Enhancing Care for People with Autism and IDD in the Emergency Department

Welcome to The Arc’s Emergency Department Training Site, focused on enhancing care for people with autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities.


Training Webinar

Enhancing Medical Care for People with Autism & Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities in the ED

Video Library

These videos highlight Self-advocate perspectives, along with Family Members and Professionals, who share their collective stories and ideas aimed to help reduce barriers experienced among people with IDD and Autism in the ED setting.

Training for Culturally Competent Care of Hospital Providers

Training for more culturally competent care in the emergency department and beyond.

Advice from a Self-Advocate and Parent

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Isaiah Lombardo, a 25-year-old man with Down syndrome, and his mother, Angela Lombardo who runs a Down syndrome Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital, share their experiences visiting hospitals and the Emergency Department.  Since he was young, Isaiah has had a complex medical history, which has provided him extensive experience around doctors and hospital settings.  He and his mother offer recommendations on how Emergency Department doctors and medical professionals can best support people with IDD and ultimately deliver better treatment.

Perspectives from a Self-Advocate with Down Syndrome

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Samantha Gibbs is a 20-year-old woman with Down syndrome.  She shares her recent experience visiting an Emergency Room.  She explains how she prefers Emergency Department doctors to interact with her and to be comfortable themselves.  She describes how doctors can best determine her levels of pain and provide the best care to people with disabilities.

Perspectives from a Self-Advocate with Spina Bifida

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Jennifer DiBello is an Irish-Italian woman in her late 40’s. She is a person with a physical disability, called Spina bifida.  She shares her experience in the Emergency Department and the importance of doctors and other emergency personnel to use plain language when explaining medical related topics. She also provides some tips for professionals to help ease patient’s anxiety while waiting.

Insights from an Expert and Family Member

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Dr. Brian Skotko is a medical geneticist and the Director of the Down syndrome clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital.  Dr. Skotko is also the brother of an adult woman with Down syndrome.  In this video he shares best practices in communication with patients and caregivers, managing anxiety, and learning from your patient and their family.

Experiences of a Parent of Two Children with Autism

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Jennifer Drohan is a mother of two young men with autism. She shares her recent experiences in the emergency department with her son, including his multiple ED boarding stays.

Dos and Don’ts for Successful Interactions in Triage and Treatment

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Dr. Sarabeth Broder-Fingert is a Emergency Room doctor and an autism specialist. She offers do’s and don’t for successful interactions during triage and treatment.

Personal and Professional Insights into Medical Care for People with Autism

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Dorothea Iannuzzi, PhD is a researcher in the area of autism. Her publications include the intersection of autism and emergency department usage and transition to adult care for people with autism. Dorothea has a son with autism and shares both personal and professional insights.

Partnering with Support Staff

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Laura Lonski, a Residential Director with Benco in Oregon, shares about the critical role direct support professionals and residential medical staff play in informing emergency department personnel about the person requiring care and in supporting the person with developmental disabilities while in the emergency department.  She outlines the types of information staff can provide and how they can assist both the person and emergency personnel for the duration of the medical crisis.


This online toolkit is for Emergency Room Doctors and Personnel to gain quick access to information, tools and peer-reviewed resources that aims to enhance care for people who experience an Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) or an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), during their emergency room visit.

View Toolkit

The Arc is a national organization with over 600 chapters. Our mission is promoting and protecting the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.
The Arc gratefully acknowledges the WITH Foundation for its support for this project

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Do you have questions about any of the above information? Please contact us and we’ll get back with you soon.

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