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Autism Awareness Month: Healthcare Professionals and ASD

Written By: 
The ADC Medical Education Team

As a medical device manufacturer (and one of New York’s largest private employers of people with developmental disabilities) we’ve had lots of conversations with healthcare professionals who work with people on the autism spectrum. What we’ve heard less about – much, much less – is practitioners who themselves have an ASD diagnosis. While there isn’t a large body of knowledge about neurodivergent nurses, doctors, and others in the field, there are some stories out there, stories definitely worth reading. We’ve linked to three women’s accounts below.

While each profile is unique, there are a few common themes:

  • ASD symptoms are often overlooked in women and girls, and many are not diagnosed until later in life.
  • Women are much more likely than men to have their ASD mislabelled as a mental health issue, such as anxiety or depression.
  • Some ASD traits, like a sensitivity to sound or touch, can be strengths that lead to improved patient care.
  • Personal experience with diagnostic history or misconceptions about abilities can help professionals become stronger advocates for their patients.

Autistic nurses: Do they exist?

By Åsa Hedlund, February 23, 2023

“The literature does not reveal much about autistic nurses. Searching ‘nurses’ and ‘autism/Asperger’s syndrome’ in PubMed, CINAHL and PsychINFO resulted in rows of articles about caring for, or communicating with, people (often children) with autism spectrum disorder. But what if the nurse him/herself has autism?”

Read more: https://www.britishjournalofnursing.com/content/professional/autistic-nurses-do-they-exist/

I am a mental health nurse. So why did it take me so long to realize I’m autistic?

By Victoria Sweetmore, April, 18, 2021

“Women and girls often present autistic traits differently to men and boys. … Often the stereotypical obsessions with trains or space do not capture the attention of females. My own special interests over the years have included animals, specific authors, niche film genres, as well as a consistent drive to understand people, which has helpfully led to a deep and sustained interest in mental health and wellbeing and a career in this.”

Read more: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jpm.12762

How Jackie Anne Blair’s Autism Helps Her Be A Better Nurse

Interview by Ron Sandison, September 17, 2020

“Jackie’s autism has provided her with gifts as a nurse to serve patients and staff. ‘I have an excellent memory. My hearing is very sensitive in a way that I can hear things that others can’t. I’m often the first to hear alarms. I can differentiate sounds quickly and more easily. My sensitivity to touch helps with palpation during a nurse exam. I can feel if something is different or off.’”

The ADC and Els for Autism Partnership

In 2014, ADC developed a line of professional grade aneroid sphygmomanometers in support of the Els for Autism foundation and donates 10% from this product family towards the Els Center for Excellence. In 2022 we’ve expanded our Els line to include five light blue stethoscopes. View all of our autism awareness themed products here. To learn more about Els for Autism, visit www.elsforautism.org.

Different Perspectives, Better Solutions

Odds are high that you’ve heard about Breast Cancer Awareness month, but there’s another awareness event in October that traces its roots a full 40 years earlier, to 1945. National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) celebrates the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities, and ADC is proud to participate. Read more here.

Video: 35 Years of Inclusive Employment

Here at ADC, we believe workplaces that welcome the talents of all people are critical to building an inclusive community and strong economy. That’s why we’re one of New York’s largest private employers of people with developmental disabilities, in departments including quality control, production, maintenance, and shipping. Learn more about our 35-year history of inclusive hiring.