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Join Us for Creating Integrated Healthcare for People with ASD

October 15, 2014

Creating Integrated Healthcare for People with Autism Spectrum Disorder. That’s the title of the one-day conference scheduled to take place on November 8, 2014 in Behrakis Grand Hall on Drexel’s University City Main Campus. The conference, complete with invitational speakers and networking opportunities, will explore the ways in which we look at, study, and treat issues surrounding  autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The conference was made possible through a grant from the National Institutes of Health Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (NIH/AHRQ). Creating Integrated Healthcare for People with Autism Spectrum Disorder is also sponsored by the College of Nursing and Health Professions, the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, and Drexel University Online.

Papadakis Corner

The purpose of the conference is to provide the health care community with an opportunity to discuss and co-create solutions to the problems associated with the provision of medical and nursing care to people with ASD who require treatments in a variety of settings. Attendees will define and describe the ideal environmental, behavioral, and/or individual supports during the provision of medical care to people with ASD; barriers to the delivery of integrated care in emergency departments and in-patient acute care settings; and technology or information system improvements needed to eliminate the barriers to inter-professional communication, across acute care settings.

One of the highly anticipated presentations, Emergency Medicine and ASD: Addressing Medical Needs, Conducting Research, and Improving Care Services, will focus on bringing the core characteristics of ASD into the arena of the emergency medicine department. This presentation will be led by Romy Nocera, PhD, a research assistant professor and Clinical Research Director in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Drexel College of Medicine. Nocera will discuss how a majority of persons with ASD have a heightened sensitivity to sensory stimuli such as lights, noises, touch, and may even have a higher than average pain tolerance. Nocera says, “All of that is going to affect their experience in the emergency department.” Nocera will also explain how many emergency department personnel are thrown into inherently chaotic situations without the tools or skills necessary to interact with unique patients like those living with ASD. She agrees that challenges are both infrastructural and training oriented but that the most difficult aspect of these situations to remedy is that of the emergency room infrastructure, since it must accommodate such a large and diverse array of patients.

According to Ellen Giarelli, PhD, an associate professor of Nursing at the College of Nursing and Health professions, the autism literature will soon begin to cover more of the care and treatment of those with ASD. Giarelli is the co-editor of one major addition to the growing literature. Her book, Integrated Health Care for People with ASD: Interdisciplinary Planning and Delivery of Care, will be published in 2015 by Charles C. Thomas, Publisher Ltd. Kathleen Fisher, a professor at the College of Nursing and Health Professions, is the second co-editor. Until now, most autism texts have been directed toward parents and special educators.

Attendees of Creating Integrated Healthcare for People with ASD are encouraged to register as soon as possible. For those individuals who cannot attend the conference in-person, the day’s events will be accessible via synchronous webinar. The conference will specifically target healthcare professionals and students in nursing, medicine, dentistry, physical and occupational therapies, health counseling, health education, and other health-related professionals to discuss integrated care for people living with ASD. Panelists will present clinical and theoretical concepts followed by discussion and open forums to explore how concepts can be translated to clinical settings to improve patient care and generate creative problem-solving approaches to adapting patient assessment protocols, adapting patient teaching and treatment protocols, and to modifying environmental factors to promote optimal therapeutic milieus. After the conference, discussion will be ongoing on social networks and webpages and the sharing of ideas, research information, and access to conference materials will continue!

By Mahmoud Shurbaji ‘15