Pain Thresholds

The child has a very high pain threshold. She can run into a brick wall, fall down, get back up and continue on her way as if nothing happened. We theorize that her hypo-sensitivity to pain contributed to her aggressive behaviors when she was younger. I don’t think she understood that those actions were painful to other people because she didn’t feel pain herself. Just a guess.

It seems like this high pain threshold could be a good thing in some ways, but lately it’s getting a bit scary.

Minor injuries have been turning into badly infected sores because she doesn’t tell us that she hurt herself. Not only does it not hurt badly enough for her to complain about the injury, but also she doesn’t want us to know what she did to hurt herself. She doesn’t like needing a band-aid, and parent delivered first aid is definitely on her no list. Upon discovering these injuries the details are vague – “I fell.” I’m not sure if this is a language limitation or simply not wanting to own up to the less than safe activity that brought about the injury. At any rate she tries to take care of these things herself, and ends up with an infected sore. The latest one involves a chunk of skin on her big toe. I noticed that she was walking a little funny (so evidently there was SOME pain perception there) and when I insisted on looking at her foot I was horrified to see the extent of the damage. I don’t know when the original injury even occurred or how we didn’t know about it when it happened. Luckily a dose of hydrogen peroxide, topical antibiotic, and a good bandage seem to have promoted healing. We’re continuing to monitor it closely.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is how this affects her behavior. The first signs of pain seem to be an increase in oppositional behavior. The last few days have been harder than usual in this regard, testing the limits of my “remain calm” abilities.

I’m wondering if anyone else has had similar challenges and how you handle it. Feel free to comment below…

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