Title : Using behavior analysis to create an autism friendly environment in a healthcare setting
Hospital visits can be challenging for autistic patients due to unmet communication, sensory, and behavioral needs. Additionally, empiric research indicates that many medical practitioners, including nurses, demonstrate a limited understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and may not feel confident in their ability to support their autistic patients. Trainings and continuing education opportunities for medical practitioners can leave out crucial information and concrete strategies that promote understanding of, and positive interactions with their neurodivergent patients. To support both our patients and their medical practitioners, the Autism Program at Boston Medical Center has launched a behavioral support service, utilizing the principles of behavior analysis–the science of behavior– for our autistic patients during medical encounters to promote positive patient and practitioner interactions. These behavior analytic principles are applied to evaluate the efficacy of evidence-based behavioral interventions to decrease challenging behaviors, increase compliance during medical appointments, and increase practitioner confidence. We are currently conducting single subject research across participants using a multiple baseline design to evaluate the efficacy of such evidence-based behavioral interventions during medical appointments. We believe research findings will inform the barriers and facilitators to implementation of behavior analytic interventions in an applied medical setting. We hope to provide practitioners involved in direct patient care with a basic understanding of ASD, behavior, and tools that can be utilized in any medical setting to ultimately improve medical care of autistic patients.