A trip to the emergency room is stressful enough, but when you add in the extrasensory sensitivity that children with autism often experience, it’s that much worse.
With this in mind, Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Florida, is piloting a new program aimed at reducing stress for children on the autism spectrum who visit the emergency room, the Associated Press reported.
As part of the program, a child life specialist is brought in, and the staff is trained to reduce the use of unnecessary monitors and expedite tests and consults.
Also, soothing, stress-relieving things like a separate, quiet waiting room or playroom, headphones and sensory brushes to help distract children are offered.
Nemours Children’s Hospital has a new sensory room specifically designed for children with autism to help them cope while they wait.
Josh Pelleymounter said to WFTV that the room has helped his 8-year-old daughter, Kylie, who has had a long, complicated medical journey.
Kylie was born at 23 weeks and has had several emergency room visits throughout her life, along with surgeries on her brain and eye. Kylie also has autism, so when her family had to make yet another visit to the ER, they were brought to the new sensory room at Nemours Children’s Hospital.
The two women behind the sensory room carved out an exam room in the ER, allowing children with autism or another disorder to focus on something else. “Their anxiety lowers, they calm (down) and they can have a really positive coping experience with their medical procedure,” said Emily Bradley, a child life lead specialist on the interview to WFTV.
A special projector displays shapes and a light dome on the ceiling reacts to the noise level. Also, soundproof headphones can be used to decrease anxiety.
The hospital is one of the first in Central Florida to transform an exam room to suit the needs of autistic children. Nemour’s Children Hospital Lake Nona is working on adding two additional sensory rooms in the ER department.