Cleveland Clinic Akron General Designated 'Autism Friendly Hospital'

Employees Trained, Processes Implemented to Support Patients Visiting Akron General
akron legends
 Pictured top (left to right): Dr. Brian Harte, Michael Teodosio, Andre Lessears, Dr. William Lanzinger (all of CCAG)
Pictured bottom (left to right): Mary Kay Rogers & Gia Bell (of CCAG), and Laurie Cramer & Lisa Thompson (of ASGA)
Cleveland Clinic Akron General is the first hospital in Akron, and among the first adult hospitals in the nation, to be designated an “Autism Friendly Hospital.” This designation from the Autism Society of Greater Akron was celebrated at a reception on Tuesday in the hospital’s Main Lobby.

Akron General began the process of seeking this designation in 2017 and has succeeded in having more than 650 employees trained to identify a person with autism spectrum disorder. In addition, caregivers were trained in adapting their approach and using visual supports to achieve better medical outcomes. They now use the “Stop. Assess. Support” training curriculum developed by the Autism Society of Greater Akron to help build a more inclusive community that accommodates people with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Ninety-two percent of Akron General caregivers who underwent the training said they feel they can now recognize a person with autism, and 94 percent said they felt comfortable with techniques they learned to accommodate patients with autism.

“It is often difficult for young adults with autism to transition from seeing pediatric providers to an adult setting,” said Laurie Cramer, Executive Director of the Autism Society of Greater Akron. “This initiative is designed to help change that here in Akron so that patients who live with autism are able to get the care they need in a way that works for them. Autism is often thought of as a pediatric diagnosis, which is why Akron General is one of the first adult hospitals to undergo this type of training.”

In addition to employee training, this initiative also involves incorporating supportive accommodations, such as having tablet devices and picture charts available to reduce communication barriers and having sensory-friendly materials in care areas. Akron General is updating its electronic medical records to alert all caregivers of a patient’s autism and is adapting some processes, such as working to move patients with autism into exam rooms right away instead of asking them to sit in waiting rooms. Patients will also receive preference for quieter rooms, away from noisy work areas, to reduce stimuli that can be overwhelming for some people with autism.

“We are very proud to have achieved this designation and look forward to continuing to work with the Autism Society of Greater Akron to help this patient population in any way possible,” said William Lanzinger, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Akron General who is also the Chairman of the Board of the Autism Society of Greater Akron. Dr. Lanzinger was also the physician champion in helping with the hospital’s designation process, and personally trained many of the employees in partnership with the Autism Society of Greater Akron staff.

About Cleveland Clinic Akron General

Cleveland Clinic Akron General is a nonprofit healthcare organization that has been improving the health and lives of the people and communities it serves since 1914. Akron General serves as the hub for Cleveland Clinic’s Southern Region and includes a 532-registered-bed teaching and research medical center in downtown Akron; Akron General Partners, which includes Partners Physician Group; three Health & Wellness Centers; Lodi Hospital; and Akron General Foundation. Recently, U.S. News & World Report ranked Akron General Medical Center as the No. 1 hospital in Akron. For more information, visit


About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion, and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 66,000 employees are more than 4,200 salaried physicians and researchers and 16,600 nurses, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic’s health system includes a 165-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 11 regional hospitals in northeast Ohio, more than 180 northern Ohio outpatient locations – including 18 full-service family health centers and three health and wellness centers – and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nev.; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2018, there were 7.9 million total outpatient visits, 238,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 220,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at Follow us at and News and resources are available at


Autism Friendly Communities

ASGA’s Autism Friendly Communities program includes training in recognizing and better understanding the needs of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their families, reviewing programs and procedures to accommodate potential adaptations, and publicly displaying the organization’s commitment to being a supportive and inclusive place to visit.

The AFC program was launched in 2017 when Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro championed a resolution declaring the county the first in Ohio to be committed to being “Autism Friendly.”


Autism Society Greater Akron and Autism

The Autism Society of Greater Akron (ASGA) developed the “Stop. Assess. Support.” curriculum to train local businesses, governmental and other organizations in the needs of individuals with ASD. ASGA is one of more than 80 affiliates nationwide that are part of the Autism Society of America, the nation’s largest and oldest grassroots autism organization. ASGA is one of two affiliates that conduct Autism Friendly training.

ASGA serves Summit, Stark, Wayne, Portage, and Medina counties. ASGA works locally to achieve its mission to improve the lives of all affected by autism.


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