She has a medical-identification tag that she clips to a silicone wristband — she has eight in different colors, which she mixes and matches with her wardrobe. On the back of the tag it reads, “Cannot feel pain — sweats minimally.
Staud wondered what Ashlyn would be like as she became an older teenager, if she would begin to disobey her parents and what the implications might be for her health. “We know very little about this in the long term,” he said. “How will she be emotionally? How will she evolve?” We sometimes experience emotional pain physically — Staud used the tried-and-true example of heartbreak, how the end of a romance can cause a physical pain — and he wondered if the relationship between the body and emotions also goes the other way; if a person lacks the ability to feel physical pain, is her emotional development somehow stunted? “It’s completely possible that some pain fibers work in her,” Staud said of Ashlyn. “That’s one of the reasons we follow her. She is going into a hormonal change now. Puberty. Estrogen receptors are associated with pain processing. Will she have fear? She is only threatened by emotional consequences. She is an easygoing girl, and she has parents who have learned how to influence her without additional means of physical contact.” He paused and then added, “I don’t think she cries very much.
Justin Heckert, The Hazards of Growing Up Painlessly - Ashlyn Blocker, the Girl Who Feels No Pain, for the NYT, November 2012.