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For people with Down syndrome, family members, caregivers and professionals.

Tips for Successful Blood Draws

November 2021 | Katie Frank, PhD, OTR/L - Occupational therapist, Adult Down Syndrome Center

Woman with Down syndrome getting blood drawn by phlebotomist

Do you or does a family member or friend with Down syndrome dread getting blood drawn? Here are some tips to help with blood draws: 

  • Make sure to be hydrated! This will help the phlebotomist find the vein. Check out our Tips for Staying Hydrated article for ideas and resources.

  • Sensory strategies prior to a blood draw may help calm anxiety. Proprioceptive input like joint compression, vibration, weighted objects, or even push-ups may help. 

  • Using a visual support or story about blood draws may help ease anxiety. Our Resource Library has a Getting My Blood Drawn visual. You could also use a "first, then" visual - "first blood draw, then [reward]."

  • Blood draws are easier if you do not hold your breath. It may be helpful to sing a song in order to continue to breathe. 

  • Ask for a smaller needle, sometimes called a butterfly needle. Oftentimes, individuals with Down syndrome do better with this type of needle if it is available. 

  • Sit still. If this may be an issue, ask if blood can be drawn while the person is lying down. 

  • Use distraction such as watching a video or movie if the sight of the blood/blood draw is upsetting.

  • Ask for numbing medication. 

  • Consider using a device such as Buzzy opens in new window. It is a vibrating device that is placed near the location of the needle insertion to reduce discomfort. 


Tips from Families

  • Provide reminders based on what may motivate your loved one. For example, if your loved one seeks greater independence, remind them that cooperating with blood draws is an important part of managing their health care. 

  • Use calming strategies prior to the blood draw. Resources with calming strategies are available in our Resource Library.

  • Apply a heat pack to the area about 15 minutes before the blood draw.

  • Encourage your loved one to take deep breaths. Breathe together and have them focus on you.

  • Praise your loved one for doing a good job when they get their blood drawn. 

Find More Resources

We offer a variety of resources for people with Down syndrome, their families and caregivers and the professionals who care for and work with them. Search our collection of articles, webinars, videos, and other educational materials.

View Resource Library


Please note: The information on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for a medical, psychiatric, mental health, or behavioral evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment plan by a qualified professional. We recommend you review the educational material with your health providers regarding the specifics of your health care needs.