March is National Child life Month where medical communities around the country recognize all the hard work Child Life Specialists do for patients and families. 

Getting a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a life-changing event that affects the entire family. A diagnosis means learning so many new things and getting used to a new way of living. The Certified Child Life Specialists at Joslin Diabetes work to help children cope with their new reality and focus on the child as a whole--not just their diabetes.

After diagnosis, the child has to learn to adapt to what is happening in their bodies. They have to cope with finger sticks, frequent blood work, and medical devices attached to their bodies. The Pediatric, Adolescent and Young Adult Clinic at Joslin is fortunate to have a playroom where the Child Life Specialists can develop relationships and provide support for our patients through play. We work to make appointments less stressful through developmentally appropriate play and education. We break down some of the aspects of care into “kid language” so it’s understandable and not as overwhelming. 

Joslin’s Child Life Specialists work to make children feel empowered and help children recognize that T1D is just one part of their life and does not define who they are. They help young patients develop coping strategies around the more challenging aspects of T1D such as pump changes, going back to school after a diagnosis or blood draws. By understanding how diabetes works and how to care for themselves children soon realize they can still do all their favorite activities. Above all the Child Life Specialists work to make coming to Joslin Diabetes Center a positive experience and help children and their families understand that T1D is manageable with the right support system.