School Nurses on the Front Lines of Health Care: How to Help Students With Autism Spectrum Disorder Navigate a Meltdown in School

Christy Lucas, Penn State College of Medicine
Kelly Mahler, Elizabethtown College
Cheryl D. Tierney, Penn State Children's Hospital
Robert P. Olympia, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center


Through a presented case scenario, this article describes the assessment and management of behaviors associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the pediatric population, with mnemonics as a memory tool. Although students present mainly to the school nurses' office with physical complaints, there are many mental health concerns in the school-age population with emotional and physical consequences, particularly among students with ASD. Typically considered a developmental disorder, ASD affects communication and behavior with a wide range of symptoms that can vary in severity from person to person. It is important to understand the presentation and management of common pediatric mental health issues at school to be on the front line of your students' health.