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Nursing interventions for adults with autism

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Many people who have an autism spectrum condition (ASC) are dependent, to a greater or lesser extent, on autism-specific services. However, there are many who live independently of intensive support and come into contact with autism support services only occasionally.

Not all those who have an ASC are diagnosed in infancy and childhood; some are diagnosed much later in life. Many do not have, or may not want - for a host of reasons - a formal diagnosis.

To make a diagnosis simpler and easier to obtain, the government's recently-published Autism Strategy recommends the appointment of a lead professional to develop diagnostic and assessment services for adults with an ASC.

Undiagnosed autism
Nurses working in primary care and the community may come into contact with people with an undiagnosed ASC.

Take the example of Bob, a degree-educated, married man in his late 40s who has a teenage daughter, recently diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. Bob visits his practice nurse for a blood pressure-monitoring appointment, during which he tells the nurse he thinks he may have autism.

How would the practice nurse engage with Bob in this scenario? The first thing would be for the nurse to listen to him and not dismiss his concerns; acknowledge that he may know more about autism than she does.

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