Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) face unique challenges when preparing for and undergoing surgery in the perioperative setting. Our goal was to describe this experience via the qualitative evaluation of interviews with parents whose children with ASD had recently undergone surgery in a tertiary medical center. Twelve parents or guardians participated in these interviews. Two independent researchers recorded interviews and analyzed transcripts. The researchers analyzed the interview transcripts using qualitative software to determine the categories of frequent answers to interview questions. Important categories that emerged included behavioral triggers (ie, response to sounds, expression of anxiety and pain), objects used for comfort, communication issues, important people, and advice. We found that children with ASD have specific and unique needs for reassurance and comfort during a perioperative visit. We created a tool, included in this article, to provide a patient-centered framework for interactions with children with ASD in the perioperative environment.
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