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A Resource Pack for those Working with Children Affected by Parental Illness (activity pack). Paediatric AIDS Resource Centre, 1997. (Obtainable from: PARC, 20 Sylvan Place, Edinburgh EH9 1UW; price £14.95.)
Those working with children affected by parental illness will welcome this activity pack. Its beauty lies in its format and the users ability to pick out relevant areas. It is practical, the lever arch file allows the users to dip in and out of the folder, and I am sure thatwill be useful as the pack is updated and/or expanded.
While it concentrates particularly on HIV and AIDS it allows for greater scope and could feasibly be adapted for use with children of parents with a wide range of serious illnesses.
Children have a greater understanding of parental illness and the effects on themselves than we may give them credit for. They may at times have difficulty in expressing their fears and anxieties or they may manifest in other ways. Young children are not always articulate about their concerns. Using this pack will help them, and those working with them, to look at the issues involved.
I enjoyed reading the pack, it gave me a good foundation for working with children affected in this particular way. The guidance notes at the beginning are helpful and I can see it would be important for the user to have a good understanding of the pack before using it.
I feel it helps to have a concise, no nonsense approach to this subject. This is an area which is often neglected in the literature, the focus tending to be on those who have the illness rather than those who may suffer due to someone close to them having it. It is also easy to assume that if you don’t tell children about illness they will be ignorant about it. Children are, however, very perceptive especially in situations where something is wrong.
I feel that the authors have achieved what they aim to do; the pack is bright, informative, and user friendly. I would like to see guidance notes for parents included and, for professionals, notes on how to deal with sensitive subjects which may be raised. The section on siblings could be expanded; while there are books dealing with this, the use of worksheets and the ability of parents to discuss this could be of great benefit.
Children can believe that it is their fault that a parent or sibling is ill, that it is because they have done something wrong. This pack will help identify areas where children may have anxieties. Workers will be able to address these areas and help children overcome their problems.
The benefit of this pack is that its use can be expanded over and above it’s original intention. The sections on viruses and illness can be used for teaching purposes and in helping younger children in coming to terms with their own illness.
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