Recognizing the Pain

Are headaches an autism trait? While many people with autism experience a range of irritating to debilitating head pains, headaches themselves are actually a response to sensory sensitivity, social and general anxiety or the result of a co-occurring condition (such as EDS, hyper-mobility, and food intolerances). It should be noted that even if headaches are triggered by an underlying condition, they are not an autistic persons fault. Blaming a person for their pain does absolutely nothing to reduce the pain.

Tension headaches, migraines, hypnagogic headaches, and cluster headaches are the most common types that affect autistic adults. Due to word count constraints.

1) Tension headaches. Inadequate sleep, poor posture, micro-tears in joints and muscles, and stress often provoke this kind of a headache. Pain knifes through both temples, the base of the skull, and can radiate to the jaw, shoulders and neck. The severity can range from mild to severe and last for 15 minutes to a month.

2) Migraine headaches. Sensory overload, stress, anxiety, overexercise, hormonal changes, and food intolerances are the main triggers for the severe headache that’s marked by noise, sound, and light sensitivity. Having control over our environments is essential to both prevention and treatment.

3) Hypnagogic headaches. These headaches occur in the middle of the night and often wake a person during sleep. Usually lasting about 15 to 180 minutes, the sufferers may also feel nausea. People with autism often have sleep disturbances, and this sort of a headache could either cause or result from these nighttime struggles.

4) Cluster headaches. With little successful research into the cause of these headaches, sufferers feel a severe pain behind one eye for about 3 hours everday for several weeks or even months. The skin may become swollen around the affected area, and the attacks will often occur at the same time every day, usually a few hours before bed. Many sufferers show stim-like behavior, such as rocking back-and-forth, banging the head and pacing.

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