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sensory-friendly surgery experience

Dayton Children’s is paving the way in providing children with a sensory friendly experience for surgical procedures. We know that kids are not “little adults.” They need care that is catered to their specific needs by a team of health care professionals who are specially trained to care for children.

Surgery is a stressful time for any child and parent, and can be especially stressful for children with autism or high anxiety. That is why we have created unique pre-operative sensory rooms designed specifically for these children. In 2021, Parent's Magazine named Dayton Children's as one of top 15 children's hospitals in innovation and technology for our sensory program.

how does the sensory program work?

During our routine pre-operative call, the scheduler will ask you a series of questions to determine if your child is a candidate for our sensory friendly pre-operative room. If the room is determined necessary, one of our child life specialists will reach out to develop a coping plan that is specific to your child and their specific behaviors, signs of escalating anxiety and triggers. The child life specialist will ask you about specific interests that your child has and items that may bring your child comfort.

From the call with the child life specialist, our team of experts will design the sensory room based on your child’s individual coping plan. Their environment may include:

  • Quiet with low lighting
  • Color mood lighting through a marble LED wall and wall light tiles
  • Fidget objects for children that are hyperactive
  • Liquid color changing floor tiles to walk on and explore
  • Bouncy chairs and floor cushions
  • White noise machines
  • Personal headphones
  • Weighted blankets

Since the start of our sensory program in 2017, the experience has helped reduce the amount of pre-surgery calming medicine from 90% down to 20% of patients.

If you think that your child may benefit from a sensory friendly surgery experience, please let the scheduler know during your pre-operative call.