George’s Pass: A Unique Program Benefiting Children with Autism

A typical hospital visit includes bright lights, beeping alarms and many different people. This can be especially stressful for a child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, the fastest growing developmental disability in the nation.

In response to this growing need, Valley Children’s day surgery nurse and mother to son Jalen who has ASD, Shelly Reyes developed the George’s Pass program in 2014 to make a positive impact on the hospital surgical experience for children with ASD. The George’s Pass program includes processes and resources for staff, parents and patients to create a better, more individualized experience for all involved.  Named after Valley Children’s popular George the Giraffe mascot, George’s Pass eases the child’s stay through education, personal tours, hands-on activities and more.

With support from Hospital leadership, a multidisciplinary team was formed with the goal of spreading the use of George’s Pass beyond day surgery and to all services located on the Madera campus. Their long-term goal is to spread George’s Pass to all Valley Children’s Healthcare sites, as well as to examine the opportunity to use George’s Pass for patients without ASD, but who might benefit from the more structured environment.

The only dedicated pediatric healthcare network and hospital between Los Angeles and the Bay Area, Valley Children’s treats more than 300 children with ASD each year. George’s Pass addresses these children’s specialized needs from the moment they enter the hospital until they are discharged. George’s Pass is the only program of its kind in the region and is poised to expand hospital-wide in fall 2016, making Valley Children’s an autism-friendly hospital. 

Program highlights include:

  • A George’s Pass icon to identify patients to the entire health care team
  • Reduced exposure to noisy areas of the hospital  
  • Individualized tours, education and hands-on activities with iPads and interactive toys
  • Private post-op recovery rooms (with a door and windows covered by dark curtains) where parents are welcome even prior to their child awakening from anesthesia
  • Various “Social Stories” composed largely of illustrations to guide the child step-by-step through the hospital experience. 

George’s Pass Resources

Contact the George’s Pass Program

If your child would benefit from George’s Pass, please let your child’s health care team know. If you have a scheduled appointment, feel free to call ahead to inform the team. Together we can improve the experience for your child and you.