The refugee preverbal children in urgent need

Categories: Care.

To feel and meet time in a new way, building new spaces full of tasted, felt, smelled, heard, seen, touched time devoted to neonates, babies and infants, the most delicate, the most sensitive, the most vulnerable children who are in urgent need because they are alone, as they are not fully understood.

One should begin just from these very little children, by the millisecond, to create action-in-actions, to share knowledge, to spread learning for these children in pain and suffering.

The more a child is in need, the more they have to receive the total care which embraces them totally, warmly and fully – indeed the adjective ‘palliative’ comes from the Latin ‘pallium’ whose meaning is ‘cloak’.

The Preverbal Child never asks in his pain and suffering. He is closed within his self, within his often dreadful and painful condition, within his inner world. But, just because he never asks, even his asking nothing is an urgent call for giving-to-him totally and wonderfully.

The first step of approaching preverbal refugee children in need of palliative care is our way of being for and before them; a caregiver’s way of approaching these refugee children – as well as every preverbal child in pain – MUST be respectful and protectful, the action of respect as well as the action of protecting each one of them. 

Being before a preverbal child is kneeling down in a chapel and praying. In every child there is a great mystery. The caregivers approaching them are atmospheres for them, owing to their always new signs, gestures, and words tailored just for them.

That’s why, along with the pharmacological care, every refugee child needing palliative care MUST receive atmospheric, behavioral, cognitive, communicational, compassionate, emotional, environmental, sensorial, situational care. Care by the millisecond. This is something for which we must strive.

In order to create this total care it is necessary to know the states of consciousness (Marshall H. Klaus, Phyllis H. Klaus, 1998) belonging to a preverbal child in need, in pain and in suffering: alertness in quietness, alertness in activity, hypo activity, hyperactivity, consolable or inconsolable crying, drowsiness, sleeping in quietness, sleeping in activity.

I wanted to receive as a gift those words written in the article: Adapting to migration as a planetary force, The Lancet, 12th September 2015: “The emotion of WHO’s response is balanced with a pragmatic call to action. UNICEF’s heartfelt plea, meanwhile, has emphasized the responsibility to protect children. But still, professional bodies have a duty to lead the health community with a much more muscular and engaged response.”

A work is in progress in order to write all the recommendations referring to the Atmospheral, Behavioural, Cognitive, Communicational, Compassional, Emotional, Environmental, Sensorial and Situational Care, and the six states of consciousness: quiet alert, active alert, crying, drowsy, quiet sleep, active sleep.

This should be the praxis of best practice, paradigms to keep in mind in order to convert them into syntagms – concreteness of Actions – of being, that action-of-care for every refugee child on Earth.

Professor Dr Luisella Magnani has a dual interest in languages and literature and palliative care for preverbal children. She has published extensively on both topics. Read more on her website.


Now Campaign – International Children’s Palliative Care Network  2015

Adapting to migration as a planetary force – The Lancet 12th September 2015

Your Amazing Newborn, Marshall H. Klaus, Phyllis H. Klaus – Da Capo Press, 1998.

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