Israeli study finds people with autism feel pain more intensively

Researchers find pain suppression mechanism less effective in people with autism contradicting common belief they are 'indifferent to pain'
People with autism experience pain at a higher intensity than other people, Israeli researchers said in a newly published study.
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  • The study also found that people with autism are less adaptable to the sensation, contradicting the common belief that those diagnosed with autism are “indifferent to pain.”
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    “The findings have proven beyond doubt that people with autism hurt more. Furthermore, their pain suppression mechanism is less effective,” according to the study’s press release.
    It included 52 adults with high-functioning autism and normal intelligence. The research was led by Dr. Tami Bar-Shalita of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University who initiated the study, in collaboration with Dr. Yelena Granovsky of the Technion and Rambam Medical Center, and Prof. Irit Weissman-Fogel and Prof. Eynat Gal of the University of Haifa. They conducted psychophysical tests to evaluate pain.
    "Our study constituted a comprehensive, in-depth study of the intensity of pain experienced by people with autism. The prevalent belief was that they are supposedly 'indifferent to pain', and there are reports that medical and other professional staff treated them accordingly,” Dr. Bar-Shalita said.
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    Dr. Tami Bar-Shalita
    Dr. Tami Bar-Shalita
    Dr. Tami Bar-Shalita
    (Photo: Tel Aviv University)
    “The results of our study indicate that in most cases, the sensitivity to pain of people with autism is actually higher than that of most of the population, while at the same time they are unsuccessful at effectively suppressing painful stimuli,” the scientist explained.
    The researchers hope that their findings will lead to more "personalized treatment" of people with autism by medical staff, caregivers, and parents.

    Reprinted with permission from i24NEWS.
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