Pain hyposensitivity

What is pain hyposensitivity?

Hyposensitivity to pain is when a person feels pain much less intensely. Sometimes the person may not notice the sensation of pain until much later, when they are resting. You are at greater risk of seriously injuring yourself when you're hyposensitive to pain. Autistic people have hypersensitivities or hyposensitivities more often, but people without any particular developmental diagnosis can also have these conditions.

What is pain hyposensitivity?

Pain hyposensitivity is a sensory nociceptive disorder in which there is little or no response to pain stimuli, and the brain is unable to interpret pain signals. This can lead to delayed reactions to injury, untreated wounds, frostbite, burns and increased risk-taking.

When I feel that something is wrong with my body, it is often very advanced (for example, fractures that have gone untreated for weeks)

Symptoms of pain hyposensitivity

Consequences of pain hyposensitivity

The consequences of hyposensitivity to pain vary greatly from one person to another, depending on age, skills, environment and the tools at their disposal.


Carol looks after young autistic children. One of them falls quite violently from the swing, but gets back up and says he feels no pain. So Carol lets him play. Later at home, during bathtime, the child's parents notice huge marks on his bottom. Carol is called to meet with the parents, who are panicked. Fortunately, the child remembers her fall, but Carol should have notified the parents of the fall, especially in the case of an autistic child. The parents later learn that the child is hyposensitive to pain.

What can be done about pain hypersensitivity?

This hyposensitivity cannot be ignored, and precautions should be taken to reduce the risk of negative consequences.

It's 8am and my baby isn't up. He's 6 years old and that's not normal... I come into the room, his eyes are open, I ask him if he's okay and he says yes. I tell him to come and have breakfast and I spoil him with some nice waffles! He smiles, says yum, gets up and falls to the floor! No longer able to walk! I call the ambulance in a hurry... the Chicoutimi hospital flies him to the CHU in Quebec City. Result: perforated appendix, emergency surgery, acute peritonitis. We had the fright of our lives 😞 Nathanaël, our little ball of love, 6 years old at the time, is hyposensitive. We discovered it then. Sarah-Lucie, mother of a 12-year-old autistic child

Sensory pain-seeking

The brain may need to create sensations since it’s not getting enough. Sensory pain-seeking can include pinching, scratching, tearing off small pieces of skin, and can sometimes lead to self-mutilation or risky intimate play. If the person still decides to engage in dangerous activities, they should seek advice from a health professional on how to make the practice safer.


Etan was hit and didn't react. A few minutes later, he notices that the spot where he was hit is very red and swollen. He bursts into tears. He is accused of putting on an act, because it took him so long to cry. But it's not true. The visual information allowed the nociceptive information to reach the brain, and he felt the pain with a delay.


In case of distress, or if the solutions put in place don't work, it's imperative to consult someone who specializes in sensory hypo-sensitivities.

Valérie Jessica Laporte

Autism writer and content creator (French)