Nursing and Autism
Autism Spectrum Disorder or Pervasive Developmental Disorder as it was formerly known has increased in incidence over that last two decades. The autism spectrum disorders can often be reliably detected by the age of 3 years, and in some cases as early as 18 months.2 Studies suggest that many children eventually may be accurately identified by the age of 1 year or even younger. The appearance of any of the warning signs of ASD is reason to have a child evaluated by a professional specializing in these disorders. There are no available statistics to quantify the numbers, but the numbers are would have shocked us a decade ago.
The trends of patient care that have become common should come as no surprise because autism spectrum disorders have reached epidemic numbers, and autistic children tend to have many health problems as a result. There is an increase of children having MRI's or CT scans because of the type of care they need. Due to the complexity of care surrounded around the patient and their family, it is essential to focus on the nursing care of such a patient and their family's support. Nurses play a significant role in the quality of care that these children and their families face. The nurse acts as an important educational and support layer in between the Physician and many of the therapy staff that is often needed to assist and diagnose the autistic patients many needs.
The medical field as a whole has begun to observe the many trends that autistic patients and their family's face. Recently there has begun a push to address the special considerations of autistic children and children with behavioral problems. Behavior problems are often a symptom of an autistic child and primarily come from their lack of ability to communicate in some cases or misunderstanding of their individual personality traits and/or levels of handicap.
Many health providers will have a pre-screen...