Nursing care for patients with an autism spectrum disorder
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition whereby the brain fails to develop fully. It affects the communication of an individual with others. The symptoms of the condition include exhibiting repetitive behavior, lack of focus to the person communicating and slow processing of information. ASD affects both adults and children.
Nurses play a vital role in the care of patients with ASD. They engage in diagnosis, education, advocacy, personal care, case management, and also help the patient get access to health care facilities. Given that it is estimated that one among 150 children has ASD. Nurses are trained on how to do screening and give referrals for advanced treatment. Nurses are however not trained on how to do a diagnosis on adults. It can only be done by specialized professionals.
The nurse should inform the patients on all the processes and what is expected of the patient before the diagnosis. They can also allow the patient to have an advance visit so that they can familiarize themselves with the staff, routines, smell and the environment. This will reduce anxiety.
It is also wise for the nurse not to keep the patient waiting when they have an appointment. Nurses should keep time. People with ASD get anxious and exhibit adverse behaviors whenever they are in a new environment. Places such as hospitals are over stimulating to the patient because of the noises and many people. This can cause behavior meltdown. The nurse can look for a side room in the hospital that is more secure and comfortable for the patient. The nurse should also be brief, too many words can confuse and frustrate the patient. Remember people with an ASD are not able to process a large amount of information.
Apart from that, the nurse should educate the family members of the patient on how to relate with the patient. They should advise on how to provide personal care to the patient. The nurses should also advocate for the rights of people living with ASD and inform the caregivers on support programs and welfare groups that they can join. In case the patient is referred to other specialists in the medical facility the nurse should consult the health care professional on the best time to meet them and make an arrangement with the patient. Since people with ASD are not able to read well, one can use visuals such as DVDs to pass information.
Giarelli, Ellen, and Marcia Gardner. Nursing of autism spectrum disorder: evidence-based practice integrated care across the lifespan. Springer Publishing Company, 2012.
Giarelli, Ellen, Jean Ruttenberg, and Andrea Segal. “Continuing education for nurses in the clinical management of autism spectrum disorders: results of a pilot evaluation.” The journal of continuing education in nursing 43.4 (2012): 169-176.
Scarpinato, Nina, et al. “Caring for the child with an autism spectrum disorder in the acute care setting.” Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing 15.3 (2010): 244-254.