VISTAS School Counseling

VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.

Who's on First?: Professional Collaboration and Children With Chronic Illness

Helen S. Hamlet and Margaret A. Herrick


Consider the children you encounter on a daily basis – at school, in your neighborhood, at the shopping mall, in the park, at the grocery store. One in five of these children suffer from a chronic illness (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008).  But the term chronic illness alone does not describe the myriad of life-limiting health conditions suffered by approximately 20% of our nation’s children. Consider the
debilitating effects of a respiratory illness such as asthma, a condition that affects approximately 9% of children between the ages of 0 and 17 (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2010). Add to that the numbers of children with cerebral palsy, diabetes, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, heart conditions, Addison’s disease, cancer, kidney disease, and sickle cell anemia (Perrin, Bloom, & Gortmaker, 2007; Van Cleave, Gortmaker, & Perrin, 2010). Look again. How many of the children that you see are overweight? As childhood obesity rises to the level of a public health threat, the numbers of children dealing with chronic conditions can only increase (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2010).

When a child is diagnosed with a chronic illness, the familiar surroundings of
family, school, and community are replaced by an unfamiliar environment, invasive medical procedures, multiple care providers, and a complex schedule of medications and treatments (Rideout, 2007). From the initial referral to a specialist to the intermittent periods of inpatient and outpatient hospitalization, the child’s medical condition requires first and foremost attention. However, as medical necessity governs the child’s life, threats arise to healthy development in other life domains. According to Martinez and Erickan (2009), the educational and social/emotional problems faced by a child with a chronic illness are almost double in comparison to those faced by their healthy peers. 

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