Special care for children with autism
Bright lights, loud sounds, strange people, painful touches and little control – the hospital can be a scary and overwhelming place for any child and family.
Those sights, sounds and physical sensations can be even more difficult for children with autism spectrum disorder.
Seeing an average of 26 young patients per week with autism, Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children recognizes the need for additional support, resources, and specialized care for these patients. Our child life specialists partner with patients and families to identify triggers that might make their hospital experience more difficult, and then use research-based and developmentally-appropriate interventions to help patients cope better in the hospital setting.
This includes sensory integration equipment called a Vecta that transforms the hospital room into a more calming environment.
Some patients can also be calmed and comforted by a weighted blanket that provides deep pressure. Fidget toys are used to occupy little hands so they won’t pull on cords and IVs. These techniques can help children better process their environment and experiences. When patients can remain relaxed and cooperative, examinations and procedures are more accurate and provide clearer results for medical treatment.
Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children is the only hospital in North Alabama with a dedicated team of child life specialists. By providing opportunities for therapeutic play and a better understanding about what is happening to them and around them, our child life specialists are helping reduce fear, anxiety and pain for our patients and their families.
Post written by Brittany Ellisor, MA, CCLS (pictured below)