24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
(800)421-8825
Fax: (361)578-5500

Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Resources
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest News
Parents, Arm Your Kids Against COVID-19 With Good Hand-Washing HabitsToo Little Sleep Takes Toll on Kids' Mental Health: StudyU.S. Kids, Teens Eating Better But Nutrition Gaps PersistHow to Keep Housebound Kids Busy During a PandemicCalming Your Child's Coronavirus FearsAnother Study Finds COVID-19 Typically Mild for KidsSoap vs. Coronavirus: Best Hand-Washing Tips for You and Your KidsKids Get Mild COVID-19 Symptoms, But Chance of Transmission High: StudyWhen Chronic Pain Leads to Depression in KidsPost-Game Snacks May Undo Calorie-Burning Benefit of Kids' SportsPick Summer Camps Carefully When Your Kid Has Allergies, AsthmaKids Raised by Grandparents More Likely to Pile on Pounds: StudyKeep Your Kids Safe, Warm in Wintertime FunHow to Dispel Your Child's Fears About the New CoronavirusDiabetes Among U.S. Young, Especially Asians, Continues to ClimbMom-to-Be's Cosmetics Chemicals Could Lead to Heavier BabyMeds May Not Prevent Migraines in KidsAHA News: For Kids With Heart Defects, the Hospital Near Mom May Matter1 in 4 Gets Unneeded Antibiotics at Children's HospitalsVitamin D in Pregnancy Doesn't Curb Kids' AsthmaFirst Drug Approved for Treatment of Peanut Allergy in ChildrenWhat's the Best Treatment for a Child's Broken Bone?Are Antibiotics a Recipe for Obesity in Childhood?This Year's Flu Season Taking Deadly Aim at KidsWhy Are Fewer U.S. Kids Going to Pediatricians?Severe Deprivation in Childhood Has Lasting Impact on Brain SizeHealth Tip: What Your Child Can do About BullyingWildfires Send Kids to ERs for Breathing ProblemsTV Can Be a Good Influence on Kids' Eating HabitsWould Tighter Swimming Rules at Public Beaches, Lakes and Rivers Save Lives?U.S. Doctors Often Test, Treat Kids UnnecessarilyHealth Tip: Safety Steps if Your Child is Home AloneHealth Tip: Help Your Child Safely Lose WeightAmericans Need to Tackle Youth Obesity: U.S. Task ForceGenes, Family Are Key Predictors of School SuccessKids' 'Microbiome' May Play Key Role in AsthmaA Puppy in Santa's Sack? Probably Not, Say ParentsMore Kids, Teens Landing in ERs After Opioid OverdosesGetting Active Helps Kids' Hearts, Even in the ObeseWhen Does Your Child's Flu Merit an ER Visit?Health Tip: Managing Hearing Loss in ChildrenHealth Tip: Is My Child Too Sick to Go to School?Differences Found in Brains of Kids Born to Depressed ParentsSecondhand Smoke Starts Kids on Path to Heart Disease: StudyHealth Tip: Choosing a PediatricianMany Kids Traveling Overseas Aren't Vaccinated Against MeaslesCould Obesity Alter a Child's Brain Structure?Dramatic Rise in Eye Injuries From BB and Paintball GunsTwo-Thirds of Child Abuse Survivors Do Well as AdultsAHA News: Serious Heart Defects Increase Heart Failure Risk in Early Adulthood
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Child Development & Parenting: Infants (0-2)
Child Development & Parenting: Early (3-7)

Pain Twice as Common for Kids With Autism: Study

HealthDay News
by By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Oct 28th 2019

new article illustration

MONDAY, Oct. 28, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Children with an autism spectrum disorder may be twice as likely to experience pain as kids without autism, a new study suggests.

"Pain is a common but under-recognized experience for children with autism," said researcher Danielle Shapiro. She is an assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor.

Children with autism may experience more pain because they often have other medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, intellectual disability or gastrointestinal problems, the authors noted.

It's also possible that children with autism may experience pain differently than other children.

"Children with autism spectrum disorder also have sensory sensitivities, meaning that physical sensations may be experienced differently or bother them more," Shapiro said. "Painful experiences may, therefore, cause them more distress."

Also, children who have language and communication difficulties, which are common in autism, may have more difficulty describing painful experiences, she said.

Using responses from the 2016 to 2017 National Survey of Children's Health, Shapiro's team collected data on pain from nearly 1,500 children with autism ages 6 to 17, and nearly 49,000 children without autism.

Parents who completed the survey were asked if in the past year their child had frequent or chronic physical pain, including headaches or back or body pain.

Between 16% and 20% of kids with autism were reported to have pain versus 8% of children without the neurodevelopmental disorder, the findings showed.

Kids in pain do have ways of communicating it, even if they are not highly verbal, Shapiro said.

"Children who have difficulty with communication may show that they are in pain behaviorally, which may take the form of increased irritability or behavioral problems," she explained.

But families and doctors may not think of pain as a possible cause of this behavior, Shapiro added.

"A sudden, otherwise unexplained change in behavior is a good clue that something physical, like pain, may be a factor," Shapiro said.

One way to ask these kids about pain is to use pictures of the body to show where it hurts, and sad and happy faces to describe the degree of discomfort, she suggested.

Brandon Korman is a neuropsychologist at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, in Miami. He said, "A lot of kids with autism spectrum disorder don't communicate pain reliably. They may not cry, moan or seek comfort the way other children might, although they may be more sensitive to pain."

Korman isn't sure that kids with autism experience more pain, however. "It's possible that it varies a lot among different kids," he said.

Pain may be experienced in different ways depending on where on the spectrum a child is, Korman added.

"I think it is important that we treat a child as an individual with their capacities and their own needs," he said. "It's likely that what's painful to us is painful to them as well, even if they don't show it or communicate it the same way."

Shapiro's report noted that, historically, kids with autism were thought to be less sensitive to pain than others.

Armed with the new findings, she said children with an autism spectrum disorder should have access to the same pain management strategies that all children do. These may include medication, physical therapy, or behavioral and psychological techniques.

The report was published online Oct. 28 in JAMA Pediatrics.

More information

For more on autism, head to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.