Abstract: Play is the universal language of childhood and the time and opportunity to play is every child’s right. The role of play as a vehicle for communication, a tool for distraction and its value in the holistic development of a normal child is without dispute. The role and value of play increase proportionately when a child is made more vulnerable through illness or disability. Despite this, providing time and opportunities to play can be overlooked or considered to be of little importance or relevance when the focus of the adult carers is the amelioration of clinical symptoms of the illness and on lessening the psychological impact the illness may have on the child. This paper outlines the role and the value of play as an integral component in the provision of palliative care for children with chronic, life-threatening and life-limiting conditions. It will show how providing appropriate equipment, sufficient time and relevant play opportunities not only improves the very sick child’s psychological wellbeing, but also allows the child to cast aside the confines and restrictions imposed upon them by their illness and for a few golden moments to be nothing more than a child at play.
Abstract: There is accumulating scientific evidence of the potential of play and playfulness to enhance human capacity to respond to adversity and cope with the stresses of everyday life. In play we build a repertoire of adaptive, flexible responses to unexpected events, in an environment separated from the real consequences of those events. Playfulness helps us maintain social and emotional equilibrium in times of rapid change and stress. Through play, we experience flow—A feeling of being taken to another place, out of time, where we have controlled of the world. This paper argues that spontaneous free play, controlled and directed by children and understood from the child’s perspective, contributes to children’s subjective experience of well-being, building a foundation for life-long social and emotional health. The paradoxical nature of young children’s spontaneous free play is explored. Adaptability, control, flexibility, resilience and balance result from the experience of uncertainty, unpredictability, novelty and non-productivity. These essential dimensions of young children’s spontaneous free play typically produce play which is experienced by adults as chaotic, nonsensical and disruptive. The article concludes with a preliminary discussion of the challenges and possibilities of providing for spontaneous free play indoors, in early childhood care and education programs.
Abstract: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder increasing in prevalence. Although there is limited evidence to support treating ADHD with mineral/vitamin supplements, research does exist showing that patients with ADHD may have reduced levels of vitamin D, zinc, ferritin, and magnesium. These nutrients have important roles in neurologic function, including involvement in neurotransmitter synthesis. The aim of this paper is to discuss the role of each of these nutrients in the brain, the possible altered levels of these nutrients in patients with ADHD, possible reasons for a differential level in children with ADHD, and safety and effect of supplementation. With this knowledge, clinicians may choose in certain patients at high risk of deficiency, to screen for possible deficiencies of magnesium, vitamin D, zinc, and iron by checking RBC-magnesium, 25-OH vitamin D, serum/plasma zinc, and ferritin. Although children with ADHD may be more likely to have lower levels of vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, and iron, it cannot be stated that these lower levels caused ADHD. However, supplementing areas of deficiency may be a safe and justified intervention.
Abstract: Risk is big business. It has assumed almost universal acceptance as an ever-present reality of life, something out there waiting to cause harm (most notably to political, economic and health systems). It commands vast resources to develop preventative measures that are the preserve of experts issuing often contradictory advice and warnings. Children’s play is caught up in this account. No longer something that children just do, it is subject to adult scrutiny that simultaneously and paradoxically attempts to manage risk and promote “risk-taking” for its perceived instrumental benefits, primarily the development of risk assessing skills. Adults thus guide children’s play, rendering children passive and needy recipients of expertise. This article takes a broader perspective to consider how this contemporary understanding of risk plays out in material discursive practices in relation to childhood, play, health and wellbeing. It then draws on conceptual tools of relationality, materiality and performativity to reconfigure playing as an emergent co-production of entangled bodies, affects, objects, space and histories in ways that make life better for the time of playing. Such moments produce health-affirming potential as an intra-dependent phenomenon rather than an individual achievement. Finally, it considers implications for “health promotion” and health enabling environments.
Abstract: The Long-Term Follow-Up Guidelines for survivors of childhood, adolescent, and young adult cancers are evidence- and consensus-based guidelines that have been developed and published by the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) Late Effects Committee, Nursing Discipline, and the Patient Advocacy Committee. Originally published in 2004, the guidelines are currently in version 3.0. While the COG guidelines have been praised as a model for providing risk-based survivorship care, adherence has not been uniform. Reasons for this gap include unawareness on the part of the survivor and/or care team as well as disagreement about the individual recommendations. In some cases, the burden of testing (such as annual echocardiography or repeat pulmonary function testing) may be too great. A small number of intervention studies have documented improved adherence to guideline recommendations with dissemination of informational material. Future studies should focus on individualizing screening recommendations, as well as identifying unnecessary testing.
Abstract: Knowledge of vitamin D in the health of children has grown greatly over the years, extending past the importance for calcium homeostasis and bone growth. There is growing recognition of the role vitamin D plays in health impacting the innate immune system to prevent infections and the adaptive immune system to modulate autoimmunity. Other studies are starting to reveal the neurohormonal effects of vitamin D on brain development and behavior, with a link to mental health disorders. Many of these effects start well before the birth of the child, so it is important that each pregnant woman be assessed for vitamin D deficiency and supplemented for the best possible health outcome of the child. It is recommended that targeting a 25(OH)D level of 40–70 ng/mL for each individual would provide optimal health benefits and reduce health care costs. Current recommended doses of vitamin D supplementation fall short of what is needed to obtain ideal serum levels. A vitamin D supplementation program to prevent disease, much like the current vaccination program, could potentially have a dramatic impact on overall health worldwide.