Why do autistic people feel pain differently
The reason why people on the autistic spectrum feel pain differently is probably because of the way our brain is wired. Some autistic people are half numb to pain, some are hypersensitive to it, and some are actually both at the same time. I am.
A blood test gets me grimacing. When a speck of dust gets into my shoe, it stings, making me gasp. Sometimes it’s so small, I can’t even see it and have to run my hand through my shoe. Yet it hurts enough for me to limp to the nearest bench so I can sit and take my shoe off.
Aspie low tolerance for pain can be scary and embarrassing
Before a doctor’s appointment, I’m distressed for days. When I’m told it wouldn’t hurt, I don’t know what to expect. A few times I’ve been told the procedure doesn’t hurt at all, but it did. There were also times I’ve been told it hurts, but I felt nothing.
It’s pretty embarrassing to wince and clench the examination chair’s handles during a ‘painless’ checkup. The doctors think I’m a big baby. I can pick on that. They’re not that subtle about it. I don’t get anything for the pain, because it’s ‘not painful’.
I have sensitive teeth. My dentist told me he doesn’t see any reason for my teeth to hurt. There’s some wear and tear on the enamel, but not enough to cause pain. However, I feel sharp pain when eating cold, sweet, or sour food. It bothers me a lot. Already tried toothpaste for sensitive teeth, but it’s not helping much. Perhaps I’ll get fluoride gel at the dentist’s office.
Aspies and stomach aches
It may be one of the reasons why so many people on the spectrum suffer from stomach aches. I call them ‘autistic stomach ache.’ I know from experience how frustrating they are. There’s a theory about irritable bowel syndrome that people suffering from it get pain signal from simple digestive procedures that most of the population don’t feel, aren’t even aware of. Do autistic people feel pain resulting from something that is totally painless to the general population? Maybe. Although it may not be the only reason. General anxiety can add to it, for example.
Not being able to feel pain can be dangerous
On the other hand, the fact that autistic people sometimes don’t feel pain when they should can be dangerous. What if something’s seriously wrong, and we don’t know? Pain is a warning sign, after all. It’s there for a reason.
Sometimes it’s a blessing in disguise, though. My kickboxing instructor punched me in the face accidentally because I didn’t block the punch fast enough. Blood ran down my mouth, but I barely felt pain. It can probably help in a fight.
Sometimes autistic people do feel pain, but it’s milder. Sometimes we don’t feel the pain at all. I’ve read horror stories about mammograms on the net, how painful it is. I talked to other patients who’d have it, and they said it hurts just a bit. A little pressure, they’d said. But I felt nothing. No pain, no pressure. Just the touch of cool metal on skin. The doctor told me, “Now you’ll feel a bit of pressure.” I didn’t.