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Toward practice advancement in emergency care for children with autism spectrum disorder

TitleToward practice advancement in emergency care for children with autism spectrum disorder
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsNicholas, DB, Zwaigenbaum, L, Muskat, B, Craig, WR, Newton, AS, Cohen-Silver, J, Sharon, RF, Greenblatt, A, Kilmer, C

Lead Author
David B. Nicholas

Study Aims and Objectives
To discuss the needs of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in an emergency setting and possible barriers to receiving successful care.

Methods- Sample, Procedure, Study Measures, Analysis
16 parents, 37 healthcare providers, and 7 administrative leaders from two emergency departments within the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network were interviewed about successful and challenging aspects of treating children with ASD in this environment.

Results- Main Findings
Providers and families agreed that reducing wait times, creating a care plan, and looking to parents as experts on their child would all contribute to reducing stress and negative behavior for children with ASD in an emergency department setting. Providers also cited additional training and resources as necessary to ensure that this population is treated insightfully and competently in an emergency department environment.

Conclusion- Summary Statement
Children with ASD may have a harder time adjusting to the hectic and unpredictable hospital environment, thus making it more challenging to provide them with successful, high quality care. Several steps can be taken by both the families and healthcare providers to ensure that all parties are comfortable and prepared in an emergency department setting. These include proactively addressing a child’s unique needs at the beginning of visits, creating care plans with healthcare providers, and utilizing tools to reduce anxiety during wait times. Hospitals can work to combat issues by improving follow up care, increasing capacity and knowledge about ASD, and providing child-focused care while respecting parents as experts on their children.

PubMed ID26908476