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Prep for ER Visit


Emergency rooms are stressful for everyone, including children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Just a bit of planning and preparation can help reduce stress and help families steer clear of difficult situations. Every child is unique and these tips are a jumping-off point for finding the best approach for families and their child's healthcare team to help children with autism.

Plan Ahead

1. Call ahead.

  • Let staff know you are on the way.

  • Ask about potential wait times.

  • Share any issues that may arise for your child, so staff can prepare.

2. Gather preferred items, activities, and snacks.

  • Bring things you know your child likes and finds comforting.

  • Make sure you have enough distractions and snacks.

  • Pack a charger for electronics.

Be Proactive Once You Are There

1. Immediately notify staff. They should be expecting you if you called ahead.

2. Find a quiet area to wait in.

  • Use strategies you know will keep your child calm.

  • Praise your child for good behavior while waiting.

3. Let your child play with their preferred items.

4. Give relevant information about your child to the staff.

5. Assist the staff in making your child comfortable.

Apply Lessons You've Learned from Previous Visits:

1. Use information from prior hospital visits to plan for future visits.

2. Provide staff with helpful suggestions on how to reduce stressful situations.

Emergencies are just that and cannot always be avoided, but being as prepared as possible and anticipating your child's needs with make the experience better for everyone.


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