Health briefs: Manual gives emergency crews autism training

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Three researchers from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and an Allegheny Health Network physician have composed a new training manual and a DVD designed to educate emergency medical personnel how to assess, communicate and treat autistic patients.

The manual and DVD are called "A Guide for Emergency Department Personnel: Assessing and Treating Individuals With Autism," and more information is available from IUP's Office of Special Projects.

The loud, chaotic, rushed environment of the typical emergency room can frighten an autistic person, making a difficult situation even more difficult for the patient, caregiver and health care provider. The environment can heighten the autistic person's struggles with communication, sensory processing and social behavior.

The authors are Joann Migyanka, Jeffrey Fratangeli and Susan Glor-Scheib of IUP and Arvind Venkat, vice chair for research and faculty academic affairs in the emergency medicine department of the West Penn Allegheny Health System, part of the Allegheny Health Network.

Dr. Venkat said the incidence of autism spectrum in the U.S. is "for reasons we don't completely understand" on the rise. "Emergency department employees in particular are often confronted with distressed or agitated patients who may find it difficult to communicate their needs," he added. "Autism spectrum disorder patients are particularly at risk for this obstacle to effective medical care."

For more information on the training manual and DVD, go to www.iup.edu/page.aspx?id=158264, call 724-357-4719 or email Ms. Migyanka at jmigyanka@iup.edu.

Depression screening Oct. 10

National Depression Screening Day will be held Oct. 10 as an opportunity to learn more about depression and other mood disorders that affect people of all ages. Screenings are free and confidential.

To find a screening day location, visit www.mentalhealthscreening.org.

More than 15 million American adults suffer from some form of depression. It also is estimated that one in five youths experience depression at some point during adolescence; at any given time, about 5 percent of children and teens in the general population are depressed.

Depression is more than just occasional sadness. According to the American Psychological Association, people with depression may experience: lack of interest and pleasure in daily activities, significant weight loss or gain, insomnia or excessive sleeping, lack of energy, inability to concentrate, feelings of worthless or excessive guilt, and/or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

In addition, children and teens with depression may be more irritable or cranky, show changes in school work or a drop in grades, seem less interested in being with friends or doing their usual activities, and, like adults, may even think about death.

For more information on psychological and emotional health, visit the Pennsylvania Psychological Association's website at www.papsy.org or the American Psychological Association's Consumer Help Center at www.APAHelpCenter.org.

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