Sunday, January 24, 2010

DIY Play Therapy

Acorn is apparently in one of those anxiety-prone phases that toddlers go through - just before Yule, he started having what appeared to be nightmares. Instead of our nightly ritual of jammies and a story and laying down (and being asleep within five minutes of us walking out), he started crying when we'd close the storybook.

However, add to the normal toddler anxiety and nightmares, our trip to Florida (with sleeping someplace new and our rather messy accidental decannulation), getting sick the very next week, and the fact that said ER visit resulted in an overnight in the PICU, and you've got the makings of an emotional mess.

And that'd be a mess even for a typical kid...Acorn has still been in the hospital more days of his life than out (though we're quickly approaching the tipping point there - assuming we avoid any more in-patient days, February 9 will be the day he's been out of the hospital as many days as in. He's already got a fear of anyone wearing blue gloves (and even my dad, who has his own share of emotional issues, remembered that while we were in Florida). He sobs when anyone tries to use an under-the-arm thermometer, or take his blood pressure. He's afraid of the pediatrician's waiting room right now because he's in every 28 days for synagis - and two shots of it each time, much less the 15-18 month vaccines and flu shots (all 4 of them) he had this fall.

Needless to say, we've got some serious anxiety going on right now, and since we know there is surgery in his future, it's only going to get worse.

So, what to do?

Well, some friends have suggested cranio-sacral therapy, and we'll probably look into that. But for the more immediate term, it's play therapy for Acorn.

Today we bought him a doctor's kit (Fisher Price brand) - it looks like this:

It's got all the things he is most afraid of - blood pressure, thermometer, syringe for shots, otoscope, and a stethescope. We're sure that all of the day-shift nurses will help us by playing with Acorn with these - checking the temp of various stuffed animals, the housekeeper, etc.

Beyond that, though, we are working on either modifying one of the stuffed animals here, or going to one of those stores where you create a stuffed animal, and adding a trach and a g-tube to the stuffed animal.

We're hopeful that this desensitization and the role playing it allows will help with the anxiety he feels.

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