I have written before that, when it comes to Asperger's, I often feel that the "little things" are the things that stand out the most.One of the defining moments along my journey was when I came across a short section in Dr.Tony Attwood's book "The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome" entitled "The Perception of Pain and Temperature." Dr.
When following popular media coverage, or even the statements of some professionals, the average person could be forgiven for believing that Asperger's is "just" a social disability.
But defining it in these terms misses some very real issues faced by many on the spectrum.
Take, for example, problems with pain perception and body awareness.
Learning about Asperger's has been, for me, a journey.
There can be a hypo- and hypersensitivity to pain (Bromly et al. The low threshold for some types of pain and discomfort can be a frequent source of distress for the child whose reaction can be judged by peers as being a ‘cry baby.' However, children with Asperger's syndrome are more likely to be hypo- than hypersensitive to pain." When I saw this, I remember thinking, "Whoah! One evening, when I was a Freshman in high school, I excused myself from the dinner table to tackle my history homework, leaving mother and brother downstairs chatting. I kept reading the same passage over and over - but I had no idea what I had read. I marshaled my resources and tried again, but before long I again found myself struggling and again I wondered what was wrong. "Oh," I thought, "It must be because it's so hot in here." I wiped the sweat off my forehead, and got back to work. It was really ‘ready to go' - in fact, I think this is the worst case that I've seen, that screamed like that," she said.
I curled up on my bed, balancing the book on my knees, and got to work. This was something, considering that by this point in my life, I had undergone several surgeries, and been hit by a car.When I look back on that day, I realize that the signs had been there for quite some time. Or was it, as some on the spectrum have speculated, a matter of focus?The child's attention can be drawn to a bruise or a cut but the child can't remember how it happened. " Doubled over, I grated out, "Something's wrong." "Do you need to go to the hospital? I baldly answered, "Yes." Fortunately, we lived less than ten minutes away from the nearest major hospital, and my mother got me there in record time.Splinters may be removed without concern, hot drinks consumed without distress. Within minutes of arriving at the hospital, I was being rushed into surgery for an emergency appendectomy.On hot days warm clothing may be worn, or on freezing winter days the person may insist on continuing to wear summer clothes. Attwood continued:"One of the most worrying aspects for parents is how to detect when the child is in chronic pain and needs medical help. A massive wallop of pain had appeared out of nowhere. Afterward, my surgeon commended my mother for her quick thinking.It is as if he or she had an idiosyncratic internal thermostat. Ear infections or appendicitis may progress to a dangerous level before being detected." This brought back memories. "If you had waited," he said, "It probably would have been too late.