overview: People with autism experience more pain and are less adaptive to sensation than people who are not on the autism spectrum. This revelation contradicts popular belief that people with ASD tend to be indifferent to pain.
sauce: Tel Aviv University
A new study explores pain perception in people with autism and finds that they experience more intense pain and are less adaptive to sensations than the general population.
This finding runs counter to the popular belief that people with autism are probably ‘indifferent to pain’.
The researchers hope their findings will lead to better treatment on the part of medical staff, caregivers, and parents for people with autism who do not always express their pain experiences in the usual way. said he was expecting
The research was funded by the Israel Science Foundation and led by four researchers. Dr. Tami Barsharrita of Tel Aviv University Sackler College of Medicine initiated the study in collaboration with Dr. Elena Granowski of Technion and Rambam. Medical Center, and her Professor Irit Weissman-Fogel and her Professor Eynat Gal at the University of Haifa. This research forms the framework for a dissertation by her PhD students Tzeela Hofmann and Mary Klingel-Levy, based on which three of her articles have already been published or approved for publication.
This study was published in a prestigious journal pain journal.
Dr. Bar-Shalita explains:
“These people are more likely to ignore or adapt to, for example, the buzzing or flickering of fluorescent lights, the hum of air conditioners or fans, or the sound of the person sitting next to them chewing popcorn at the movie theater. Previous research in the lab found that these people suffered from pain more than those without sensory regulation dysfunction.
“Sensory regulation dysfunction is known to occur in 70-90% of people with autism, making it a diagnostic criterion for autism and correlated with its severity. I was interested in investigating pain perception in autism, so I asked: Do people with autism feel more pain than the general population? Very little research was done in the lab.”
Researchers say that for years the prevailing opinion was that “people with autism have less pain” or “indifference to pain”. It is one of the features indicated in the diagnostic criteria for autism. Evidence of this was probably their tendency to inflict pain on themselves through self-harm.
Dr. Bar-Shalita: “This assumption is not necessarily true. Self-harm can result from attempts to suppress pain, unconsciously activating the physical mechanisms that ‘pain suppresses pain.'” We know that you may be hurting yourself in order to change.
This study is a laboratory pain study approved by the institutional ethics committee and the Rambam Medical Center. The study included 52 normal intelligence adults with high-functioning autism (HFA).
In this study, pain was assessed using psychophysical tests commonly used in the field of pain research. These methods examine the relationship between stimuli and responses. Researchers use a computer to control the duration and intensity of stimulation, and subjects are asked to rank the intensity of pain they feel on a scale of 0 to 100.
Findings have proven beyond doubt that people with autism hurt more.In addition, their pain control mechanisms are less effective.
Researchers said: .
“For people with autism, we found it was a combination of two things: an increase in pain signals and a less effective pain inhibition mechanism.”
Dr. Bar-Shalita concludes: They are widely believed to be perhaps “indifferent to pain”, and there are reports that medical and other professional staff treated them accordingly.
“The results of our study show that, in most cases, people with autism actually have a higher sensitivity to pain than most of the population, but at the same time, they effectively suppress painful stimuli.” have not succeeded in doing so.
“We hope our findings will benefit professionals and practitioners working with this population and contribute to the advancement of personalized medicine.”
In an additional article to be published soon, the researchers examined brain activity during painful stimuli in autistic patients and subgroups within this population on pain perception.
About this ASD and pain research news
author: press office
sauce: Tel Aviv University
contact: Press Office – Tel Aviv University
image: image is public domain
Original research: closed access.
“Indifference or hypersensitivity? Solving the mystery of the pain profile of autistic patients.” Tami Bar-Shalita et al. pain
Apathy or hypersensitivity?Demystifying Pain Profiles in Autistic Patients
Excitatory-inhibitory (E/I) imbalance is an underlying mechanism in autism spectrum disorders but has not been systematically tested for pain processing. We hypothesized that the pain modulation profile (PMP) of autistic individuals is characterized by a less efficient inhibitory process along with a facilitation state, indicating a prenociceptive PMP.
Fifty-two adults with a diagnosis of autism and 52 healthy subjects (age- and sex-matched) underwent quantitative sensory testing to (1) respond to transient, repetitive, and persistent thermal pain stimuli; The function of pain-promoting response and (2) pain-inhibition was evaluated. The process of habituation and conditioned pain regulation. Anxiety, crippling pain, sensation, and pain hypersensitivity were self-reported.
The autistic group reported significantly higher single suprathreshold pain ratings (P. = 0.001), repeated (46°C- P. = 0.018; 49℃- P. = 0.003; 52℃- P. < 0.001), tonic (P. = 0.013) cross-correlated thermal stimuli (r = 0.48-0.83; P. < 0.001) and sensitivity to the painful situations of everyday life (r = 0.39-0.45; P. < 0.005) but not the level of psychological distress.
Experimental pain hypersensitivity was attributed to increased autistic severity and sensory hypersensitivity to everyday stimuli.
Autistic subjects efficiently inhibited phasic, but not tonic, heat stimulation during conditioned pain regulation.
In conclusion, in line with the E/I imbalance mechanism, autism is associated with prenociceptive PMPs represented by hypersensitivity to daily stimuli and experimental pain, and inefficiency in suppressing tonic pain. doing. The latter is an experimental pain model that resembles clinical pain.
These results challenge the widely held belief that people with autism are indifferent to pain and that there is a need to raise caregiver awareness of autistic pain sensitivity.