ORLANDO, Fla. - A hospital in Lake Nona is tackling an issue many parents who have a child with autism may face if they need to go to the hospital.
Nemours Children's Hospital has a new sensory room specifically designed for children with autism to help them cope while they wait.
Josh Pelleymounter said the room has helped his 8-year-old daughter, Kylie, who has had a long, complicated medical journey.
Kylie was born at 23 weeks and has had several emergency room visits throughout her life, along with surgeries on her brain and eye.
"We used to keep track and when we got to around 100 ER visits, I stopped counting," Pelleymounter said.
Kylie also has autism, so when her family had to make yet another visit to the ER, they were brought to the new sensory room at Nemours Children's Hospital.
On good days, Kylie's dad said, she immediately gravitates to the room’s bubble machine.
"It's just that brief moment of relief, I think, that gives us a couple of minutes to allow her to reset and kind of not realize where she is," Pelleymounter said.
The two women behind the sensory room carved out an exam room in the ER, allowing children with autism or another disorder to focus on something else.
"Their anxiety lowers, they calm (down) and they are able to have a really positive coping experience with their medical procedure,” said Emily Bradley, a child life lead specialist.
A special projector displays shapes and a light dome on the ceiling reacts to noise level.
Also, soundproof headphones can be used to decrease anxiety.
The hospital is one of the first in Central Florida to transform an exam room to suit the needs of autistic children.
The hospital is working on adding two additional sensory rooms in the ER department.
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