I 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.