Proactive steps can provide support to those with autism

We thank Miss Jacelyn Chia Yee Fang for caring for the autism community ("Make emergency departments more autism-friendly"; Tuesday).

Many children and adults with autism do indeed have sensory difficulties that affect them in different ways. These sensory challenges are usually specific to the individual.

The type of sensory support may be varied and individualised. They will also be significantly different for adults and children.

We propose a multi-pronged approach to assist them - an approach that both families and healthcare organisations can adopt.

Accident and emergency (A&E) departments in various hospitals are very busy places and can be rather overwhelming for many people.

Bearing this in mind, it is, thus, essential for caregivers, who know the specific sensitivities of their own children or wards, to take proactive steps to provide such support, where possible.

They may begin teaching their children or wards to take along their own sensory supports with them wherever they go, as part of their usual routines, to ensure they cope more successfully in any context or situation.

A&E departments in hospitals have to meet the needs of many patients with very diverse needs.

It would be useful for individuals to ensure that they remember to prepare such specialised provisions for themselves, wherever possible.

Hospitals may, however, consider making quiet rooms or corners available to any child or adult who requires a quieter or less crowded waiting environment.

This is a generic yet effective provision that would definitely help all users of A&E wards in hospitals, and not just one specific group.

Stephenie Khoo (Ms)

Deputy Executive Director

Autism Resource Centre (Singapore)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2016, with the headline 'Proactive steps can provide support to those with autism'. Print Edition | Subscribe