Central Pain and Autism (Asperger's)

More survey comments which indicate impairment of multitasking in CP


Unfortunately, when the current round of surveys was drafted, we were not looking for distractability to any great extent. It is necessary to continue with the survey in current form to achieve sufficient numbers to make results statistically significant. However, in future surveys, we will likely be asking more about manifestations peripheral to the pain itself.

Although we do not have sufficient numbers to be sure, there are more than the expected number who have commented on distractibility. This is often manifest in the inability to maintain a smooth visual fix when the visual focus on a particular object, such as the TV, is interrupted. However, we are receiving more articulate expansions on this idea, with respondents describing a narrowed consciouness, or inability to hold many things in awareness at once. Some report that they are so distractable that if they attempt to think of one thing or perform a motor task and someone else speaks or moves toward them, that they have trouble holding onto their thought, or performing the motor task efficiently for a moment as their concentration and/or memory are broken.

Loss of multitasking ability is fairly standard stuff for those with injury to the thalamus, but what has been intriguing is some of the language of late which is reminiscent of some of the characteristics of autism, at least the high functioning vareity. There is more than one form of autism, but in at least one form, the individual likes to do things according to a structure and hates interruptions because it distracts them. This leads to frustration, so that they hold with narrow restricted routines to assure success. In other words, they are having trouble keeping on track so they seek routines, and more importantly interruptions of the routein to avoid having to re-remember everything. They also experience frustration if their plan is interrupted by someone else. This is not exactly identical to what we are reading the in surveys, but it is close enough to make us wonder. If you have any symptoms related to distractability, loss of working memory, or fragilily in holding to a course of motor action or thought please send comments in the comments section appended to this article.

It seems not unlikely that many with brain changes share certain deficits in smooth and orderly integration of input and output, which is after all, a thalamic function. Autistic people may have changes in the hippocampus, part of which is the address locater in the brain, or “rolodex of the brain”. The hippocampus is also part of the emotional circuit, (Papez circuit), which explains the frustration. Loss of brain address does not explain all the similarities between autism and CP.

When an autistic person is interrupted in a chain of events, and have to stop, they are said to be “stuck”. To avoid being stuck, they often adhere to familiar routines with great insistence. This word “stuck” has appeared in some of the surveys, wherein if some respondents are attempting to do something, say driving down the street, and they are interrupted, perhaps by someone’s speaking to them, they forget what they are doing for a moment, ie lose track of where they are headed. This lapse or failure of smooth integration of input and output to the brain has been referred to as being “stuck” by some with central pain. It is with this in mind that we write this, not as a sure thing, but as a curiosity. Again, if you have anything to add to this, please send it in the comments section. We are particularly interested in whether this phenomenon is more common in those with stroke CP, or with burning on the face, because of the anatomy involved.