Aspergers and Pain Perception.

Pain PerceptionI have mentioned before that people with Aspergers Syndrome can sometimes be a little over sensitive to touch, smell, taste, sound or even light, which can result in the manifestation of physical pain as well as a feeling of being overwhelmed.

Pain is a extremely complicated subject, and the mechanisms involved in the way pain is felt and processed by the brain is still very poorly understood. Obviously, you will know yourself that a stubbed toe, is an entirely different kind of pain to say, tooth ache, and not just because it is a different part of the body, but the actual sensation, intensity, sharpness and the essence of the pain are very distinct. It is now thought that this happens because very specific pain centres exist, which are designed to cope with specific types of pain, alerting you so you can do something about it or address the cause.

For some people with Aspergers syndrome, some kinds of pain are not processed in exactly the same way as normal. It is not uncommon for a child or adult with Aspergers to have a cut of bruise with no idea of how it happened.

Sometimes people with Aspergers may not experience some forms of pain with the same intensity as normal. A few years ago I was admitted to hospital with suspected gastric flu, although personally I felt it was probably a little food poisoning. As it transpired I had appendicitis, which wasn’t detected until my appendix actually burst, two days after I was admitted. Until that point, it had been uncomfortable, even slightly painful, but not really enough to trigger any warning or concern to myself, my partner or even the medical staff at the hospital. If it hadn’t been for my partner, I probably wouldn’t have gone to hospital at all, as I honestly didn’t feel the need.

Often parents of children with Aspergers Syndrome are unaware of this phenomenon, and to be fair, not all people with Aspergers experience it, but it should be a concern, as it could be all too easy to allow that stomach ache or that ear ache to become something much worse, very quickly without the child (or adult), being aware of it.

There are other indicators of these differences in pain sensation, for example, you may notice someone with Aspergers drinking a very hot beverage with no concern, or perhaps an indifference to a specific kind of temperature, like wearing warm clothes in hot weather, or wearing summer clothes in cold weather.

I don’t mean to suggest that someone with Aspergers doesn’t feel pain or is somehow indifferent to it. Sometimes there are just differences in the way specific pain is processed. Indeed many people with Aspergers Syndrome will never question there own pain perception, which is fair enough, have you ever questioned yours? However, it is something that every Aspie should be aware of.

Zen X


ConDemNation for the disabled

David Cameron & Nick CleggI’m afraid this is a very UK based post today, as I step into the murky world of politics – somewhere I rarely venture, mainly because I don’t believe any particular political party has a mandate that I feel entirely comfortable with.

Over the past 15 years we have made some real tangible progress in the UK in the field of Equality. We haven’t gone far enough, but things certainly have changed for the better in this area. Members of the public, some employers and even some politicians were beginning to grasp the very simple concept that Equality is not about treating people the same, it is about ensuring they have the same opportunities where possible, in other words, the means is far less important than the outcome. Slowly but surely it has become OK to be different, and as someone who is different, let me assure you, I am relieved about that.

Although I haven’t been a Labour supporter for some time, it is true that under a Labour government, we made unprecedented progress in accepting that people with disabilities are valued and useful members of society. When you look closely at our benefits system, it is there in order to promote equality, to help those who need extra care, who need help to give their children an acceptable quality of life or to help support those who spend their lives caring for a loved one who can’t care for themselves. It is there to give these people a fighting chance. The new coalition government is freezing these benefits and a cut hasn’t been ruled out either.

David Cameron seems at heart to be a One-Nation Conservative, but is he? One Nationalism as a concept claims to support social institutions that maintain harmony between different interest groups, classes, and—more recently—different races or religions. One of the key institutions that is held at the heart of this ethos is the Welfare State. Yet here we are, with a Conservative / Liberal coalition, lead by a One Nation Conservative, and one of the first ports of call on his agenda is to look at Disability Living Allowance and to force all disabled people to go through a medical assessment between 2013-16 in order to keep their benefit.

DLA is not means tested, it is provided for disabled people to help pay for non-medical related care and to pay toward mobility. Many people require this benefit in order to work, but the benefit itself has nothing to do with the ability to work. Under the new medical assessment, the whole scope of a persons disability and how it affects them day to day will be judged in a twenty minute session by a doctor who has taken a few minutes to read that persons notes and who is being paid on a case by case basis for these assessments. It seems to me for those people with Mental Health issues on these benefits, this is going to be an unnecessarily stressful process.

Obviously people committing benefit fraud need to be caught, but the government is looking to reduce DLA payments by 20%, and I am sorry, but one in five people are not on the fiddle. Most independent reports put fraudulent claims at or around 6%. To address this problem, the government is in the process of releasing the details of everyone on benefits to private credit agencies – yes that’s right your confidential details held by the government passed on to a private company, so that they can check to see if your spending habits are suspicious. How that works with DLA, which as I mentioned earlier is non-means tested is anyone’s guess.

I don’t personally claim Disability Living Allowance, as I don’t feel I need it, but I am worried that if a Conservative ideology follows true to form, then again the vulnerable members of society will come out worst, and will be seen as a drain on society. In essence, there is a strong risk here that we will see a large step backwards where Equality for the disabled is concerned.

We can only hope for less Con-Dem-Nation for the disabled, but don’t count on it.