Preparing Your Child with Autism for a Hospital Visit

Coming to the hospital can be a very stressful event for a child with autism.

Potential Stressors

  • Overstimulation (crowded waiting rooms, quick paced environment, loud noises, bright lights)
  • Unwanted touch (vital signs, exams, procedures)
  • Unfamiliar environment
  • Change in routine
  • Long wait times

Ways to help your child cope

  • Prepare your child for what to expect  (if you need assistance on how best to prepare your child, please call number below)
  • Allow your child to choose a favorite stuffed animal, blanket, toy, electronic device, or comfort item to bring and keep with them throughout your hospital visit
  • Prepare a bag equipped with activities and sensory items you can bring to each doctor’s visit
  • Prepare a list of your child’s triggers, sensitivities
  • Be prepared to tell staff what your child needs to be successful

Child Life

Child Life Specialists are trained in child development and work to ensure that children approaching challenging environments in the hospital are equipped with effective coping, understanding, and developmentally appropriate education needed to reduce anxiety.

Child Life Specialists can:

  • Develop an individualized coping plan for your child to assist during their hospital visit
  • Discuss what your child’s potential triggers and sensitivities are and communicate with the medical team to help minimize those triggers
  • Teach your child what to expect during their hospital experience, using resources and tools specifically created for kids with autism
  • Provide emotional support and distraction during medical procedures

Please inform the nurse when you check into the hospital that you would like to see a child life specialist.  If you would like more information about how to better prepare your child for their visit, or would like to contact your specific Child Life Specialist prior to your visit, please call the Child Life Department at (832) 826-1650.

Things to remember

  • You know your child best. Be open and communicate to the medical team what your child’s potential stressors and triggers are, and how they are best comforted
  • Bring comfort items and activities from home
  • Utilize Child Life Specialists for extra support