Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 270–278 | Cite as

Internalizing Symptoms Mediate the Relation Between Acute Pain and Autism in Adults

  • D. Garcia-VillamisarEmail author
  • D. Moore
  • M. Garcia-Martínez
Original Paper


Research on pain in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is in its infancy, with almost nothing known about how individual differences may predicting pain response in ASD. In the present study, 45 adults (28 male, age 22–48 years) with diagnoses of autism and intellectual delay were observed during vaccination or dental cleaning and their pain behaviours coded and measures of autism symptom severity, anxiety, depression and obsessivity taken. Our findings showed that greater autism severity predicted greater pain response which was partially mediated by anxiety and depression. These data suggest that mental health symptoms are important when considering pain response in autism. Mood must therefore be considered in future research on pain in ASD as well as clinical pain management.


Pain Autism ASD Clinical Mediation analysis 



This study was supported in part by The Royal Board on Disability (Ministry of Health and Social Policy, Spain) and The Social Policy Department (Regional Govern of Madrid, Spain). We especially appreciate the assistance of Carmen Muela and Marina Jodra with the administration and organization of the data set. Finally, we would like to thank the participants with autism spectrum disorder and their teachers who contributed to the development of the program and assisted with data collection.

Author Contributions

Dr. Garcia-Villamisar designed the study, conducted the statistical analysis, analyzed the data and participated in revising the manuscript and addressing the reviewers’ comments. Dr. Moore wrote the initial draft of the paper, assisted with manuscript development, provided guidance on statistical analysis, and participated in revising the manuscript and addressing the reviewers’ comments. Ms. Garcia-Martinez participated in the design of the study and addressing the reviewers’ comments.


Funding for this study was provided by The Royal Board On Disability. The Ministry of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare of Spain Grant #25. 2015.The funder had no role in the study design, collection, analysis or interpretation of the data, writing the manuscript, or the decision to submit the paper for publication.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Garcia-Villamisar
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • D. Moore
    • 2
    • 3
  • M. Garcia-Martínez
    • 1
  1. 1.Unit of Psychopathology, Department of Personality and Clinical PsychologyComplutense University of MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.Psychology Department, School of Natural Science and PsychologyLiverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK
  3. 3.Research Centre for Brain and BehaviourLiverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK
  4. 4.Asociación Nuevo HorizonteLas RozasSpain

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