Making Needle Procedures Comfortable for Autistic Children: Caregiver Perspectives

Dobson, Olivia
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University of Guelph

Autistic children are at increased risk for having difficulty undergoing needle procedures. While clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) are available, little is known about how to make needles comfortable and CPGs appropriate for autistic children. To address this gap in the research, a convenience sample of 20 caregivers of autistic children were interviewed about the appropriateness of CPGs for their child. Interview transcripts were analyzed using descriptive statistics and Reflexive Thematic Analysis. Results underscore the importance of child autonomy and external factors, such as the environment, on children’s comfort. Results also indicate that tailoring of preparation and coping strategies is required to meet the needs of autistic children. Overall, findings support that a patient-centered and individualized approach is imperative to make needles comfortable for autistic children. Recommendations for healthcare providers and caregivers are provided. Results can contribute to developing CPGs that are more appropriate for autistic children and their caregivers.

Autism, Needles, Needle Fear, Pain, Pain Management