Now Next Boards, also known as Routine boards, and Visual Timetables can help in reducing Autism meltdowns in Hospital.
In Greater Manchester, where OurBoards is based, there are approximately 30,943 autistic people. For each one of these people, a trip to an Outpatients clinic or A&E may lead to sensory overload. When an autistic person is unsupported, sensory issues can lead to challenging behaviour or a meltdown.
Reducing Autism Meltdowns in Hospital Outpatients by being prepared
A child with limited Executive Functioning often has difficulty talking about their emotions in an abstract setting. If you ask about upcoming Outpatients visit they would be unlikely to discuss how they feel about it. In turn, it’s hard for a parent or carer to prepare for such a visit, not knowing how their child feels about it.
A 12 yr old boy, who has recently started using an OurBoards Extended Weekly Timetable, has always had meltdowns when attending outpatients appointments. His mum just considered as part of life. The next time that the boy had an appointment, now that he was using his weekly timetable, he put the appointment card in the Gecko pocket, stuck it onto the board and then drew a smiley face on it. His mum was stunned: “why draw a smiley face on something that always leads to a meltdown?”. Using the visual images on the timetable, the boy was able to explain that he actually liked the appointments. Mum then changed how she approached the visits, less like a problem and more like a trip out, and there have been no more meltdowns.
Reducing Autism Meltdowns in Hospital A&E by providing visual support
Another aspect of limited executive functioning is the inability to follow a process or for a person to understand where they are in that process.
A 7 year old boy recently started attending a new school that uses visual supports in all areas of the school. The boy, who had been excluded from other schools and had recently been home schooled, was given a now next board with his lessons in picture form. The boy could easily see and understand what lessons would take place. At the start of the morning all the lesson pockets would sit on the left side of the board and, after each lesson, the boy would move the lesson just completed over to the right hand column.
- Treatment room
- Treated by a doctor or nurse
The autistic person would be given the board at reception and told how to use it. The board would enable them to understand what they’re doing and would also act as a visible prompt to members of staff. They would know to take the time to explain to the person as each stage is completed and encourage them to move the pockets at the appropriate times.