About the Initiative

Many children with neurodevelopmental disabilities experience extreme stress and behavioral dysregulation in medical settings. These challenges can result in delayed and reduced access to care, as well as increased risk for injury and avoidable restrictive practices. While hospitals and clinics have started implementing strategies to optimize access to medical environments, there is no mechanism to share strategies and limited research to inform practice. 

Supporting Access for Everyone (SAFE) is an interprofessional and stakeholder-driven initiative under the leadership of the Developmental Behavioral Pediatric Research Network (DBPNet) to describe existing best practices for optimizing medical environments for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities, including autistic children. SAFE has three phases:  

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1. Call for Stakeholder Testimony. Community advocates and neurodivergent adults, family members, clinicians (including physicians, advanced practice clinicians, nurses, child life specialists, rehab specialists, etc.), researchers, and other stakeholders are invited to share their expertise and lived experience on how medical settings can provide SAFE care. 

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2. Public Forum. Representative testimony submitted by stakeholders was presented in a live, virtual forum to expand on their perspectives and answer questions from the public audience as well as invited experts. The forum served to consolidate knowledge shared through the testimony process.

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3. Consensus Panel. An assembled panel of experts representing the wide range of individuals contributing to the initiative will convene to integrate the submitted testimony with published evidence and write a Consensus Statement on Best Practices for SAFE Care for children with autism and neurodevelopmental disabilities. This statement can lay the groundwork for disseminating and evaluating SAFE practices, with the overarching goal of improving health outcomes for all children. 

If you think you might wish to offer testimony based on your expertise or lived experience, click here