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Terry’s Top 15 Sensory Nightmares

Posted on June 29, 2015



I’ve written a number of articles and posts in the past about my hypersensitivities. I never knew (before my ADD diagnosis), that this is commonly seen in kids and adults with ADD. I’ll write more about what this is actually about, but first…

Here are some sensory experiences that push me over the edge to the point of wanting to scream or move to a quiet cave. Do you share any of these quirky sensitivities?


Terry’s Top 15 Sensory Nightmares


  1. Sticky floors, doorknobs, any type of “goo” that touches my skin. (I even refused to finger paint in nursery school).
  1. Any loud or unexpected noise. The worst offenders are lawn blowers, vacuum cleaners, noisy restaurants.
  2. Hearing a TV or radio when I’m not the one using it. Even worse: when two TVs are on in different rooms.
  1. Perfume. If someone at Macy’s tries to spray me, I glare and run. Better than punching them out!
  1. Scratchy fabrics. Forbidden in my closet. I also hate wrinkles on my sheets or feeling strangled in a bed that’s been made up too tightly.
  1. Tight waistbands. Ok, let’s just get down to it: give me cotton or give me nothing at all.
  1. Tight shoes/heels. Shoot me if I inadvertently put on uncomfortable shoes when I’ve already left the house and can’t turn back. (note to self: time to de-clutter closet).
  1. Cold weather. Anything below 75 is cold weather. Living in Michigan is a sick joke.
  2. Smelling bacon or other strong odors when I’m waking up in the morning. Gag.

     10. Stringy vegetables. God help me if I find corn silk strings or peapod strings in my mouth. Oranges are out of the


     11. Speaking of mouths, dental appointments are nightmares, even if it’s just a simple cleaning.

    12. Getting caught in the rain. I HATE the sensation of splattered water on my face and that cold, drenched feeling in


    13. Massages. They hurt, no matter how gentle they are. They hurt. But a scalp massage is wonderful.

    14. Repetitive noises, like a faucet dripping or clock ticking. Ok, just shoot me and put me out of my misery over this                  one.

    15. Amusement park rides, sitting in the back seat of cars, flying…anything that makes me move without my consent.


Goodness! Is it any wonder that people who feel assaulted by normal sounds, textures, etc., would become anxious and/or depressed? Daily living situations can be torture when you are sensitive to certain kinds of textures, lights, smells, noise, etc.

Ok, so this is just a small sample of what bothers me. But what is this all about? I used to think it was simply having an ADD brain that can’t filter out sensory experiences, but I’ve since learned that there’s another explanation for all of this, and it’s called:

Sensory Processing Disorder

“…a condition that exists when sensory signals don’t get organized into appropriate responses…One person with SPD may over-respond to sensation and find clothing, physical contact, light, sound, food, or other sensory input to be unbearable. Another might under-respond and show little or no reaction to stimulation, even pain or extreme hot and cold.”

(Read more about Sensory Processing Disorder at The SPD Foundation at ).

Though much is written about children with Sensory Processing Disorder, there is sparse literature that discusses SPD in adults. What we do know is that there is commonly an overlap in ADHD and SPD.

I recently met (virtually) an extraordinary woman who is working hard to change all that. Rachel Schneider, M.A., a psychotherapist and adult with SPD, writes about SPD in adults extensively. Check out her website and blog at and .

If you’re short on time, then definitely read her article, “10 Tips to Help Neurotypicals Understand Sensory Processing Disorder” .

So…what does all of this mean to you?

If you feel constantly bombarded by the things described above and in the articles, maybe you should begin to explore the possibility of having SPD. It could be part of your ADHD, an explanation for your anxiety or depression, or as Rachel told me recently in a phone conversation, something that might “look” like ADHD but not “be” ADHD. In her work, she’s found many adults with anxiety, panic disorder, ADHD, etc. who really are battling SPD.

One way to find out if this is true for you is by searching for an occupational therapist that understands SPD in adults (unfortunately, they are hard to find!). The links above will give you more information about how SPD is treated.

In the meantime, I’ve addressed hypersensitivities in my book, The Queen of Distraction- in fact, I’ve devoted an entire chapter to it, though it doesn’t discuss SPD specifically, as I’m just learning more about this myself.

Just know that you aren’t alone if you avoid loud concerts, parties, malls, certain types of clothing, food and more. Currently, our understanding of SPD in adults is where we were years ago when learning about ADHD in adults. In time, more will be understood and hopefully, treatments to help those of you/us with these hypersensitivities, will be more available.

How about you? What makes your skin crawl? What sounds drive you over the edge? Share your experiences in the Comment section below.



5 Steps to Keep Your Sanity This ADD Summer

Posted on June 13, 2015



We look forward to the summers when schedules change, often giving us and our kids more time to relax and unwind from the stress of the school year. Many of us book annual family vacations and/or enroll our kids in camp and gratefully we find ourselves with less structured days with more free time on our hands.

A time to rejoice, right?

Well, no- not always.

My personal experience has been that shifting schedules, for myself and/or my daughter, often leads to a semi panic attack, even if the changes are positive ones. Why?

Folks with ADHD thrive on structure; it’s how we get things done with less anxiety. It offers our brain a road map for getting from A to B. Lack of structure can make us feel like we’re floating in a black pit of scatter- checking emails too often, daydreaming, and just getting off track in general.

No more 7am breakfasts and “beat the bus” schedules. No more firm 8:30pm bedtimes and 4:00 homework sessions. No more M W F soccer practice.

What a relief, right?


For many with ADD, this transition into summer can be almost as stressful as the school year. We’ve forgotten to sign our kids up for camp or basketball school and are horrified that our kids will be sitting home all summer in front of the TV. We then realize that we’re trapped without a babysitter and wonder how we’re going to get to work.

This is fun?? What’s a mom with ADD to do?


5 Steps to Keep Your Sanity This ADD Summer


  1. Try to keep bedtime schedules the same for now, and gradually allow for later bedtimes and wake times. This will ease their internal clocks into the new routine and help to avoid crankiness and sleep disturbance. Still…keep them on some sort of a sleep schedule if at all possible.
  1. Start searching NOW for structured activities for the kids: swim class, camp, volunteer work, etc. Too much unstructured free time for kids (and adults) with ADHD can create stress. You may find some acting out, as kids will search for stimuli and often not the good kind!
  1. Engage the entire family with summer planning. If a vacation is on the horizon, discuss ahead of time where you’ll be going and what everyone will be doing. When you open this up to the kids, they will appreciate the chance to participate in the planning, thus avoiding arguments or tantrums. If a trip is not possible, talk to your kids to see what they’d like to do with their free time. Find compromises so that everyone is happy.
  1. Be aware that change is hard for you and your child. Try to prepare the kids ahead of time so they have time to acclimate. If family is coming to visit next month, don’t wait until the day before to discuss it and how it will affect schedules, sleeping arrangements, etc.
  1. Don’t forget YOUR needs. As moms, we are always working at setting up schedules, meals, entertaining, holidays and much more. Maybe this is the summer YOU spend time away by booking a weekend away with girlfriends. There’s nothing wrong with going solo- finding a B & B in a cute town, giving you a chance to have leisurely mornings while exploring shops and attractions.

What about you? What can you do to get away and re-charge your batteries or explore your interests and talents? Share your ideas in the Comment section below.



Organizing Myths and ADHD

Posted on June 01, 2015

Organizing myths


Do you like to travel but hate and I mean, really really hate preparing for trips? I’m leaving town in a few days and generally, it takes me a week to get it all together: choosing outfits, making sure everything is taken care of while I’m away, then the actual packing. Ugh. So instead of writing my bi-weekly blog, I’m instead going to share with you two articles from that quoted me heavily. They’re about organizing myths and ADHD. Isn’t that a hoot? Here I am, all flustered as I try and get myself ready, and yet, I can quote boldly all kinds of helpful tips. Ready or not, check them out below.  Now where’s my umbrella….?


 ADHD and Adults: 3 Myths About Getting Organized


Below, ADHD experts set the record straight on three stubborn myths about organizing — and what works instead.

1. Myth: You should handle paper only once.

Fact: “I cannot count how many times I’ve read or heard about this so-called life-saver of a technique for getting and keeping things organized,” said Terry Matlen, MSW, ACSW, a psychotherapist and ADHD coach.

Continue reading HERE

3 More Myths About Organizing for Adults with ADHD


Recently, we shared several common myths about organizing when you have ADHD. The problem with myths is that they stall your progress and steer you in the wrong direction. You might wonder why a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t working for you. And you might resign yourself to believing that you’ll never get organized.

But as an adult with ADHD, you may need to try different strategies and approaches. You may need to switch up strategies more often because the novelty wears off.

Below, ADHD experts share three more organizing myths along with what does work.

1. Myth: You’d be organized with the right storage.

Fact: “Magazine articles [rave] about the fabulous storage containers you have to have if you want to get organized,” said Dana Rayburn. Rayburn is a certified ADHD coach with group and private coaching programs. She helps guide ADHD business owners and professionals to get organized and manage time so they can live more successful and effortless lives.

Continue reading HERE

What’s your take on ADD and organizing? Share your thoughts (and tips!) below.