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Improving the Emergency Department Journey for Children with Autism

Introduction: Children with autism are frequently seen in the Emergency Department (ED). This can be an extremely distressing experience for them and many EDs are ill-prepared to manage these children.

Objectives: The objective of this study is to obtain parental feedback and utilise it to improve the management of children with autism in ED. Methods: Parental questionnaires were distributed by post to parents of children with ASD. The voluntary and anonymous nature of the questionnaires was explained. Results: 124/370 (33%) parental questionnaires were returned providing comprehensive feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Intervention: Education and autism awareness sessions were arranged for Pediatric and ED staff based on parental feedback.

Conclusion: The Emergency Department is a stressful environment for everyone but this is particularly true for those with autism. Simple measures can be instituted to improve patient and parental experience. Autism awareness is vital amongst healthcare staff to ensure a smooth and efficient journey for children with autism.


Lisa Dann, Peter Tormey* and Orla Flanagan

Abstract | PDF

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