Temperature hyposensitivity

What is temperature hyposensibility?

Temperature hyposensitivity is when a person is less able to feel heat or cold. Some people may feel it inside them and not on their skin, or the opposite. Sometimes a person may not notice the sensation until much later, when they're resting. You are at higher risk of getting burns or frostbite when you're hyposensitive to temperatures. Autistic people have hypersensitivities or hyposensitivities more often, but people without any particular developmental diagnosis can also have these conditions.

What is thermoceptive hyposensitivity?

Thermoceptive hyposensitivity (to temperatures) is a sensory nociceptive disorder, where there is an insufficient or non-existent response to heat or cold stimuli, and the brain is unable to interpret temperature signals. This can lead to delayed reactions to burns and frostbite, untreated burns and frostbite, and increased risk-taking.

Symptoms of temperature hyposensitivity

Symptoms can vary greatly from one person to the next, as it’s possible to be hypersensitive to heat but hyposensitive to cold for example, or to feel heat and cold on the skin but not in the body.

Consequences of temperature hyposensitivity

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

"Mommy, is snow hot or cold?" Words from Chloée, a 4-year-old autistic girl playing in the snow with her bare hands, pyjamas and bare feet in -38◦C weather. Because autism sometimes also means hyposensitivities... which can prove dangerous.


Just because the sensation isn't felt doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Severe frostbite, even if not felt, can lead to amputation, and an untreated burn can become infected and cause other health problems.

What measures should be taken in the event of temperature hyposensitivity?

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


The brain may need to create sensations since it’s not getting enough. Temperature sensory-seeking can include touching or eating snow, seeking out hot dishes or eating ice cubes, needing to take extremely hot showers or enjoying walking barefoot in the snow. Other behaviours are even more dangerous, such as deliberately burning oneself. If you decide to engage in risky activities, talk to a health professional about how to make them safer.


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