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

J Autism Dev Disord. 2008 Aug;38(7):1391-4. doi: 10.1007/s10803-007-0511-0. Epub 2007 Dec 27.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement / psychology*
  • Pain Threshold
  • Phlebotomy / psychology*
  • Reference Values
  • Students / psychology