Children with autism spectrum disorder and their family require extensive support and specialized resources for their limitations. The developmental disability nurse works as a team member of professionals helping children with autism. The nurse is specialized in taking care of patients with developmental and learning disabilities. The role of nursing care is not only restricted to hospital and clinics, but extends to the home environment.
The role of a nurse in care of children with autism
The most significant role of a nurse in autism is education. The family and siblings need to be educated on various aspects of autism and autistic disorders. Important areas of education include symptoms, treatment options, expected and potential outcomes, and available support resources. Hence, the role of the nurse as an educator is critical for a positive outcome. The expectations of a nurse in the care of children with autism is to be accessible, available and knowledgeable as an educator and serving as a link.
A nurse must be capable of screening children attending their care who possibly could have autistic features. These children should be referred to appropriate specialist such as Pediatric neurologists, Speech therapists, Psychologist, Occupational therapist and Counseling services for diagnosis and further management.
Nurse should be capable of finding out strategies by which an individual patient and their family are benefited. In addition, it is expected of them to be familiar with techniques commonly used to improve communication, e.g. PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). They should discuss successful strategies previously utilized to achieve behavioral compliance.
Another important role is to guide about self care, hygiene and safety. Provide encouragement, boosting zeal by giving positive reinforcement to the child and the primary caregivers. Implement basic nursing interventions to decrease anxiety and pain to optimize the quality of care. The nurse also attends to basic everyday tasks that patients are unable to perform for themselves in long term facility settings
Nurse serves as an important link between the family and specialty medical provider. The health care visit is stressful for people with ASD because of difficulties with new environments and changes in their normal routine. They have a key role in relieving anxiety by providing information. Must take appointments for regular followup visits and enumerate the problems/progress of the child.
Nurse must be able to provide access to the needed resources and other medico social help
Advocate for the patient in the emergency room, it is the support of basic rights, values and beliefs of the patient
Care at special school requires knowledge of the disorder, patience, and much creativity. Even seemingly simple tasks, such as assistance with feeding, dressing and toileting, and first aid, can pose a challenge, because new environments and changes in routine cause these children stress or even terror. Regular nursing care is required to make these children cope up with the society.
Source: Information Booklet on Autism