Visits to hospital and extended stays for treatment can be challenging for autistic people and their families, but a personal ‘passport’ can be invaluable.
Many NHS staff still do not get training about autism and learning disabilities, although the government is making moves to change this.
Our West Berkshire home visit support worker, Amanda Walker, recently found herself needing to come up with a simple way to her explain her son Jack’s needs when he was in hospital in Southampton and drew up a hospital passport to give the staff an at-a-glance summary.
She said: “I had been saying for a long time in Autism Berkshire workshops that passports with information about a person can be a good idea for various situations.
“I always meant to draw up an example to give to parents – and I finally got round to it when Jack was spending so much time in hospital
“The staff were different all the time, with agency nurses coming in as well, and they all kept asking me the same questions about Jack.
“I thought ‘I’ve just got to let them know who he is as a person’.”
She added: “I had a good look at what was available on the internet – Pinterest is a good place to look, with both blank and completed examples of passports for all kinds of situations – and then came up with one tailored to Jack’s situation. The hospital were really good about passing it round to staff and made sure anyone new working with him saw it as well.”
Amanda included details of Jack’s medical information, how best to communicate with him, his sensory needs, how he might react to situations and things like his eating patterns and his favourite foods.
Click here to download a blank version of the form Amanda drew up, which she says can easily be adapted for other uses, such as giving schools information about an autistic child.
She said: “Teachers don’t have lots of time to learn about each child’s likes and dislikes but a passport gives them useful information in black and white – and means they have something to refer to quickly, if needed.”