Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Elmo Goes to TEDDY

We just had another great TEDDY visit! My son continues to amaze me and my husband with how well he does with his blood draws. While I hope for the best I do tend to prepare for the worst, or maybe not the worst but I prepare for some trouble. My son’s “lovey”, or security object, is a stuffed Elmo we bought on a vacation last year. Elmo has made several trips to TEDDY just to help out with the height and weight which has always been the most difficult part for my son. We must weigh and measure Elmo, then mommy, then sometimes the TEDDY staff then it’s my son’s turn. With children who have difficulty or fear during blood draws this type of play can often be the first step to success. Role play is a powerful tool to use with children to conqueror their fears.

A TEDDY staff nurse who has worked for TEDDY for over six years wrote the following about the use of role playing and blood draws.

We have a really wonderful child development specialist, Donna, who works with TEDDY in helping some of our children who are EXTREMELY scared of needles and blood draws. When Donna works with these kiddos, among other things, she uses role playing and modeling as a way to help our TEDDY children deal with their fears and concerns. We, as the clinic staff, have been using some of Donna’s role playing and modeling techniques ourselves at the TEDDY clinic visits. For those older toddlers and younger school-aged children who are anxious about having their blood drawn, role playing is a great way to get them to understand the blood draw process so they can prepare for it and feel a sense of control over how they react to it and a sense of accomplishment after it’s over.
We use a stuffed animal for the role playing and go through the blood draw process just like we do with the kids. We apply the tourniquet, we wipe the arm with an alcohol swab, we use a capped needle and syringe to draw some blood, and then put on a band-aid. Then we have the TEDDY child try that same process with the stuffed animal. During this role playing, we also have points in time where the stuffed animal cries or acts really scared. We ask the TEDDY child what he/she could say to the stuffed animal to make it feel better. When it comes time for the TEDDY child’s blood draw, as we’re going along we remind him/her about each of these same steps we did with the stuffed animal. Most of the time, this role playing technique works great – the TEDDY child responds really well to the blood draw (or much better than they had been)! We also give a tourniquet and capped needle and syringe to the TEDDY child to take home and practice with their own stuffed animals or family.
Blood draws are a part of life. We’ll always need them as a way to monitor our health. For children, having blood drawn every 3-6 months in TEDDY isn’t enough time to forget about what a blood draw is, nor does it happen so often that they get totally used to it and comfortable with it. Therefore, we can only empower our TEDDY children with ways of dealing with their anxiety and being proud of what they can do.

TEDDY Staff Nurse

Communication is so important, if your child is struggling with blood draws please discuss what options are available with your TEDDY clinician.