Pain: Rod’s experience
People on the spectrum may be over- or undersensitive to touch. In the first case – oversensitivity – they can suffer pain which may be overlooked or underestimated by teachers, parents and caregivers. When people are undersensitive to pain, they may have serious injuries which also – albeit for different reasons – go unnoticed.
Both these problems are excellently illustrated by the following account:
A fragment of a post from Rod Wintour in the LinkedIn group “Autism Researchers Link”, January 7th 2014.
“Aspergers – What is it like to be Tactile defensive?
Aspergers people are hyper-sensitive but not all suffer from tactile sensitivity.
People like myself who do suffer from tactile sensitivity experience a low pain threshold on the skin surface and a high pain threshold below the skin surface. What many people don’t realize about this is that the old saying ‘’it’s only a scratch’’ doesn’t at all apply to us and a mere scratch can be agonizing to us.
I have seen this in the school environment where a teacher is communicating to the child, that the child is making too much fuss. But trust me the child is in a lot of pain.
Another setback is with internal injuries like fractures. Some ASD children can really injure themselves, get back on their feet and continue on playing. The last experience I saw of this was with a six year old Asperger’s girl who fell off an adventure playground at a primary school I was working at. She got up and continued playing and looked perfectly normal. However a few days later her mother noticed the girls hand while she was waking her. It looked bruised and very swollen.
An x-ray revealed that she had broken several bones in her hand. The best rule with ASD children is if you suspect that a fall or an accident would normally injure a child in some way, then assume the child is injured and investigate. Let Mum know as well, as not everything is obvious straight away.
Facts about tactile sensitivity
• Every person experiences it differently from another
• Each person will experience sensitivity in different areas.”
This post goes on about sensitivity to temperature.