On Saturday, April 7, the CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System kicked off Autism Awareness Month by sponsoring Autism Awareness Day: A Sensory Event hosted by the Beaumont Children’s Museum and The Arc of Greater Beaumont. Community members were invited to experience the excitement of the children’s museum while learning about autism.
The first hour of the event was reserved for families with children on the autism spectrum, which allowed them time to get familiar with the museum in a low sensory environment with fewer people around. The museum also provided a Quiet Room that was open all day for children who became overstimulated to have a place to relax.
When the museum opened to the public, children were able to participate in activities such as making fossils, creating custom sensory bottles, and playing with sensory toys and a tactile wall. Families were also given the opportunity to play with service dogs, meet First Responders, and learn what CHRISTUS hospitals do to make ER visits for individuals on the autism spectrum less traumatic.
Ashley Bares, Certified Child Life Specialist at CHRISTUS Southeast Texas St. Elizabeth, shared how the healthcare professionals at St. Elizabeth strive to make children on the autism spectrum more comfortable during hospital visits.
“When registering at the Emergency Room, parents of children on the autism spectrum can ask for an ASAP (Autism Spectrum Awareness Plan) or SNAP (Special Needs Awareness Plan) form,” explains Bares. “These forms help us better understand the challenges some patients face when they come to the Emergency Room so that we can do our best to make them comfortable. We can offer sunglasses for light sensitivity, fidget toys to keep their hands busy, and a weighted lap pad for those who find comfort in deep touch pressure.”
CHRISTUS Southeast Texas St. Elizabeth is proud to provide awareness and support for our autism community and we hope to make hospital visits comfortable and stress-free for everyone who comes through our doors.