The Forums Forums Emotional Journey Is It Just Me? high sensory sensitivity

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    #88206 |

    I was just wondering if anyone else had real problems with sensory stimuli as a child. I know that my mother read the book “The Difficult Child” and found it very helpful as it helped her deal with me (who would gag if given tapioca pudding, cover my ears if I heard metal scraping, and couldn’t even move if I wore certain fabrics). As an adult I also have real sensitivity to bright lights (they hurt!). I’ve heard something like “The highly sensitive person” but it sounds a little sketchy to me. However, I was wondering if this accompanied adhd, was normal, was just special, or was something with an entirely different dx. I also get ringing in my ears and light seems to fragment in my eyes or sometimes have a wide halo. I don’t know about the touch now … but, frankly, I almost never let people touch my skin and I’m usually awkward even with hugs.

    I hear ringing in my ears but it’s on and off and not usually very loud. I do know that when I was in college and it would get windy in spring the feeling of the wind on my pant legs and face and ears would nearly drive me insane (the urge would be *so* strong to scream and grip my ears and cower on the sidwalk. There were times where I walked covering my ears with my hands) and it would be difficult to motivate myself to go outside. Also, the noise of the wind in my ears was maddening, in addition to the feeling. I know I have a very sensitive nose and can often enough hear people talking on the other side of the house. Cafeterias used to drive me nuts, too many voices, and it would turn into one giant garble and I couldn’t understand what *anyone was saying*

    Back to my point; is this an ADHD thing or a different thing entirely?

    #92354 |

    I can relate to a few things you’ve said. Definately the ringing in the ears, light sensitivity (I also have blue eyes though), certain sounds drive me insane, soemtimes to tears- a dripping tap, humming and buzzing noises also are hard for me. My mother was looked at as being a bad mom, she use to have to hold me away from her when feeding, she said I did not want to be held at all, I hate being touched by other people but love hugging my son to death. I have a very sensitive nose, to the point I can smell things and it will drive me nuts, I also have very good taste buds (former chef). I have no idea if these things are an ADD thing, it would be interestign to see though.

    #92355 |

    Hey, sorry to hear your mom was looked at as being a bad mom. That must have been really hard for her. I am only snuggly with my mom and best friend. I think for me there has to be a very high level of emotional intimacy before I feel comfortable with touch, but I will hug my students and pat their shoulders because kids need that and I can’t be selfish.

    #92356 |

    Hi briochick,

    I’m not an expert but the things you mentioned sound like they are related to Autism, which as you probably know is a spectrum disorder. I wonder if there is/can be an overlap between Autism and ADD/ADHD? Perhaps try the section “asking the expert”on here.

    Good luck, let me know what you find out.

    #92357 |

    It sounds like some of the things you describe fit into what some people consider to be “sensory processing difficulties” and I don’t think the ‘experts’ know exactly what to make of this. I understand some people are lobbying for sensory processing disorder to be another diagnosis in the DSM V (coming out next year) but I think that is very unlikely due to the lack of research/evidence to provide a more scientific explanation of this issue that is described by many people. But you can google sensory integration dysfunction and similar terms to explore it a little bit more. There are many theories and therapies for this; I’d be interested to hear your perspective on some of them given your personal experience.

    All that aside, I’ve heard many accounts of people describing heightened sensory awareness to the point of it being intolerable/painful. Like Abbey said, it is described commonly in people with autism (Temple Grandin is well known for her descriptions of her own hypersensitivity to certain stimuli including hugging/touch and she regularly seeks out more calming types of sensory experiences- you can look up her “squeeze machine”).

    I personally think ADHD and hypersensitivity to certain things may definitely be related. When you have a brain that seems to pick up on everything going on around it, it makes sense that it would also be hypervigilant (overly sensitive) in terms of processing other sensory information as well. I find this in my own experience though not to the degree you describe but definitely to noise. I can’t imagine how tiring and difficult it must have been for you to endure some of those things you describe! How do you manage now?

    Also-I’m not sure if you saw a ringing in the ears forum posting a while ago that was linked with a certain ADHD medication.


    #92358 |

    Hmm interesting. I can definitely relate to the sensitivity to light, and certain sounds. I too get ringing in the ears but I think that’s a common experience among most people. “Tinnitus” is what it’s called if my memory serves me right. I find that I’m also very sensitive to temperature. I’ve had my thyroid checked and it’s in working order. Does anyone here find they sweat more than the average person. It could just be me, but perhaps it goes along with ADHD. One thing I can’t relate to though is the sensitivity to touch. I’m a very touchy feely kinda person. It makes me feel secure when you get a hug from someone you care about.

    The other things I find odd about myself, I love maps! I could stare at a map for hours. I love blueprints, or floor plans, and all their intricate details. And I have a real quirky habit of picking up pamphlets. I have to recycle pamphlets all the time. I’m an information junkie. Sitting in the doctors office, oh look pamphlets,sitting at Canadian Tire waiting for my car to be serviced, oh look pamphlets on car parts and why they need to be serviced! Wow I gotta have it. I know, it’s odd, a compulsion almost.

    Patte Rosebank
    #92359 |

    Oh, yeah. The sweats. I think I first got them as a side effect to the Effexor XR I’ve been on for the past 12 years. Oddly, though, now that I’m weaning off it and I’m down to only about 10 mg a day (from a high of 300 mg), I sweat just as much. God help me when I hit menopause in a few years’ time.

    I’m not terribly touchy-feely, but from a few of my closest friends, hugs are lovely. Hugs from my parents and relatives, on the other hand, are just something to be endured. But I’ll snuggle with a cat or a dog for hours. In fact, when I’m out at parties (which is very rarely), I’ll usually spend most of my time with the pets instead of the people. Jerome Howard (Curly, of the Three Stooges) was the same way. But in front of an audience, in the safety of a character or persona, we’re the wild, goofy, bouncing-off-the-walls ones. Go figure.

    I also have to read. A lot. And I can read in any direction, including upside-down and backwards. When I’m eating, or waiting, or even using the loo, I must read something to keep from going out of my mind with boredom. There’s a stack of vintage magazines in my bathroom. And I have nearly every volume of the “Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader” series—full of interesting, oddball stories & facts, which makes it ideal for the ADHD brain. I even contributed some bits to Volume 15 “The Ahh-Inspiring Bathroom Reader”, so my name is listed in the front as a contributor. And no, I am not Porter the Wonder Dog.

    A gem from that volume: “My life has no purpose, no direction, no meaning, and yet I’m happy. I can’t figure it out. What am I doing right?” – Charles M. Schulz

    I’d say, that the answer is, accepting that you’re special (and I don’t mean that in the “rides the short school bus” sense), and doing what makes you happy instead of catering to what you think others want you to do.

    #92360 |

    Hey I just came across this and thought you may find it helpful:

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