Course Description

This course introduces students to working with individuals with special needs, including those with a disability, chronic illness, severe developmental delay, minimally conscious state, and persistent vegetative state while they are in the healthcare system. Students learn the subtleties of assessing children with disabilities and developmental delays, providing appropriate interventions, and working with the child’s siblings and family. Students are introduced to working collaboratively with other professionals, specifically rehabilitation, as well as specialized pain management scales and techniques. Lastly, students are exposed to the latest technological advances and equipment, assisting those with special needs and disabilities. Students must have a fundamental understanding of the major theoretical frameworks in the field of child development prior to taking this course. This course may count toward an elective option for child life certification but does not fit the criteria for a "child development" course.

Course Outline

Learner Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Develop a working understanding of disability, developmental delay and special needs in children and how this interfaces with hospitalization
  • Define and identify the importance of providing child life services to this population
  • Adapt current child life techniques to best meet the needs of children with special needs
  • Utilize adaptive technology to enhance patient and family experience
  • Interpret subtle cues of children with special needs to provide optimal services
  • Analyze relevant case studies related to providing child life services to this population
  • Provide optimal support and interventions for the unique emotions of siblings of children with special needs
  • Understand the importance of helping children and families transition to adult care




Certification Disclosure: Completion of the UCSB PaCE Child Life certificate program does not result in Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS). Individuals seeking certification must meet specific academic and clinical experience requirements in addition to passing the Child Life Professional Certification Exam. While courses in this certificate program count toward the educational requirements for becoming eligible to take the examination, completion of this certificate program will not, in itself, result in Child Life certification. For more information about certification, visit https://www.childlife.org/certification.

Applies Towards the Following Certificates

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Jan 08, 2025 to Mar 14, 2025
Schedule and Location
Contact Hours
Delivery Options
Course Fee(s)
Course Fee credit (4 units) $650.00
Available for Credit
4 units
Reading List / Textbook
Section Notes

Students are required to purchase the following textbook(s) prior to the first class meeting:

  • Batshaw, M (2019) Children with disabilities. Baltimore, MD: Paul H Brooks Publishing.
  • Lord, C. (2006). Rules. New York: NY: Scholastic Inc.
  • Palacio, R.J. (2012) Wonder. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.
  • Solomon, A. (2012) Far from the tree. New York, NY: Scribner.
  • Webb, N.B. (Ed). (2009). Helping children and adolescents with chronic and serious medical conditions. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Important Notes: All courses are 4 units and offered in an interactive online asynchronous format. Students are required to complete weekly assignments through Canvas. 

After the 7th day of class, no late enrollments will be accepted (01/15/2025). 

Please view our refund/drop/withdraw policy here.- No refund after 01/19/2025

Click here for instructions to access your online course on Canvas.