Vanderbilt Kennedy Center introduces toolkits to mitigate stress caused by needlesticks in patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center has introduced two brand-new toolkits created to alleviate fear and stress in individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) when needlesticks are part of a medical appointment. One toolkit is designed for parents as they prepare their child for a shot during a visit to the doctor, and the other toolkit is for health care providers and clinical researchers who may give vaccines or perform blood draws on patients with IDD as part of their work.

Taking the Work Out of Blood Work and Needle Sticks: Helping Your Child with an Intellectual and Developmental Disability: This toolkit for parents provides ways for you and your child to cope with the stress and worry that may come with blood draws, needle sticks for vaccines, or both. It provides strategies to make these appointments go more smoothly. Although completing blood draws or needle sticks with children with IDD is the focus, the tips presented here also apply to other parts of a clinic visit.

A Comprehensive Guide for Clinicians and Researchers with a Focus on Needlesticks and Blood Draws: Helping your Patients with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: This toolkit provides strategies that you, your practice or your research team can use to help children with IDD more easily complete medical and research visits, including blood draws and needlesticks, while reducing the stress felt by patients and their caregivers. The techniques presented here may be helpful with persons of any age or ability.

These new toolkits were created in collaboration with the Vanderbilt Consortium LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) Trainee Program and Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Autism Care Network (ACNet). These materials are products of ongoing activities of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC) at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (Award #P50HD10353701) and is supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Information in each toolkit was adapted from excerpts from Taking the Work Out of Blood Work, a product sponsored by Vanderbilt Consortium LEND in coordination with Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network.

These two toolkits are available alongside additional health-related printable resources on the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s website,

For more information about these needlestick toolkits, e-mail Kasey Fitzpatrick.

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