Children with autism communicate differently and can be challenging to work with at first. As a children’s nurse, you play an important role in helping these children thrive. If you’ve never worked with a patient who is on the spectrum, here are a few tips.
How to Care for Kids With Autism
1. Minimize Bright Lights & Loud Sounds
Many children with autism have sensory issues, making them extra sensitive to bright lights and loud sounds. If there are bells or buzzers in the house, muffle them with duct tape. If that doesn’t work, give your patient noise-cancelling headphones. Also, reduce the use of fluorescent lights and utilize natural lighting, instead.
2. Have Patience
It’s common for children with autism to have trouble with auditory processing and communication. They may have difficulty understanding nonverbal cues and repeat words they hear from others. Avoid getting frustrated if they take a long time to answer your questions. Instead, let them speak at their own pace. Take a deep breath and remember that the child you’re caring for has their own unique needs.
3. Avoid Using Figurative Language
Using figurative language is commonplace. However, when you speak to a child with autism, avoid using it. Those with autism often have difficulty understanding figurative language and can misinterpret what you mean. Examples of figurative language include phrases like “I’m as busy as a bee,” or “Watching that movie was like watching grass grow.”
4. Stick to a Routine
Unpredictability can make children on the spectrum nervous because they don’t know what to expect. Establish a routine to help them feel more comfortable. Once you’ve determined the tasks you’d like the child to complete, create a schedule in a form that works best for them, like a video model or picture essay. Use an alarm to indicate when the schedule will begin. If you change their schedule, inform them beforehand.
If you’re a children’s nurse looking for new job opportunities, turn to J&D Ultracare in Suffern, NY. This nurse staffing agency has been helping people in the Bronx and Hudson Valley find careers since 1985, and they focus solely on pediatric home care. They provide medical and dental benefits, retirement benefits, and weekly paychecks. For more information about becoming a children’s nurse, call (845)-357-4500 or visit their website.