Preparing for a hospital trip
No one likes to imagine that their child will get ill. However, it’s sensible for families of autistic children and young people to consider making preparations for a hospital trip, just in case.
We know for many of autistic young people, seeking medical help can induce anxiety. Read our advice on preparing for hospital visits to help reduce some of this stress and worry.
Preparing your child for a visit to the hospital
- Use visual stories as a tool to explain new events and processes.
- Explain why hospital staff might look unusual with our ‘What is PPE?’ visual story.
Talking to health professionals
It’s really important that health professionals have as much information as possible, so they can best support any additional needs. We’ve listed the important information that parents should tell health professionals.
- Explain when you first noticed the illness.
- Describe what has happened since.
- Say what you believe the problems are.
- Know your child/young person’s weight (for working out any emergency medication dosage).
- Ask for reasonable adjustments. These could include asking for a health professional by gender, taking blood samples by thumb prick rather than needle or asking for a quiet space away from excess noise and activity.
You may also need to help the health professional understand the difference between behaviours that relate to your child’s autism, and those that you believe are because they are ill.
You can contact the Acute Hospital Learning Disability Liaison Team at your local hospital. They will provide expert advice to the frontline team caring for your child or young person.
Where relevant, also ask the health professional to use communication aids.
Prepare a health passport
A health passport is a document designed to support health professionals care for someone who finds it difficult to communicate for themselves.
The passport covers information about how your child/young person behaves when they experience pain, how best to communicate with them and how to avoid causing distress. It also includes information about any medical conditions they might have.
To complete a health passport you can download our template.
Individual health care plan
Some children and young people with ongoing health conditions (such as asthma, epilepsy, diabetes, allergies etc) have an individual health care plan. This is not the same as an education, health and care (EHC) plan and is different to the health passport described above.
An individual health care plan is an agreement drawn up between parents, carers, a school or college and healthcare professionals about what healthcare is needed to support the child or young person. If your son or daughter has an individual healthcare plan, make sure this is available for any health professionals. If you think your child or young person needs a healthcare plan, then contact your GP for advice and support.
What to pack in your hospital bag
- One-page profile.
- Health passport.
- Communication support or visuals.
- Healthcare plan (if applicable).
- Medications clearly labelled with dosage.
- Comfort items, for example photo of the family, favourite sensory objects, or a special toy. It might be helpful to include instructions about how to use them with your child/ young person in case you get separated.
Here are other useful resources to help with hospital trips.