Taking the trauma out of a hospital visit: social script
Amaze is committed to promoting meaningful access and participation for all.
It’s why, In April, we made a submission to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee Inquiry into the Delivery of Outcomes under the National Disability Strategy 2010 – 2020, to build inclusive and accessible communities.
People on the autism spectrum can face a range of environmental barriers when seeking to participate in, and make a valued contribution to Australian society.
These barriers can relate to the structural or physical features of a built environment (i.e. lighting and noise), as well as cognitive and/or social differences experienced by many people on the autism spectrum (including a need for routine or predictability).
There is robust evidence that a building’s design or modification can improve access and participation for people on the autism spectrum.
In particular, sensory regulation can be supported through design/modifications relating to spatial configuration, acoustics, lighting, thermal comfort, materials, air quality and safety.
There is also emerging evidence of tools that can be effective to support cognitive differences.
For example, social scripts can support understanding of what to expect when visiting a place or event and sensory maps can support identification of high sensory (i.e. loud, busy, lots of visual stimuli) and low sensory (i.e. quieter) areas.
Amaze has collaborated with a number of innovative Victorian organisations who have recognised the high number of people on the autism spectrum in their community and demonstrated leadership by modifying their environments and/or provided tools to better support them.
For example, with support from Amaze, Northland Shopping Centre has established a world first quiet room for people on the autism spectrum who may need time out from the noise, crowds and other sensory stimuli of a shopping centre.
Amaze has collaborated with Museums Victoria and Parks Victoria on their development of social scripts and sensory maps to support visitors on the autism spectrum.
These initiatives (together with similar initiatives led by Sovereign Hill and Campaspe Regional Libraries) have proven highly successful in reducing barriers to access and participation in a cost-effective and sustainable way.
Amaze has recently been involved in the creation of social scripts for Serendip Sanctuary and St Vincent’s Private Hospital.
We have also supported autism-friendly events from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Disney.
Following is an excerpt from the social script developed with St Vincent’s.
What to tell your child about a hospital visit:
If your child is coming in for surgery, it is best to tell them the truth about why they are coming to hospital.
Telling your child prior to their admission provides them with time to ask questions and to increase their understanding of what is going to happen.
If you have a young child or infant, use simple language that doesn’t make them fearful. Remind your child that the nurses are going to look after them and care for them.
Young children can benefit from role play, using dolls or toys you can put on bandages or band aids, like they might have in hospital.
Many children benefit from reading the (social script) story about what is going to happen when they come to hospital.
Prior to reading through the story with your child we encourage parents to download and read through a Parents and Carers Information Fact Sheet.