Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2023

Document Type

DNP Project

Project Team Faculty Member

Amy Hamilton

Project Team Faculty Member

Kay Gaehle


Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD, Adult, Hospital, Staff Education, Toolkit


There are disparities in knowledge among healthcare workers when caring for adult patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Lack of knowledge about the characteristics of this population and strategies to enhance care pose a barrier to treatment during hospitalization. A computer based educational module was developed and assigned to staff at a community hospital. An online toolkit for healthcare providers was developed to aid staff in recognition of triggers and supplied adjunct methods for communication. A pre and posttest of healthcare provider knowledge and stigma regarding autism was performed. Achievement of the training was robust among staff; of the one hundred and eighty-four module assignments, only two were not completed. Evaluation of pre and posttest data showed an increase in knowledge regarding ASD. Notable was the increase in staff confidence reported in identifying stressors and recognizing the signs and symptoms of ASD. Post-test data revealed less than two percent of staff were “not comfortable” recognizing or caring for a patient with ASD. The project succeeded in expanding awareness and starting a dialogue among providers to enhance care for patients with autism and other sensory processing disorders..

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