Recognizing and Tracking Pain, in Children with Developmental Disabilities: Part Two: AAMR Promotes Progressive Policies, Sound Research, Effective Practices, and Universal Human Rights for People with Intellectual Disabilities

By Colatarci, Sally; Nehring, Wendy M. | The Exceptional Parent, November 2002 | Go to article overview

Recognizing and Tracking Pain, in Children with Developmental Disabilities: Part Two: AAMR Promotes Progressive Policies, Sound Research, Effective Practices, and Universal Human Rights for People with Intellectual Disabilities


Colatarci, Sally, Nehring, Wendy M., The Exceptional Parent


There is a growing recognition that it is important to know how to recognize pain in children, especially non-verbal children with developmental disabilities, and ways to help manage the pain.

Parents know their child best and are the best advocates for their child and their child's pain management. As we state throughout this column, it is important to know how to assess whether your child is in pain, how bad the pain is, where the pain is located and what works best for your child's pain. (This latter point will be addressed more fully later in this series.)

Pain is an individualized experience. We all experience pain at some time in our lives and how that pain affects the quality of our life and what measures work to decrease or eliminate the pain will differ for every person.

Individuals have different ways of expressing their pain. If someone says that they are having pain, believe them, no matter what their cognitive ability, because they are experiencing pain.

There are no ideal assessment tools available for children with developmental disabilities, so it is important to find something that works best for your child. Research has shown that children with developmental disabilities are assessed less often for pain, have their pain level underestimated and are given less pain medication than children without developmental disabilities by health care professionals. However, hospitals and physicians' offices also have a new appreciation of pain in all patients and healthcare personnel are learning to be more sensitive to pain relief needs.

In this column, we will explain ways to recognize and assess pain, manage the pain and advocate for proper control of pain in children with developmental disabilities.

Recognizing and Assessing Pain

There are a number of ways that a child tells us that he or she is in pain. In infancy, that way is to cry, although it is often difficult to know where the pain is. As the child gets older, they learn words that they can use to tell us they have pain, where the pain is located and to describe how the pain feels (e.g., stabbing, sharp, dull, all over, etc.). A child with developmental disabilities may not be able to do this. It is important that parents be able to recognize when their child is in pain. A list of these physical signs are given below:

* Increased crying, that may be inconsolable

* Facial grimaces not regularly seen

* Increased physical movements which may include self-injurious behaviors (e.g. biting)

* Rocking and/or head banging

* Increased sounds, such as grunting

* Less playful

* Change in eating habits

* Change in mood, depressed, sad, irritable, withdrawn, and/or less cooperative

* Flushed skin

A health professional may also note that there may be a rise in temperature, an increase in blood pressure and a higher heart rate.

Children who are verbal and know words to use for pain may choose not to tell a parent that they are in pain. This may be because they think the parent already knows that they do not know what to do and/or they are scared that if they tell they will have to see a health care professional, go to the hospital and/or have a procedure (e.g., a shot) that will further be painful. Other children may not know the words to use to tell about their pain and are poor reporters of where it hurts and how much it hurts. Parents should be aware that some neurological conditions affect pain sensors and the sensation of the pain for the child is altered.

Here are some questions that you can ask your child:

* Tell me about a time when you had pain before. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Recognizing and Tracking Pain, in Children with Developmental Disabilities: Part Two: AAMR Promotes Progressive Policies, Sound Research, Effective Practices, and Universal Human Rights for People with Intellectual Disabilities
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.