Date of Graduation

Fall 12-17-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


School of Nursing and Health Professions




Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

First Advisor

Dr. Trinette Radasa

Second Advisor

Dr. Mahmoud Kaddoura


Background: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a chronic and developmental disorder that affects about one out of every 65 children in California, and one in 59 children in the United States. Children with ASD have difficulty communicating and interacting with others, and experience oversensitivity to new stimuli and environments.

Problem: In healthcare settings, children with ASD experience numerous challenges related to lack of adequate knowledge and education of staff regarding ASD, and lack of appropriate environmental and sensory resources which reduce quality of care provided to this population.

Methods: The project took place in a Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES) Unit of a Hospital in Northern California that provides psychiatric and mental health services to approximately 15 children with ASD. This setting had no toolkit and/or sensory room to help staff better care for these children.

Interventions: An educational toolkit to educate and guide staff, and a sensory room available for staff to offer children with ASD to reduce stimuli were implemented within PES.

Results: 21 staff completed pre- and post- Likert-scale surveys, with 100% of the staff stated utilization of the interventions and agreeing with their effectiveness. Moreover, “Sensory Room Log” was used to evaluate the utility of the sensory room, with 100% of the staff using the sensory room for all 15 children with ASD that presented to PES (100% of children with ASD were offered and used the sensory room to decrease stimulation and promote relaxation).

Conclusions: All participating staff believed the educational toolkit and the sensory room were effective interventions to help streamline and improve the quality of care provided to children with ASD in PES and recommended them to be utilized within other healthcare settings.

Included in

Nursing Commons