Amanda Brown, MSN, RN, CPN, CNL

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Meet Quinn. In 2012, the American Nurses Foundation provided a grant to Amanda Brown, MSN, RN, CPN, CNL, of the University of Florida as part of the Foundation’s Nursing Research Grants program. The Foundation’s grant allowed Amanda to study pediatric nurses’ assessment of procedural pain in children with autism spectrum disorder.

Quinn Hancock was one of the children who participated in Amanda’s study. When Quinn was in pain, like many kids with autism, he wasn’t able to communicate his needs. He didn’t have the language skills to tell his parents what was hurting and what he needed. “There was a time when Quinnie stopped eating — would only eat very small portions,” described Quinn’s mom, Summer. “He became more and more weepy and irritable. This went on for weeks, until one day when I was holding him and trying to soothe him, I noticed his stomach was extremely hard. It turned out he had an impacted bowel. He had been in so much pain but couldn’t tell us why. It is hard and emotionally draining to watch your child in pain, and you can’t do anything because you don’t really know what’s wrong. They can’t tell you where or why it hurts.”

Quinn’s parents had tried everything to help him improve his language skills. Then in 2012 they had the chance to participate in Amanda’s research. The purpose of Amanda’s study was to determine if pain assessment instruments that had been developed for use in other populations could also be used for children with autism. The study has great potential to impact children with autism, just like Quinn, and their families. “I am so grateful to have been part of research that could help kids like Quinnie,” said Summer. “Knowing that nurses like Amanda are committed to changing how children with autism communicate pain means more than I can say.”