Thursday, 26 March 2015

8 topics young people with epilepsy want you to know about


Young people and Epilepsy is a DVD produced in partnership with Epilepsy Foundation Victoria which presents an insight into what it is like for seven young people living with epilepsy. Topics covered include:

1.     diagnosis
2.     symptoms and seizure 
3.     medication
4.     who do you tell 
5.     challenges 
6.     getting support 
7.     looking ahead 
8.     words of wisdom



The discussions help create awareness about health information regarding Epilepsy including the different types of epilepsy. One of the goals of the DVD is to create community awareness and understanding to reduce the impact on individual lives.


By listening to the personal accounts of the young people, viewers find out what it is like for them. Symptoms, medications and challenges vary yet these young people all work towards self-control and management of epilepsy in their lives. Some of the challenges faced surround education particularly regarding absence from school and missed work as well as life at school amongst peers and teachers. For one young person a challenge was distance travelled and access to appointments and services as well as the impact of this on his family.  Dealing with tiredness, moodiness, as well a range of side effects from medications affect how the students feel. Social issues are talked about and gaining support from family, friends, health professionals, teachers and counsellors is essential.


At a time of rapid development and change, the young people provided insight into what is of importance to them and how they live with epilepsy. They provide positive insights into how they have faced and overcome challenges. Some of the young people have been living with epilepsy for a number of years and spoke about how it has changed their lives in many ways and not in others. Personal characteristics such as self-confidence and self-control have been developed. For example, several young people talked about getting enough sleep to meet the challenges of studying in high school. A few spoke of not drinking alcohol and the importance of looking after their health.


There is a section at the end for teachers. The benefits of the DVD as a tool for great learning opportunities in the classroom are highlighted. Ideas about how to use the DVD are outlined, including as a themed approach, for focus groups, raising health awareness and as awareness on chronic illness. The personal approach adds rich material and provides a unique opportunity to view chronic illness in a positive way.


The DVD can be used for professional development of various staff members at school and support information regarding a child at school with a chronic illness.Teachers will benefit from having reliable information at hand, providing support and follow-up for students as well as looking out for students who may be vulnerable.


The young people in this video have bravely talked about Epilepsy. They have told us what Epilepsy is, how they live with it, the negative impacts of living with epilepsy on their sense of who they are, as well as how they have overcome challenges. Community awareness does much to encourage children, young people and families on their journey with epilepsy.


Need more information?


If you would like to view more about epilepsy the AWCH library holds another DVD, Epilepsy in childhood which includes personal accounts from 5 families. Adults and two children talk about their experiences. This DVD covers the impact of epilepsy on both the child and their family. 


A comprehensive book, Growing up with epilepsy: a practical guide for parents, looks at many aspects of epilepsy addressing challenges found at different stages of a child’s life. Under basic tools, find out about understanding epilepsy, challenges of living with epilepsy, epilepsy at the “dinner table” and epilepsy goes to school. Although written in an American context the author, Lynn Bennett Blackburn, pediatric neuropsychologist at St Louis Children’s hospital, has much to offer parents at different stages of their child’s journey.


For more school, student and teacher savvy information, head to Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria’s Smart Schools program.

Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian
March 2015

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Calico Dolls - A process of play





by Maree Matthews and Gerry Silk 
Kiwanis International, 1994.


What are calico dolls and who makes them?

Calico dolls are simple in shape and made with plain fabric. The dolls are without features and they are plumply stuffed with polyester fibrefill, so they are lightweight. They are made in a range of skin tones. Children draw with textas or felt tip pens on plain calico giving personality and so each doll is unique. Since 1993 over 60,000 dolls have been made for children in hospital. Most of the dolls are made by volunteers and in the past Girl Guides have made calico dolls for AWCH in Sydney.

Where and how are they used?

Calico dolls are used to help children in healthcaresettings: in hospital emergency departments, radiology departments, routine healthcare admissions and when children are transported between healthcare settings. Calico dolls are also used in community settings by psychologists and child life therapists.

Health professionals such as child life therapists and nurses use the dolls with role play to help children, particularly younger children who are not abstract thinkers.  The dolls help prepare children for common medical procedures such as IV insertion, suturing, blood tests, insertion of naso-gastic tubes, changing dressings, manipulation and plastering of fractures under local anaesthetic and  X-rays

Calico dolls have been used to help transition children to hospital and medical procedures. The play is therapeutic because it gives children permission to express themselves. The role play helps children by providing them with emotional support when they are in unfamiliar healthcare places and having unfamiliar experiences.  

She coloured in the doll, giving it a happy face and a red line down its right leg which she explained as “the dolly’s sore leg”.

The dolls are also known as trauma dolls and can provide a positive way of coping, reducing stress and trauma. Children become empowered because through doll play they know more about what will happen to them and they can express themselves. Through parallel play they can tell family, friends and health professionals about what is happening to them and how they feel. How the doll is used is up to each child, their personality and developmental stage. Some children will focus on the doll as a means of gathering information and other children will use the doll as a tool for self-expression as well as understanding.

Calico dolls : a process of play is a great book for introducing health professionals and students to the value of calico dolls and their uses. Vignettes illustrate some of the uses, such as for diversion from pain, discomfort, anxiety and boredom. Other uses are for expression of feelings, as preparation for painful procedures, when working with siblings, for children who do not speak English, in bereavement care and for parent involvement. The book also explains how health professionals can make doll play a successful experience as well as how to talk to children in health care settings.

Calico dolls: a process of play is available for loan from the AWCH Library. The AWCH office also has a doll pattern for people who would like to make one.

Reviewed by:
Jillian Rattray
AWCH Librarian
February 2015