Child life specialists are the life preservers thrown to seriously ill children facing difficult, often bewildering hospital experiences.

By listening and observing, they work to identify children's fears and assess their emotional and developmental states, providing age-appropriate information to help tame each child's pain and worry.

"Children often don't totally understand why they're in the hospital, and what's going to happen," child life specialist Jerriann Wilson, M.Ed., CCLS, said. "Even though doctors and nurses cover (a procedure), they may do it briefly, once, and children often need to hear things several times."

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