Receiving a life-changing diagnosis feels scary and overwhelming for most people. This shocking news elicits uncertainty, worry, and many questions: Why me? Will I be ok? What will treatment be like? How do I tell my family? When do I tell them? How much do I tell them?
These questions can be especially distressing for parents with young children and teenagers. Parents dealing with a cancer diagnosis, heart condition, MS, TBI, stroke, or other serious illnesses and traumatic injuries often do not know how to talk about their diagnosis and its impact on the family. Wonders & Worries is here to help ease the burden of having to navigate those uncertainties alone.
Wonders & Worries is a Texas-based nonprofit, providing free, professional mental health support to children and teens during a parent’s serious, physical illness. Without adequate support, a parent’s life-changing diagnosis can negatively affect a child, increasing their risks for behavioral, emotional, and academic problems. It can interfere with personal relationships and stress management. Wonders & Worries’ free programs ensure children and teenagers can reach their full potential, despite a parent’s serious illness.
Certified Child Life Specialists—healthcare professionals trained in the developmental impact of illness and injury—lead children through an evidence-based, six-session Illness Education and Coping Curriculum.
Children learn about their parent’s diagnosis in age-appropriate language, tailored to their individual learning styles. Children also learn how to label their feelings and recognize signs of stress in their bodies. Lastly, child life specialists explore various coping mechanisms with kids to help them identify which coping tools best support their unique coping style.
Our child life specialists communicate regularly with parents, providing resources and tools to empower parents in talking about their illness, as well as supporting their children through challenging circumstances. The communication skills and coping tools each family develops pave a path to successfully navigate any new changes throughout their medical journey or any other challenging situations to come.
Wonders & Worries offers our exclusive curriculum to families in our Texas service areas: Greater Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. With services offered in English or Spanish, Saturday sessions, and evening hours, we make it easy for families to access the care they need to thrive during a difficult time. Virtual sessions are also available during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For families outside our service area, we operate a national helpline: 1-844-WE-WONDER (1-844-939-6633), accepting calls Monday-Thursday 10am-4pm CST. The helpline is available for families, as well as healthcare professionals, for a free consultation from one of our child life specialists on talking with and supporting kids impacted by adult illness. We also have a Teen Mobile App: “SUP!” free for download on Android or Apple. Teens, ages 13-18 years, can connect with other teens experiencing life with a seriously ill parent. Interactions are monitored by Wonders & Worries staff. Additionally, the “For Parents” tab on our website includes several free resources including illness discussion tip sheets, activity ideas, recommended books, parent videos, and a parent podcast.
We are always welcoming new families! If you have a patient family who could use our support, please call one of our offices, make a referral online, or share our helpline and website! For more information about our services and resources for parents and professionals, please visit our website at www.wondersandworries.org.
We will, together.