Caring for the Child With an Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Acute Care Setting

J Spec Pediatr Nurs. 2010 Jul;15(3):244-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-6155.2010.00244.x.


Purpose: This article explores the challenges that patients with autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) face when hospitalized and provides assessment strategies and plan-of-care suggestions for nursing caregivers.

Conclusions: With a high prevalence rate of medical comorbidities among this population, such as gastrointestinal complaints and seizures, nurses are likely to care for hospitalized patients with an ASD.

Practice implications: For a child with an ASD, hospitalization can be an overwhelming sensory and cognitive experience. Nurses equipped with an understanding of the unique needs of a child with ASD can tailor the plan of care to reduce patient and family anxiety, optimize treatment goals, and reduce the stress of hospitalization.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Child
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / epidemiology
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / nursing*
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / therapy*
  • Child, Hospitalized*
  • Communication
  • Comorbidity
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pediatric Nursing