Background: Children and young people with autism spectrum conditions frequently have adverse experiences in accessing health care.
Methods: An audit of experiences of families known to our tertiary service and hospital staff was conducted. A checklist asking about particular aspects of behaviour and communication was developed and incorporated into pre-admission planning.
Results: Awareness of the child/young person's communication needs and behaviours, plus good preplanning by all staff involved and a team member allocated to ensure that the care plan is carried through, has resulted in a vastly improved 'patient experience' from the perspective of family and staff.
Conclusion: Children and young people with autism spectrum disorder, often with co-existing learning difficulties, vary greatly in their reactions to hospital admission. Preplanning that involves the family with a dedicated informed staff member can dramatically reduce distress and improve the patient and staff experience.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.