Lindsay Lloveras, PhD, BCBA has been working with the hospital team at UF Health to ensure a smooth transition for people living with ASD who have to experience any hospitalization. Read about her program below.
Written by: Lindsay Lloveras, PhD, BCBA
Receiving news that your child is going to be admitted to the hospital can be challenging for any parent. You might worry about how you are going to take time off work to be with your child, whether your child will be scared or uncomfortable in the hospital setting, and if your child’s medical issues will be resolved. These challenges can be exacerbated when the child also has a neurodevelopmental disorder such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD); they can become even harder when the child also has communication deficits or exhibits challenging behavior such as aggression or self-injury. Moving to an inpatient hospital setting often means that typical outpatient therapies and supports (e.g., occupational/physical/speech therapy, applied behavior analysis, classroom aids) become unavailable or limited in scope during admission. Additionally, nurses working with these patients already may be stretched thin.
My job coordinating the pediatric inpatient behavioral consultation program is to support these families and caregivers when children experience additional challenges during their hospital stay. My goal is to improve quality of care by developing patient-centered behavioral intervention programs that maximize support and minimize crises. This includes identifying therapeutic treatments such as environmental enrichment, increasing cooperation with medical procedures such as blood draws, and creating opportunities for the patient to safely communicate their needs. I also help set families up for success by connecting them to our UF Health CAN patient navigator as well as CARD to ensure that they have access to comprehensive care following discharge.
In addition to supporting patients and families, I also am developing training for nurses on how to best care for patients with complex neurodevelopmental or behavioral needs. This includes education on the specific characteristics of neurodevelopmental disorders and safety training on how to maximize patient, staff, and family safety in a hospital environment. Our nurses are our frontline workers, and it is imperative that they are empowered with the best tools necessary to care for patients with all abilities.
The goal of all staff at UF Health is to provide the best quality care for all patients, including those with additional challenges. With the help of the pediatric inpatient behavioral consultation program, together we CAN!