For the estimated one in 66 Canadian children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a visit to the health clinic can cause sensory overload and distress. In 2015 we launched a multiyear relationship with the Pacific Autism Foundation Network to help build a state-of-the-art facility committed to supporting patients with ASD and their families, while developing new best practices that would transform the patient experience for children with ASD.

Partnering to create better experiences for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Medical tests can be stressful, but for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) the sensory challenges associated with blood tests can be particularly pronounced. Since 2015, we launched two impactful initiatives to create a more positive experience for patients with ASD:

  • Serving Customers with Autism Program
  • LifeLabs Collection Centre at the GoodLife Fitness Autism Family Hub in B.C.
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Serving Customers with Autism Program

In 2017 we launched the Serving Patients with Autism Program. Canada’s first specific and comprehensive guidelines for specimen collection for patients with ASD, it focuses on delivering a safe and worry-free blood collection experience. Developed in consultation with our community partners at the Pacific Autism Family Network in B.C. and Holland Bloorview Hospital in Ontario, hallmarks of this innovative program include:

  • flexible appointment times
  • orientation sessions
  • visual supports to reduce anxiety
  • tools and toys to engage and comfort
  • fast and reliable results

These guidelines, combined with the effective training of staff, increases the likelihood of successful specimen collection and can reduce potential delays and extra costs to our healthcare system. Since the program started, we have been able to provide this service to over 1,000 patients.

To learn more about the program or book an appointment, visit Serving Customers with Autism Program.

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David’s Story

ASD affects how people communicate and interact with others; it also affects how they make sense of the world. Unfamiliar faces, a noisy waiting room, flickering lights and a scary procedure can cause severe stress and anxiety for individuals with ASD. For David, one of the most upsetting moments in his life was watching his son being held down to get a blood test done.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects how people communicate and interact with others; it also affects how they make sense of the world. Unfamiliar faces, a noisy waiting room, flickering lights and a scary procedure can cause severe stress and anxiety for individuals with ASD.  When things start to feel out of control, it can lead to panic, anger, or sadness.

For David, one of the most upsetting moments in his life was watching his son being held down to get a blood test done:

 

Nobody should have to experience that, especially a child with autism!
David

When their next blood test appointment was approaching, David knew he had to do something different for his son. That’s when he heard about the LifeLabs facility at the GoodLife Pacific Autism Family Centre Hub in Richmond, BC.

This Patient Service Centre was designed specifically to be sensory friendly and a better experience for those with ASD. 

 

When we first walked into the room, I was very impressed. A massage chair, bubble machine, dark curtains, soothing light displays, and a video screen so I could play my child’s favorite movie…it was world away from the experiences we had before.
David

The combination of expert-trained staff, shorter wait times, and the use of many other calming tools and techniques have now been introduced at all Patient Service Centres across Ontario, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia. This is part of the Serving Customers with Autism program, developed in partnership with members of the autism community and through extensive research by LifeLabs in collaboration with the Autism Research Centre at the Holland-Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. As the first of its kind in Canada, the program provides national guidelines and training that are setting new standards for how people with ASD experience blood collections.

In recognition of the launch of the program, LifeLabs was honoured to accept the Pacific Autism Family Network’s Game Changer Award, which honours work that supports the autism community.

To learn more about the program or book an appointment, visit Serving Customers with Autism Program.

Autism Family Hub

Lab Services at the GoodLife Fitness Autism Family Hub

The GoodLife Fitness Autism Family Hub in Richmond, B.C. is a state-of-the-art facility that brings together resources for research, assessment and treatment to support individuals with ASD and their families. The first of its kind in North America, we invested in constructing a specimen collection centre within this Hub to support a more positive blood collection experience for individuals with autism.

 

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          Jack Taylor with his father David trying out the new LifeLabs facility at the Pacific Autism Family Centre

The LifeLabs Patient Service Centre at the Family Hub is a dedicated space specifically designed to accommodate individuals with autism. The combination of fully trained staff, soothing light options, the ability to play videos, and the use of many other calming tools and techniques make for a stress-free experience. The result has been a marked difference for patients with ASD and their families who are accustomed to blood collection being a traumatic experience.

To learn more about the Pacific Autism Family Network, please visit their website.