to the reactions of children and adolescents in health care settings. They promote positive coping through play, self-expressive activities, age-appropriate medical preparation, and education. These activities help both children and families gain a greater understanding of medical procedures, which helps to reduce stress, and fear of the unknown.

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    Provide Emotional Support
    • Establish therapeutic relationships to build trust with you and your child
    • Help to promote positive coping and decrease anxiety for patients having medical procedures
    • Advocate for patient and family-centered care – you and your child are part of our healthcare team
    • Collaborate with your multidisciplinary team to help meet your child’s psychosocial and emotional needs
    • Support families facing grief and bereavement situations
    • Work with the emotional needs of siblings or other children who may be affected by a hospitalized child’s illness or trauma
    Provide Developmentally Appropriate Education
    • Encourage understanding and cooperation by using developmentally appropriate language, preparation, and support for children and families during their health care stay
    • Provide age and developmentally appropriate information on procedures, diagnosis and/or surgery to clarify misconceptions and increase your child’s coping
    • Encourage opportunities for children to engage in medical play before and/or after procedures to aid in expression of feelings and to increase a sense of control
    • Help siblings understand the admission and treatment of their brother or sister
    Therapeutic Interventions
    • Facilitate activities for play to help with your child’s adjustment to the hospital
    • Promote normalization by leading playroom activities, recreational activities, and special events
    • Provide therapeutic and bedside play activities
    Your Child is Unique

    Individualized Child and Family Support Services

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    Play

    Child life specialists use developmentally appropriate play to better meet the psychosocial and emotional needs of children. Through therapeutic play, child life specialists can help decrease pain, meet treatment goals, teach positive coping skills, and promote emotionally healthy experiences for your child. Healthcare encounters are often unfamiliar; incorporating play promotes and enhances control and normalization for patients and families. Play also encourages normal growth, development, socialization for children and most importantly, it’s fun!

    Medical Play

    Through hands-on play child life specialists use real and pretend medical equipment and supplies to help children become more comfortable and familiar with healthcare related experiences. Medical play provides the opportunity for children to work through their feelings and fears surrounding healthcare events. It also enables child life specialists to clarify any misconceptions children may have about their care, treatment, or medical procedures.

    Procedural Education

    Child life specialists can help decrease pain and anxiety for children and adolescents during medical procedures, tests, and surgeries by providing developmentally appropriate education and emotional support. Child life specialists model and teach positive coping strategies and techniques such as guided imagery, positions of comfort, distraction, and relaxation exercises to best meet your child’s individual needs.

    Picture Perfect

    Picture Perfect is a unique program offered at AdventHealth for Children. Picture Perfect sessions are available for patients scheduled for MRI, Voiding Cystourethrograms (VCUG), and Barium Enemas (BE). These one-on-one practice sessions are led by one of our child life specialists. The goal of our program is to help prepare patients and families for procedures and decrease any anxiety by sharing what can be expected through a hands-on learning experience. During our practice sessions a child life specialist explains the clinical procedure, so patients understand what they are going to feel, see, hear and experience in a non-threatening, playful approach.

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    Grief and Bereavement Education and Support

    Child life specialists provide sibling and family resources for grief, support patients through transitioning care, and facilitate legacy building activities. Child life specialists are also available to work with children in our “adult world” of AdventHealth Orlando.

    AdventHealth Orlando has two full time adult consult child life specialists who are available to work with the children of adult loved ones who are actively dying and/or acutely ill. Our adult consult child life specialists are skilled in working with children during emotionally stressful situations and helping them to discover emotionally healthy ways to cope. The adult consult child life specialists provide diagnosis education, therapeutic activities, and help to minimize emotional harm. For those children facing the death of a loved one, child life specialists advocate for opportunities in memory making and legacy building to promote the healing process. By giving children appropriate choices in visiting, advocating for them to be part of their family’s journey, and supporting them in an emotionally supportive manner, we are able to instill positive coping and promote trusting relationships between children and their families during life altering times.

    Yoga Progam

    AdventHealth for Children is one of the few children’s hospitals on the east coast that has an established yoga program. The yoga specialist designs, implements, and maintains the integrative therapeutic yoga program for pediatric patients, their families, and hospital employees utilizing an evidence-based approach. Each session is individualized, according to each patient and family’s needs. The yoga techniques of physical postures, distraction, progressive muscle relaxation, correct and calm breathing, relaxation, and active imaginary play are used to help patients and families cope with the stress of hospitalization. Therapeutic results from the yoga sessions include reduced stress and anxiety, improved mobility, elevated mood, and increased coping strategies to use both in and outside of the hospital.

    The yoga specialist maintains certification of education from both child and adult yoga programs accredited by Yoga Alliance.

    Special Events

    We strive to make the hospital stay for our patients and families as entertaining as possible. We want our patients to know that they can have fun no matter what circumstances they face. We do this by providing special activities and events daily throughout our children’s hospital.

    If you or your organization are interested in sponsoring an event or activity for our patients and families, please contact Nussi Afroz at Call407-303-9456.

    Some examples of events that we host at AdventHealth for Children include:

    • Magic shows
    • Character visits
    • Comedy shows
    • Ice Cream socials
    • Face-painting
    • Puppet shows
    • Seasonal parties
    Toy Donations

    As you can imagine, an extended stay at the hospital can be a very stressful experience, not only for a child, but for parents and family members as well. Items on our WISH LIST  will help the child life staff at AdventHealth for Children provide an environment of hope and healing for our pediatric patients. The gifts received help us to create positive experiences for pediatric patients of all ages and bring great joy and smiles to many faces. Items from our wish list truly help make generosity heal at AdventHealth for Children. For any questions regarding, donations, please call Nussi Afroz at Call407-303-9456

    Click Here to be taken to our Amazon Wish List.

    Items we are NOT able to accept include:

    • Used stuffed or cloth toys
    • Balloons
    • Yo-yos
    • Toy guns
    • Any toys smaller than a quarter
    • Knives or any other violent toys
    • Candy
    • Food
    • Drinks

    Please keep in mind…

    • Any toys that include paint or glue products should be non-toxic
    • Any Nintendo Wii, Xbox, or PlayStation 4 games should be rated “E for everyone”
    • Any monetary gifts will be used to purchase toys/supplies for patients at AdventHealth for Children
    • For infection control and safety purposes, we can only accept unwrapped new/unused gift items
    Child Life Specialist

    Interested in joining us?

    We are always interested in people who are committed to the health and well being of children. If you want a rewarding career with lots of challenges, great benefits and advancement potential, we’d like to hear from you. 

    If you would like to find out more about services available through our Child Life Program, call Call407-303-9456.

    Our Child Life Program currently offers internships in the spring and the fall and we follow the ACLP’s recommended deadline schedule for applications. We accept applications from affiliated students only.

    Mom and Child Under a Sprinkler
    A nurse speaks to a child in the hospital hallway.

    Child Life Practicum

    We offer child life practicum sessions in the Spring(2 students), Summer (1 student) and Fall (2 students) to students affiliated with a university. Application postmark deadlines are the same as the ACLP internship application deadlines. Click here for application and requirement information.

    Coloring with Grandma is the best.

    Child Life Volunteers

    Child life specialists also supervise volunteers that help to maintain hospital playrooms, provide bedside play opportunities, and facilitate special events to help normalize the environment and promote developmentally appropriate play in all areas of the hospital.

    Mom and Child Under a Sprinkler
    A male nurse lets his child patient listen to a stethoscope.

    Child Life 101

    Are you curious about a career in child life? Are you having trouble figuring out your next step in the process? Come join us for an interactive and informative session that will provide the most up to date information from the Association of Child Life Professionals, certification, internships, practicums, and hands on examples of interventions that child life specialists do each day. If you are interested, please open invite for dates and more information.

    Frequently Asked Questions

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    How do I talk to my child about going to the hospital?

    Be honest with your child. When explaining a trip to the hospital, be mindful of your child’s developmental age. It is often thought that children are too scared to hear about the hospital. Research suggests children are more likely to adjust and cope more effectively with their healthcare experiences if they are prepared in an honest and developmentally appropriate manner.  Being honest while brief with your explanations and asking questions like: “I wonder what you think the hospital will be like”, “did you know I get to sleep in your room with you at the hospital?”, versus the step by step of a surgery - is a much better approach for most children.  If you or your child have any questions and concerns, please reach out to our child life team at Call407-303-9456.

    What should I bring to the hospital for my child?

    We encourage parents to bring familiar items for their children. For younger children, these may include favorite toys, stuffed animals, pajamas, pacifiers, and other comfort items. For older children and adolescents, favorite items may include video games, their own pillow/comforter, movies, books, or music.