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Making blood draws easier for children with autism

Having blood drawn can be a very anxious thing for a child with autism. Ellen Hanson and her colleagues have developed an educational kit that they hope will make blood draws easier on kids, parents, and their doctors.

Raising a child with autism is challenging, to be sure, but some situations can be more challenging than others. Take trips to the doctor, for instance – especially if the child has to get shots or have blood drawn. “Anything with a needle can be a real stumbling block for families,” says Ellen Hanson, a researcher in Children’s divisions of developmental medicine and genetics. “It’s completely out of the routine, and children may have had a bad experience in the past or general anxiety about going to the doctor that make it really difficult.

“At the same time,” she continued, “these things are part of good medical care.” Blood draws are also essential for the genetic studies that researchers like Hanson are conducting into the root causes of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). “Some of the families that we’ve reached out to for our studies have been reluctant because of concerns about how their child will react to the blood draw.”

So how can we make this easier on everyone: doctors, researchers, families, and, most importantly, the children?

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