Autism Nursing?

  1. Hello everyone I am starting college next month to work on my prerequisites for an ADN program and I also take care of my son who has moderate autism. His autism is actually what inspired this question. Is there an autism nursing specialty? If so on what degree level? Also, does it exist OUTSIDE of the school sector? If I was someday able to incorporate these two into a career it would be fantastic! I would also have a heads up on what to expect from my little guy sometimes. I came here to ask because I am not finding much with google so any information or tips would be great! Thanks!!!!
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  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   JustBeachyNurse
    Not really unless the client happens to be medically complex or have comorbid conditions such as need for a GT or epilepsy.

    Some nurses oversee medical case management in group homes for DD adults but primary diagnosis may not be autism it could be ID, trisomy 21, etc. nurses over see medication management & appointment scheduling and follow up. High turn over often because most often non profit entity and therefore low pay

    Some of my clients that qualify for skilled nursing for transportation to school, during school, or in the home environment may have autism but their qualification for skilled nursing is epilepsy with breakthrough seizures, tracheostomy, GT or GJT dependent, etc.

    Most care can be provided by an LPN with RN supervision and direction
  4. by   akcw1981
    Ok thanks
  5. by   enuf_already
    Some large children's hospitals have clinics dedicated to diagnosing and working with children with autism. They provide care specifically for kids in the spectrum. They are usually staffed with developmental pediatricians, neurologists, psychiatrists, NPs, child life specialists, social workers, and nurses.

    Nurses are responsible for a lot of patient/family teaching, phone triage and support, and directing families to appropriate resources (which often involves the social worker). Having knowledge about IEPs and 504 plans never hurts either.

    Most of the nurses I work with have more than 20 years nursing experience and hold certifications in either pediatrics, developmental disabilities, or neuroscience nursing or have a combination of certifications.

    Consider opportunities to teach educational classes for parents of children with autism. Also look into community groups and consider advocacy and support.

    Many kids with autism have behaviors so child psychiatric nursing might be interesting. Get a few years experience and create your own opportunity! Good luck to you!
    Last edit by enuf_already on Jul 27, '15
  6. by   pixiestudent2
    I worked at a psychiatric hospital that had a dedicated floor for autism and other developmental and or intellectual disabilities.

    You just had to be an RN no special degrees or anything.

    I worked there as a student nurse and absolutely loved it.

    (Though from my understanding, it was a pretty unique unit, we had patients coming in from different states)
  7. by   JustBeachyNurse
    Quote from pixiestudent2
    I worked at a psychiatric hospital that had a dedicated floor for autism and other developmental and or intellectual disabilities.

    You just had to be an RN no special degrees or anything.

    I worked there as a student nurse and absolutely loved it.

    (Though from my understanding, it was a pretty unique unit, we had patients coming in from different states)
    Very few states have dedicated inpatient units for adults with ID/DD. due to changes in regulations and mandates many have moved to community care settings with group homes to promote life skills and "independent" living. There is a house manager, usually a special education major or BA in psychology or social work. CHHA to help with ADLs & hand the pill box to the client to self medicate. There are RNs that are "case managers" that supervise the CHHA (per BoN regulations in most states), do POCT (blood glucose, etc), set up pill boxes, admin medications that can't be delegated such as Lovenox or insulin, follow up on appointments and clinical needs of clients, schedule medical appointments. Social workers help with job placement, further education, coordinate with school districts as students turn 16 and prepare to leave at age 18 or 21, DME supply needs (coordinated with nursing), coordinate DDD resources, coordinate community resources. Most states have moved away from institutionalizations of generations ago and towards community integration which the transition often starts in high school. But again these are agencies that are reimbursed by state DDD, Medicaid and Medicare so the budgets are lower and so are the salaries. Staff stay because they like the work not because of big $$!
  8. by   mmc51264
    i think that is a great idea! both of my children see a neuro-developmental pediatrician and I worked with a special needs child as a HH aide before I got my RN. It would probably have to be in a clinical setting, I would think. As a parent of a child with type 1 diabetes, it helps me deal with similar pts and educating other nurses about it. As a parent of an autistic child, you would be a great resource. I was a former teacher and I have a best friend, a cousin and my brother's best friend, all have autistic children and the DAILY struggles they go through are mind boggling (all three have triplets-one autistic in each set-weird) We need more autism-savvy people out there.
  9. by   Donna Maheady
    At the undergraduate level, I haven't seen any programs. But that may change... given the sky rocketing numbers and need for care.Drexel University offers and online certficate program for nurses. It may be worth checking into it. Bad Request units for children and adults with ASD are rare at this point. But again, that should change in the future. As others have said....there are a few ASD clinics at major teaching hospitals and some mental health care settings. Schools for children with ASD, day programs, camps and group homes are where most nurses I know are employed in this specialty area.
  10. by   Nurseworks
    I feel it is imperative that nursing as a profession develops some sort of sub-specialty, not just for autism, but DD in general. Too often there is simply a hodge-podge of Psych/Peds/MedSurg that is square-pegged for a patient with DD. If psych patients are afforded their own sub-specialties, so to should those with DD, perhaps moreso. JMO.

    My school offers a graduate degree in neuroscience with an emphasis on autism. Something worth pursuing, but I feel more is needed to help this underserved population.
  11. by   sparky605
    I work on a pediatric neuropsych inpatient unit at a psychiatric hospital. About 75% of our patients are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The goal of admission is to stabilize these patients who are experiencing exacerbations of their condition, which often include aggression or self injury. The kids have a wide range of functionality. It is challenging and rewarding.
  12. by   elkpark
    Quote from JustBeachyNurse
    Most states have moved away from institutionalizations of generations ago and towards community integration ...
    Yes, that has been going on for decades, but minors and adults with DD and ASD disorders still sometimes require acute psychiatric hospitalization. I would imagine that that is what pixiestudent2 is talking about, not "institutionalization." I work for a large, well-known psychiatric facility that has dedicated specialty acute inpatient units for children and adults with DD and ASD who acute, short-term hospitalization for stabilization of acute psychiatric sxs.

    And there is still (and likely always will be) a small subpopulation of that group that cannot be safely managed outside of an inpatient setting.
  13. by   pixiestudent2
    Quote from elkpark
    Yes, that has been going on for decades, but minors and adults with DD and ASD disorders still sometimes require acute psychiatric hospitalization. I would imagine that that is what pixiestudent2 is talking about, not "institutionalization." I work for a large, well-known psychiatric facility that has dedicated specialty acute inpatient units for children and adults with DD and ASD who acute, short-term hospitalization for stabilization of acute psychiatric sxs.

    And there is still (and likely always will be) a small subpopulation of that group that cannot be safely managed outside of an inpatient setting.
    Yep, it was acute. They didn't live in the hospital, many came from group homes or from home, and we eventually would send them back.
  14. by   TheSocialMediaCoach
    I would love to know what you think about this Nurse's story. I am unsure if I am allowed to post a link yet Google "Meet Eileen Walters, Nurse Navigator" + autism.

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