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Understanding autism in nursing practice

02 May 2021
Volume 32 · Issue 5


It is important that nurses working in general practice have an understanding of autism. Sarah Jane Palmer gives her perspective, as a nurse and someone with autism

Autism is a spectrum disorder that encompasses a range of symptoms, some of which are shared by all individuals with the condition, albeit at different intensities. Some argue that the condition's name of a spectrum disorder may be in fact too broad, as those with more severe learning disabilities who suffer frequent severe meltdowns do not seem comparable to someone with much less obvious sensitivities, and who is able to function well with daily activities such as work. Either way, the important point is that this is a lifelong condition that, whether hidden or not, affects the way the person perceives the environment around them, affecting their ability to communicate and cope with the world they are in.

It is, therefore, important for nurses to have a good understanding of this basic overview: that some symptoms are in fact hidden on the whole, but may present through the way someone communicates in a subtle, yet impactful, way. By having an understanding of this, misunderstandings about someone's intentions can be avoided. Nurses will come across colleagues with autism, as well as patients. Like me, others may also be misunderstood at times because of their condition, so this article aims to point out some areas of the condition that nurses need to be familiar with.

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