Date of Award

Fall 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice

Committee Chair

Dr. LaWanda Baskin

Committee Chair School

Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice

Committee Member 2

Dr. Carolyn Coleman

Committee Member 2 School

Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice


Depression in a normally developed individual can be easy to identify. Sadness and other mood changes are easily noticed. Even in children, symptoms such as mood swings and crankiness, and the loss of interest in things they used to enjoy can be easily recognized by family, teachers, and other caregivers. What makes depression so hard to diagnose in individuals with conditions such as Autism or other intellectual disabilities is the patient’s inability to communicate. Providers must rely on their behavior for diagnostic purposes. This can be difficult for those diagnosed with Autism because the core symptoms of Autism may overlap with depression and anxiety. A key to identifying depression in these individuals lies in getting to know the patient. Identifying individual changes in the person rather than broad symptoms is imperative with this population.

The overall goal of this project was to increase the knowledge of mental health providers and nurses on the importance of identifying signs of depression in persons with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Pre-test and post-test surveys were given to approximately 30 healthcare workers over a two-week period. A quantitative analysis was conducted to determine if the healthcare workers gained any knowledge from the training and if additional information was needed to care for these individuals