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Do nurses know enough about autism?

Autism is one of the most prevalent neuro-cognitive disorders; being diagnosed in 1 in 59 children. Unfortunately, many healthcare professionals do not receive enough education surrounding how to provide supportive care to patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder, specifically regarding overstimulation in an inpatient setting. The literature shows that nurses self-rate their confidence in identifying the signs and symptoms, treatment options, and resources for those with ASD. It is necessary to implement staff training, improved communication, and improvements to sensory barriers, to improve outcomes and quality care for patients with ASD. Overstimulation can arise from scent, sounds, touch, sight, etc. Educating nurses on the techniques and treatment options available to decrease this overstimulation will allow them to work better with their patients and provide a more healing environment. The proposed educational plan would be distributed to nurses in high-traffic areas such as the emergency department and inpatient settings that are often a medium for bright lights, loud noises, and a lack of familiarity. Evidence supports that higher confidence levels and understanding of the disorder are obtained with more experience and education; thus improving educational opportunities on this topic is necessary.

Kathleen Ryan '23
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