Olivia Dobson’s research aims to develop strategies to help children with autism undergo less painful and stressful needle procedures that supports them before, during and after the appointment. Dobson’s research will be the first to investigate how needle pain management tools and fear-reducing interventions tailored to the individual needs of a child and their family will create a more comfortable experience.
Dobson is working directly with parents of children with autism to determine helpful additions and modifications to existing resources and strategies such as investigating how to prepare children for needles through home-based education strategies.
These learnings will help inform clinical guidelines and educate health care professionals and families about how to best support children with autism who undergo needle procedures. By understanding these important factors, caregivers can help reduce immediate and long-term risks, such as distress, chronic fear, and inadequate healthcare treatment among children with autism, especially in light of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Dobson completed her undergraduate degree in psychology at Acadia University. She is currently a clinical child and adolescent psychology master’s student with the Pediatric Pain, Health and Communication Lab at the University of Guelph and a trainee in the pain in child health training program.
Dobson has worked with individuals with autism for over six years in many volunteer, research and professional roles. In 2018, she founded the only inclusive dance program in the Annapolis Valley region of Nova Scotia, which includes programming for children with autism. She hopes to continue to advocate and create services that meet the needs of the autism community.