Category Archives: kids

Hospital art therapy program helps children express themselves

Nathan Allen loves the colour blue.

His T-shirt is blue, the blanket wrapped around his knees is blue, and his eyes, bright under his baseball cap, are blue.

But blue is also a feeling, and after spending months undergoing near-daily dialysis at the Hospital for Sick Children, who could blame an 11-year-old for feeling a bit down?hands-029.jpg

Nathan was referred to the hospital’s new on-staff art therapist to help him cope with his emotions. And when Jennifer Bassin came to visit recently week with her case of supplies, he chose the colour blue to start on a sculpture of a car.

“Shocking,” jokes his mom, Judy Chapman.

Nathan was diagnosed with a bilateral Wilms’ tumour, a rare cancer of the kidneys mostly affecting children, at age 5. He started chemo and radiation and had a partial nephrectomy in both kidneys. His left kidney never worked properly again, and after almost five years of remission, cancer returned to his right kidney.

Now he undergoes chemo once every three weeks and dialysis five days a week. That’s a lot of poking and prodding for an 11-year-old who would prefer to be playing defence on the Georgina Blaze novice hockey team and cuddling his 3-year-old beagle, Daisy, at home in Keswick, Ont.

After three more chemo treatments, Nathan can go home. His parents are training to do at-home dialysis and counting down the days until Nathan can receive a new kidney. His mom is praying she can eventually donate one of her own.

Until then, he looks forward to his weekly sessions with Bassin. She visits during the two-and-a-half-hour dialysis process, and they paint or sculpt while the machine whirs in the background.

“It absorbs some of the time,” Nathan says. “I like to build stuff.”

Bassin has brought something called a 3Doodler — a cross between a hot glue gun and a tiny 3D printer, which can make plastic sculptures. This day, after he makes the car, she asks Nathan to make something that resembles his idea of cancer.

“A big, black, blob,” he says.

Nathan is an outpatient but most of Bassin’s patients are long-term in-patients at Sick Kids who have chronic illnesses, complex medical histories or have faced traumatic injuries.

Since the program started in May, she does art therapy just two days a week and sees between four and eight children aged 4 to 18. Psychiatric patients have benefited from art therapy at Sick Kids in the past, but this is the first year the new program, which is entirely funded by donations, has been extended to medical patients.

“Art therapy is taking the language children already speak and meeting them at that level,” Bassin said. “You don’t have to be good at art to participate in art therapy. It doesn’t have to be about the painting or about the drawing. It’s more about finding something they enjoy that we can use as a tool to explore how they’re feeling.”

One patient, who had recently been in a traumatic boat accident, sculpted a vessel out of clay — and then smashed it against the wall in a moment of catharsis. Some enjoy the physicality of painting big murals, and some like to rip up what they’ve drawn. Another drew a landscape so she could imagine herself outside the hospital, at a picnic.133741-133461

“When you create something outside of you, you can really treat it like it’s at a distance, and it makes it safer for us to explore a little bit.”

Making art helps young patients take back some control in their lives, if only for an hour. Some patients are content with their creation, and others want to delve deeper into their feelings, Bassin says.

Nathan’s family hopes he can go home in late September, when he can rejoin his classmates in Grade 6 and go back to being an annoying older brother to his sister Emma, 7. He’s still quiet, but less withdrawn after a session, his mom says.

As he paints a mask green, with blue lips and black eyes, Bassin asks Nathan if he has a plan.

“Nope,” he says. “Just going step by step.”

The Hospital for Sick Children

3 Dietary Interventions that Can Help Children with ADHD

Are dietary inter­ven­tions effec­tive for treat­ing ADHD? For many par­ents and pro­fes­sion­als, try­ing to parse through the dif­fer­ent claims about the impact of diet on ADHD has been chal­leng­ing and confusing. At this point, sub­stan­tial research on how dietary inter­ven­tions impact ADHD has accu­mu­lated and sev­eral meta-analyses of this work have been pub­lished. Recently, a review of sev­eral meta-analyses of dietary inter­ven­tions for ADHD was pub­lished [Research review: The role of diet in the treat­ment of attention-deficit/hyper­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der — an appraisal of the evi­dence on effi­cacy and rec­om­men­da­tions on the design of future stud­ies]. In this paper, the authors sum­ma­rize find­ings across 6 dif­fer­ent meta-analyses of the impact of diet on ADHD to pro­vide a high level sum­mary of the best avail­able evi­dence to date.

Types of dietary interventions

Three types of dietary interventions were reviewed — Restricted Elimination Diets (RED), Artificial food coloring exclusion (AFCE), and supplementation with free fatty acids (SFFA). Although other types of supplements beyond free fatty acids have been investigated, the authors felt there was not sufficient research on any sin­gle approach to include in their summary.

1. Restricted elimination diets (RED) — There are 2 different approaches to implementing this diet. In one approach, the child is placed on an extremely restricted diet, e.g., rice, turkey, a range of veg­eta­bles (let­tuce, car­rots, cau­li­flower, cab­bage, beets), pears and water; this is some­times referred to as the Few Food Diet. When a reduc­tion in ADHD behav­iors results — this would gen­er­ally occur within 2–3 weeks if the diet is going to have a pos­i­tive effect — new foods can be added back one at a time to see if they are well-tolerated or lead to an increase in prob­lem behav­iors. Alter­na­tively, par­tic­u­lar foods that are sus­pected to exac­er­bate a child’s symp­toms may be removed one at a time to see if the child’s behav­ior improves.

2. Arti­fi­cial food col­or­ing exclu­sion (AFCE)- As the title indi­cates, this involves efforts to remove all arti­fi­cial food col­or­ings from a child’s diet, e.g.,Yellow #6, Yel­low #5, Sodium Ben­zoate, Blue #2, etc., and observ­ing whether this is asso­ci­ated with a reduc­tion in ADHD behav­iors. Care­fully con­ducted tri­als have demon­strated that AFC’s – in amounts chil­dren could typ­i­cally con­sume – can increase ADHD symp­toms in many children.

3. Essen­tial fatty acid sup­ple­men­ta­tion — Cer­tain fatty acids, e.g., Omega 3 and Omega 6, pro­mote neural func­tion­ing. These fatty acids are called essen­tial because they are not syn­the­sized in the body and must be ingested. Chil­dren with ADHD may have lower lev­els of essen­tial fatty acids rel­a­tive to peers and sev­eral stud­ies have demon­strated a link between low lev­els of EFAs and the sever­ity of ADHD symp­toms. Stud­ies inves­ti­gat­ing the ben­e­fits of fatty acid sup­ple­men­ta­tion for youth with ADHD raise fatty acid lev­els by admin­is­ter­ing cap­sules con­tain­ing the fatty acids or sometimes by introducing diets rich in fish products.

See more at: http://www.creativitypost.com/science/3_dietary_interventions_that_can_help_children_with_adhd_especially_when_pr