A Selection of Strategies and Interventions to enable Autism Friendly Audiology Clinics by Andrew Whitehouse

In order to make an audiology clinic Autism friendly one has to consider communication above everything else.  Communicating with a person with Autism needs to be explicit, visual and contextual.  Give your Autistic patient as much information as possible.  Even before they arrive, it will be helpful to alleviate some stress by sharing information about transport, parking, parking fees etc.  Send a clear list of instructions about what to do when they get into the clinic.  A publicly available short video of what happens once inside would be extremely useful as well as another short video about what the examination will look like.   Make all of your facial expressions clear, for example, if you are pleased with a result, make that obvious.

Try to find out about any special interests, this is a great way to make the young person comfortable and foster engagement.  Maybe you could gather this information via a link on the appointment letter?

Most people with Autism have a lack of generalisation skills and many may find it difficult to make conceptual connections.  So, if an Autistic child has visited another audiology clinic before, it may not mean that they will know what to do in yours.  Each experience needs to be approached as new and will require new interventions to prepare.

Noises and other sensory events can be hugely difficult for many autistic children.  If you have several booths and one is quieter – pick that one.  Can appointments be timed to avoid invasive lunch and breakfast time smells?


And remember, wherever possible, no surprises!

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