The Autism Friendly Initiative is inspired by the experiences that patients, caregivers, clinicians, and staff have shared. Patients with ASD have various sensory and communication needs which can make the fast-paced and often over-stimulating hospital environment particularly challenging, as shown in the illustration above. This is also supported by the literature, which suggests that patients with autism have significant healthcare needs (see the infographic below).
We have recognized these challenges and therefore launched the Autism Friendly Initiative. Through patient and parent focus groups, interviews with stakeholders, a review of the literature, and ongoing studies, we have identified three categories of challenges faced by patients with ASD during healthcare encounters. These are: gaps in clinician and staff knowledge about ASD, complex sensory needs of patients, and communication challenges between the provider and patient. We are piloting a range of interventions to address these challenges.