Bay Area Sutter Health offers vaccines in environment designed for patients with autism

Dustin Dorsey Image
Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Bay Area Sutter Health designs environment for patients with autism
Sutter Health has found a way to make it a healthy and happy experience when managing the health care of children with autism.

FREMONT, Calif. (KGO) -- It is Autism Acceptance month and part of acceptance is advocating for equal opportunity.

Managing the health care of children with autism can be challenging and stressful for parents. But Sutter Health has found a way to make it a healthy and happy experience with their Sensory Clinic.

Ashley Weaver brought her 9-year-old son, Francis.

"It's become a positive experience and not something that they look at as negative or scary," Weaver said. "They are more comfortable and are able to come without distress."

This special room has made a big difference.

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To alleviate anxiety build-up, patients get their own entrance and can stay in the room for up to an hour.

Each tool is specifically chosen to stimulate the senses and create a fun, calming environment.

"The more that they came here, the easier it became for them," Weaver said. "And it brought a lot less stress overall both for the kids and for us as a family unit."

Weaver says the clinic was a life-changer for Francis and his older brother who also lives with autism.

Because his latest experience was so traumatic, he went 4-years without getting a vaccine.

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Weaver became a driving force behind this clinic in order to give her son and other patients the best chance at a healthy life.

"The shot happened and he was like, 'that's it?'," Weaver said. "Me and the therapist were kind of wiping tears from our eyes because it had been so hard for him to access this before they opened this clinic."

"We really want to meet them where they are and set them up for success in the future," Sutter Health Palo Alto Medical Foundation Pediatrician Dr. Stephanie Chiang said. "In order to provide them with an experience that sets them up well into adulthood."

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The service has grown from children to anyone with intellectual or developmental disabilities or needle phobia at Sutter's Los Gatos, Palo Alto and Fremont offices.

It offers them a chance at a healthy and happy life, no matter the circumstances.

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