Exploring behaviour indicators for pain in young people with ASD

By Monash University

An investigation of behaviours used by school-aged children and adolescents with ASD to indicate pain

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects social communication and interaction. Children and adolescents with ASD may have heightened or dulled responses to sensory information. This can make it challenging to organise and understand sensory information within and around them.

Pain is an “unpleasant sensory and emotional experience” (International Association for the Study of Pain, 2019). Each person’s concept of pain is built through life experience and can be expressed in many ways. Children and adolescents with ASD are often said to have either a low or high pain threshold. This study will look at how children and adolescents express pain.

Our aim is to progress our knowledge of how children with Autism tell us they are in pain. We hope that the project will benefit children with Autism in the future by helping us know the signs children with Autism use to tell us they are in pain or hurting. This can help allow earlier detection of pain and shape the pain management they receive.

Who can participate?

  • School-aged children living with ASD
  • Adolescents living with ASD
  • Parents and caregivers

What is involved?

  • Parents/caregivers and their child are invited to participate in a formal interview. Participants will be asked about a time the child has been in pain and how the child expressed that they were experiencing pain.
  • Children will be asked about a time they were in pain and how they let someone know they were experiencing it
  • Parents/caregivers will be asked to complete a sensory profile that will be scored and then they will receive a report for their child’s records.


If you are interested or would like more information, please contact:

Deborah Mitchell – [email protected] or 0427 284 453