Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

Committee Chair

Gayle Casterline


There is a documented need for caring education regarding patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for nursing students and nursing staff. The autism spectrum population is increasing, one in 59 children in the United States as reported by the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network (as cited in Baio et al., 2018). Nurses are expected to provide appropriate care, showing respect and understanding at all times to both the client and family. Through lack of knowledge and misunderstanding the ASD population has not been given this care. Based on Watson’s Theory of Caring, an educational ASD caring program was created for a summer session Family Nurse Practitioner assessment class. This educational program provided basic knowledge of ASD and appropriate communication skills for caregivers, guided by caring science concepts. Using the Caring Factor Survey-Care Provider Version, Short Version (CFS-CPV) by Nelson, Thiel, Hozak, and Thomas (2016), and the Autism Knowledge Survey-Revised (AKS-R) by Swiezy, Stuart, and Ashby (2005), student perceived ability to care and student knowledge of ASD were measured. There was a 4.8% and 16% improvement, respectively, from pre- to posttest, but the results are inconclusive due to the small response rate. Nursing curriculums and continuing education offerings should include knowledge related to working with special populations, such as those with communication disorders. Nursing practice guided by caring science principles help nurses to build authentic relationships with patients and families resulting in better health outcomes.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.