A new study explored pain perception in people with autism and found that they experienced more intense pain and were less adaptive to sensations than the general population. probably runs counter to popular belief that people with autism are “indifferent to pain”. said it hopes it will lead to better treatment on the part of medical staff, caregivers, and parents.
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 the prestigious PAIN journal.
Dr. Bar-Shalita explains:About 10% of the general population suffers from sensory regulation dysfunction. This means a level of sensory hypersensitivity that impairs normal daily functioning and quality of life. These people have difficulty ignoring or adjusting to, for example, the buzzing or flickering of fluorescent lights, the hum of air conditioners or fans, or the noise of the person sitting next to them chewing popcorn in a movie theater. . Previous studies in the lab have found that these people suffer from pain more than those without sensory regulation dysfunction. are known to occur, making it a diagnostic criterion for autism and associated with its severity.We were interested in investigating pain perception in autism, so we asked: Do people with autism feel more pain than the general population? had little research in the lab before it started.”
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 perhaps their tendency to inflict pain on themselves through self-harm. I know it can result from trying, and I may be unconsciously harming myself to activate the physical mechanism of “pain inhibition.” pain’. “
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. The researchers used a computer to control the duration and intensity of the stimulus, and the subject was asked to rank the intensity of pain she felt on her 0-100 scale. It’s definitely been proven that people with autism hurt more. Moreover, their pain control mechanisms are not very effective.
researcher: “In particular, we aimed to determine whether hypersensitivity to pain stems from hypersensitivity of the nervous system or from inhibition of mechanisms thought to enable regulation and reduce responsiveness to stimuli over time. , carried out various measurements.For people with autism, it’s a combination of two things, he found: increased pain signals associated with less effective pain-inhibitory mechanisms..”
Dr. Bar-Shalita concludes:Our study constituted a comprehensive and detailed study of the pain intensity experienced by people with autism.It is widely believed that they are probably “indifferent to pain” and there are reports that medical and other professional staff treated them accordingly. We show that people with autism are actually more sensitive to pain than most of the population, but at the same time they have not been successful in effectively inhibiting painful stimuli. We hope the results 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.
Hoffman, T. and others. (2022) Apathy or Hypersensitivity? Demystifying the Pain Profile of Autistic Patients. pain. doi.org/10.1097/j.pain.0000000000002767.