• autism;
  • challenging behaviour;
  • hospital admission;
  • pre-admission planning


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.