Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you have no voice? Maybe you’re out to dinner with a group of people and every time you try to start a sentence you get interrupted. Or, you’ve been sitting in a three-hour meeting at work and each suggestion you make is met with a few apathetic head nods and a change of subject. It’s a feeling that is frustrating beyond words. You literally just want to stand up and scream at everyone for being so rude.
But what if you couldn’t stand up? And what if your words were not only drowned out by inattentiveness but also by the relentless beeping of machines and shuffling of feet as they go in and out of your room. The room starts spinning. And you’re suddenly stuck in this revolving door, suctioned to the glass…watching strangers as you shout at them with your hands pressed forward in desperation…but they can’t hear you…and they are able to escape the spinning, but you’re not.
I would imagine this may be what it feels like to be a child in the hospital. Children ask a lot of questions. That’s because they’re trying to make sense out of the world they’re living in. Maybe we don’t always see it because we’re in a hurry and we don’t have time to stop and explain things like how its possible that a ladybug can be a male or a female. It’s our world and they’re just living in it, right? No.
That feeling of frustration you get when your boss isn’t listening to you or you vent to a friend about something on the phone and they seem like they’re in a different world isn’t only possible for adults to have. Children are not immune to this feeling.
If you then add in the typical stressors for anyone in a hospital setting, it can sometimes become impossible for a child to have their voice heard without some help. This is where child life specialists come in and the idea of advocacy. As one of my texts says, “Where people have their own voice, advocacy means making sure they are heard: where they have difficulty speaking, it means providing help: where they have no voice, it means speaking for them.”
This means, child life specialists and anyone who visits or works with a child in the hospital (or any other setting for that matter) can be the microphones or translators these children need so that their thoughts and concerns do not get drowned out by the constant thump-thump-thumping of the adult world.
And even if this doesn’t apply directly to you and you aren’t typically in these types of situations, apply this rule to your every day life. Be more conscious of how loud your song is blasting over the radio because there may be other people out there whose songs aren’t being heard because of your frequency. We’re all guilty of this from time to time. It’s hard not to become wrapped up in our own thoughts and goals. As long as we are conscious of the other beats in the world, there won’t be so many sad songs on the radio.
Check out this video a few classmates and I made to touch on the subject of advocacy for children in hospitals and how child life specialists can help: