According to a new literature analysis which studied 332 articles autism spectrum disorders, 12 of which were specific to emergency room services, found that children and adolescents with autism had up to 30 times as many emergency room visits compared to individuals without autism, (Sarah Lytle, Andrew Hunt, Sonal Moratschek, Marcie Hall-Mennes, and Martha Sajatovic, "Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Emergency Department," Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 79, no. 3 (2018): epub ahead of print doi:10.4088/JCP.17411506). For individuals with autism, up to 30% of these visits were for psychiatric/behavioral problems compared to 2% for individuals without autism. Furthermore, individuals with autism often had additional visits or were admitted more to inpatient units than people without autism.
Prior to arriving at the Judge Rotenberg Center, my brother Matthew was repeatedly in the emergency room for his head banging and suturing, and finally had an over five month hospital stay. He used to say, "I live at Lenox Hill Hospital." He even once ran into a quarantined area. Now, after receiving intensive applied behavior analysis (ABA) with seven positive behavior contracts, earning reinforcers all day and as needed supplementary skin shock, (last one over five years ago, although he did have to wear the device after at times to prevent escalation of behaviors), he is a new man with a paid job at school and going on trips. His identical twin brother, Stuart, who never had ABA, has also had multiple ER visits and hospitalizations for his behaviors or medication side effects. My daughter Talia, who has had intensive ABA for years to treat her dangerous behaviors, has never been on psych meds, and I have not taken her to an emergency room for about ten years, after we were in a car accident.
As discussed in a previous post, the most common reasons for psychiatric hospitalization in individuals with autism can be treated with ABA.
Let's fund ABA to cut down on these emergency room visits and hospitalizations. The ABA will definitely be cost effective.