The program recognizes and details the challenges that caregivers may face, and offers common sense and relatively inexpensive solutions.
Donna says it’s mainly about teaching people about autism. The program teaches individuals how to do things differently and what to do when things go wrong or how to make a situation better.
All-inclusive instructional sessions are offered to nurses, laboratory and radiology technicians, and registration staff. Those sessions were eye-opening. Representatives of Autism Tennessee reviewed the program and helped with training.
“There’s a huge variety of perceptions,” Dr. Perlin says. “So many people don’t really know what autism is. They don’t really understand that the sensory issues are huge and that just mild changes can make a huge impact on the kids.”
Participating hospitals began providing questionnaires for incoming patients and their parents to determine any special needs and set aside rooms with special lighting, or beds with tents designed to limit sensory overload and provide a soothing environment.
Staff visits were “bundled,” keeping interruptions to a minimum, and signage was changed to notify staff of a patient’s condition without violating confidentiality guidelines.
“We empowered the staff to be able to take care of these kids,” she says. “It was incredibly positive from the nursing standpoint as well as from the family standpoint.”