OCEANSIDE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Parents of children on the autism spectrum call it a godsend; it's a new autism sensory device to train and equip emergency department staff in hospitals where vulnerable children can be the most anxious and worried.
Eight-year-old Louis Abando, of Seaford, lives with autism spectrum disorder.
A recent visit to the hospital, the chaotic and loud emergency room, was enough to trigger acute anxiety.
"When Louis has to come into a hospital or doctor's office, he has the strength of ten men. You can't hold him down," said Louis' grandmother, Mary Lou Cancellieri.
For Mary Lou and Anthony Cancellieri, their grandson's diagnosis was devastating and a call to action.
"It's a punch to the gut but also a wake up call. Maybe there's a way we can help Louis and others," Anthony Cancellieri said.
They founded a grassroots autism charity called RVC Blue Speaks and quickly established a clinical child life program at their local hospital, Mount Sinai South Nassau.
They donated machines with a mobile sensory station, named "Louie" after their grandson. Light and sound are controlled by the ASD child, switching colors, bubbles and music. They project soothing sights, all working together to relax the child.
"I get more joy out of seeing the parents kind of take a sigh of relief seeing that their children will be cared for in a special way," said Annmarie DiFrancesca, child life services director at Mount Sinai South Nassau.
Last year, 1 in 54 children were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and were twice as likely to visit a doctor.
The staff at Mount Sinai South Nassau are trained and ready to go. Extra caring comes from direct knowledge.
"Friends or their own children who are on the spectrum, and that has a lot to do with our growth," said emergency room nurse Lori Edelman.
"So now we feel really good about it," Anthony Cancellieri said.
"Knowing this could calm him and other children is a godsend," Mary Lou Cancellieri said.
Helping give courage one step forward at a time.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says boys are four times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and those diagnoses are usually confirmed by the age of 2.
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