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Supporting Individuals through the Vaccine Experience

The Autism Society of North Carolina is partnering with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) and organizations across the state to educate our community about COVID-19 vaccines as part of the #BringingBackSummer campaign.

On June 8, we presented a free webinar, The COVID-19 Vaccine and the Autism Community, with our registered nurse and clinical staff. They addressed concerns and provided tips for a successful vaccine visit for those on the autism spectrum. Watch the recording. 


Tips for a Successful Experience

If you have decided to have your child vaccinated, below are a few basic strategies that may make this experience more successful for them. Of course, each person is different and strategies almost always require individualization.

  • In advance of the vaccination appointment, contact the doctor’s office or vaccination site to share any key information about the individual, and to obtain needed information from the office.
  • Try to schedule appointments at off-peak times to reduce any wait time.
  • Bring along highly preferred comfort materials that may help to calm or distract the individual.
  • For some, it is important to concretely clarify what will happen and in what order during the appointment. Using visual supports such as written or picture-based sequences can be helpful for some. We have provided an example here:
    Visual Schedule: English | Spanish
    You could also create your own by writing out the following basic sequence: (1) Ride in the car 2) Doctor’s office 3) Wait in office with tablet 4) Quick shot 5) It’s over! Wait 15 minutes with tablet 6) Go home. 
  • Some individuals benefit from social narratives or video narratives that explain information in concrete, visual form. We have developed several printable examples:
    English (pdf)
    Spanish (pdf)
  • Try to arrange something highly preferred to follow the vaccination appointment. For instance, this might be a trip to the drive through, an outing to the park, or a special video or movie. In some cases, the individual might be more tolerant of the experience if they have something preferable to look forward to.



Information from NC DHHS

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