Ways To Discover If Your Autistic Child is in Pain

Ways To Discover If Your Autistic Child is in Pain
Many children on the autism spectrum lack the ability to express internal states, including cold, thirst, hunger, and pain. 

Unlike other neurotypical children, children with autism manifest pain in different ways that may be difficult to assess. 

Thus, as a parent, it is your duty to look out for ways to discover if your autistic child is in pain. 

An effective way to know when your autistic child is in pain is to be very observant. 

Although most autistic children don't express discomfort or pain in typical ways, such as crying or yelling, the human body has its way of expressing its pain. 

By being observant, you can pick any cues your child is in pain and take the necessary steps. 

Also, autistic children have various ways of processing sensory information. 

Some are hypersensitive to sensory stimulations like pain, sound, or light, while others are not. 

A good way to predict situations that might cause your child pain or discomfort is to understand their reaction to various sensory stimulations.

In addition, you can support your autistic child by teaching them how to label their body parts. 

Use visual aids, video modeling, and nursery rhymes to help your child identify their body parts and encourage them to practice what they have learned whenever they feel pain.

Read on to learn five ways to discover if your autistic child is in pain:

Autism Therapists in Colorado

Winnie Siwa, LPCC

Winnie Siwa, LPCC

(719) 345-2424
Leigh Harlan, LPC

Leigh Harlan, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Melvin Lee, LPCC

Melvin Lee, LPCC

(719) 345-2424
Cassondra Chagnon, LPCC

Cassondra Chagnon, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Andreea Felea, LPC

Andreea Felea, LPC

(719) 602-1342
Stephanie Kol, LPCC

Stephanie Kol, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 203-7021
Annalise Saylor, LPCC

Annalise Saylor, LPCC

(720) 449-4121
Jenifer Seas, LCSW

Jenifer Seas, LCSW

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Barbra Styles, LPC, LAC

Barbra Styles, LPC, LAC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Randal Thomas, SWC

Randal Thomas, SWC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342

Be Observant 

As a parent, you can discover if your autistic child is in pain by being very observant.

Most autistic children have difficulty communicating verbally, and it might be difficult to discern if they are in good health if you expect them to communicate with you.

So, instead of waiting on your child, you must make extra efforts to observe and pay attention to them.

Pain comes in different forms and different parts of the body.

Although your autistic child might be unable to discuss their pain, the human body will sometimes "show" signs of pain or discomfort.

Observe your child at all times and look out for signs like shivering, sweating, swollen body part, or extreme fatigue, if you think they are in pain.

Also, you must be observant of changes in your child's sleeping patterns.

One sign of distress common among children is difficulty with quality sleep.

Occasionally, look after your autistic child while they sleep and take note of their breathing, movements, and expressions.

An effective way to cultivate the habit of being an observant parent is to watch your autistic child without interacting.

As your child plays with their toys, eats, or speaks, quietly observe them.

Take note of all their emotions, reactions, and behaviors as they live their daily lives.

This will help you notice any changes the second it happens.

Take Note of Their Sensory Sensitivities 

Many children on the autism spectrum are sensitive to certain sensory stimulations, which can cause pain and discomfort when exposed to them.

Thus, an effective way to discover if your autistic child is in pain is to take note of their sensory sensitivities.

The first step is to pay attention to your child's reaction to sensory information such as light, sound, smell, temperature, and pain.

An autistic child might be under-sensitive or hypersensitive to sensory stimulations, and by understanding their condition, you can help avoid uncomfortable situations.

For instance, if your child is hypersensitive to sound, there's a tendency for them to experience pain or discomfort when exposed to loud noises.

With this knowledge, you can take proactive steps by getting your child noise-canceling headphones or earplugs to help ease their sensitivity to sound.

In addition, you can teach your child specific signals they can use when overwhelmed by sensory information.

For instance, you can ask your child to go to their "quiet space" if they feel overwhelmed or ask them to cover their ears if the noise becomes too loud.

When your child shows these signals, it becomes easier to pinpoint their source of pain and remove them.

Label Body Parts

Many kids on the autism spectrum lack the cognitive skills to identify what they are feeling and may miscommunicate their pain.

The best way to discover if your autistic child is in pain and to help them express their pain sensitivities correctly is to teach them how to label their body parts.

If your autistic child is minimally vocal or non-vocal, you can teach about the various body parts using visual aids.

You can color a part of the body in a book and put band-aids on it, then ask your child to identify what part of the body is in pain.

Similarly, video modeling provides an excellent opportunity to teach your child how to identify various parts and communicate pain.

Take advantage of the multiple nursery rhymes and songs available on the internet to teach your child about the parts of the body.

After your teachings, encourage your child to practice what they have learned the next time they feel pain.

If your child finds it difficult to label their body parts out loud., they can instead touch or point to the parts that hurt.

Note Their Behavioral Changes 

One of the signs your child is going through an underlying or chronic illness is a sudden behavior change.

Although autistic children may not have an evident reaction to painful stimulation, they often have behavioral and physiologic reactions.

For instance, if your autistic child refuses to go to bed or fights to get back up, it might mean they are experiencing physical conditions like severe acid reflux, menstrual cramps, or constipation when lying down.

Also, if your autistic child no longer shows interest in their favorite activities, something might be wrong.

Study their behavioral patterns and environment to identify the triggers and causes of their sudden behavioral changes.

Other behaviors that may indicate your child has a medical problem causing pain include aggression, repetitive behaviors, self-injury, meltdowns, tapping a body part, and gulping.

As a parent, the key to knowing your child's physical condition is to be alert for changes in their behaviors.

Regular Medical Check-up 

Children with autism spectrum disorder are susceptible to various physical health conditions, including epilepsy, gastrointestinal problems, feeding difficulty, etc.

It is thus important to prioritize regular medical checkups to discover if your autistic child is in pain and monitor their health.

Also, doctors can help you monitor and assess your child's growth and development during checkups.

By monitoring your child's growth patterns, you understand a lot about their progress, and doctors are able to identify medical problems before the symptoms surface.

For autistic children, regular health checkups can be scary, confusing, and difficult.

To prepare your child for appointments, you can use visual aids to describe what to expect at the doctors.

You can also review the steps, practice them and encourage your child to ask questions.

Likewise, you can take a sensory tool kit containing headphones, books, sunglasses, fidget toys, chewable items, music, or electronic toys to help your child feel relaxed during the visit. 


Often, children with autism find it difficult to identify pain, label it or have pain-related conversations.

This can expose them to severe medical conditions that may affect not only their physical health but also their mental well-being.

As a parent, you can support your autistic child by learning ways to assess their pain.

You can discover if your autistic child is in pain by being observant, taking note of their sensory sensitivities, teaching them to label body parts, noting their behavioral changes, and taking them for regular medical checkups. 


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July 17th, 2024

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