Article

Pain Sensitivity and Observer Perception of Pain in Individuals with Autistic Spectrum Disorder

Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow, RHSC Yorkhill, Glasgow G3 8SJ, UK.
The Scientific World Journal (Impact Factor: 1.73). 06/2013; 2013:916178. DOI: 10.1155/2013/916178
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The peer-reviewed literature investigating the relationship between pain expression and perception of pain in individuals with ASD is sparse. The aim of the present systematic PRIMSA review was twofold: first, to see what evidence there is for the widely held belief that individuals with ASD are insensitive to pain or have a high pain threshold in the peer-reviewed literature and, second, to examine whether individuals with ASD react or express pain differently. Fifteen studies investigating pain in individuals with ASD were identified. The case studies all reported pain insensitivity in individuals with ASD. However, the majority of the ten experimental studies reviewed indicate that the idea that individuals with ASD are pain insensitive needs to be challenged. The findings also highlight the strong possibility that not all children with ASD express their physical discomfort in the same way as a neurotypical child would (i.e., cry, moan, seek comfort, etc.) which may lead caregivers and the medical profession to interpret this as pain insensitivity or incorrectly lead them to believe that the child is in no pain. These results have important implications for the assessment and management of pain in children with ASD.

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