Brief report: judging pain intensity in children with autism undergoing venepuncture: the influence of facial activity

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Rosemary L MessmerKenneth D Craig


The biasing effect of pain sensitivity information and the impact of facial activity on observers' judgements of pain intensity of children with autism were examined. Observers received information that pain experience in children with autism is either the same as, more intense than, or less intense than children without autism. After viewing six video clips of children with autism undergoing venepuncture, observers estimated pain intensity using a visual analogue scale. Facial activity as coded by Chambers et al. (Child Facial Action Coding System Revised Manual, 1996) had a significant impact on observers' estimates of pain intensity; pain sensitivity information did not. These results have important implications for the assessment and management of pain in children with autism.


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Autism spectrum disorder is associated with challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, and often accompanied by sensory sensitivities and medical issues. Here is the latest research on autism.