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
- Sticky floors, doorknobs, any type of “goo” that touches my skin. (I even refused to finger paint in nursery school).
- Any loud or unexpected noise. The worst offenders are lawn blowers, vacuum cleaners, noisy restaurants.
- Hearing a TV or radio when I’m not the one using it. Even worse: when two TVs are on in different rooms.
- Perfume. If someone at Macy’s tries to spray me, I glare and run. Better than punching them out!
- 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.
- Tight waistbands. Ok, let’s just get down to it: give me cotton or give me nothing at all.
- 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).
- Cold weather. Anything below 75 is cold weather. Living in Michigan is a sick joke.
- 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 http://spdfoundation.net ).
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 http://www.rachel-schneider.com and http://www.comingtosenses.blogspot.com .
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.
the corners of socks … HATE that.
Sunlight or computer glare … I have friends who wear sunglasses or caps inside.
Other people’s feet or fingers moving in circles & me seeing it in my periphery vision … husband – feet – & mother – fingers – do this. Ugh! Mum is doing it NOW!!
Being TICKLED … Tickling makes me feel pain. If it from behind, expect to feel PAIN from my impulsive elbow.
Judie G .
Gosh, Judie- those are good ones! I can relate but I had to laugh about the peripheral vision annoyances- so true!! Tell mum to STOP! 🙂
Judie – only someone with hypersensitivity or SPD would even know what you mean by the “corners of socks.” I have the exact same issue & people don’t even understand what I’m trying to describe. 🙂
Terry My wife and I went through you list of 15 things and we laughed so hard. I love the stringy vegitables the best. Thanks for the laugh. I dont believe I have this disorder, but one thing I hate is walking through the break room at work and smelling the food these inconsiderate people bring from home and put in the microwave. It fould up the air and I hate the smell of other peoples food. Ughhhh
Thanks, Tom! Speaking of food odors, I hear a lot of people saying they cannot tolerate mouth noises. Chewing, etc.
Hi, I am so lad to read this. I was recently diagnosised with ADD at 59 yrs old. I have always wondered why when I touched certain types of fabric I would just shutter, get the creepy crawlies. Then if my fingers were really dry (which they often are) the fabric would stick to my hand and I would just go nuts!! Also certain sounds really bother me. One example being, I was in Mexico for the first time a few years ago. Beautiful view, little cottage on the beach, just wonderful. I went to bed that nite and couldn’t sleep because the noise from the waves coming in just drove me crazy! I closed the windows but then it became too hot. Opened the windows and it was like the ocean was right in the room. I couldn’t sleep that nite or the rest of the vacation.
I just wanted to turn the volume down a little bit and I couldn’t. Now loud music while I’m driving I like as long as its music I enjoy. Also smells really bother me. I seem to smell things others might not to the same intensity. This came in handy when one of my kids came home during high school after a party. He tried to tell me he hand not been drinking. While he was not drunk but it was obvious to me he had been. Even though it was a slight smell.
Having a sharp sense of smell is great when you have teenagers! But I”m sorry about the lost Mexican vacation. Do you think earplugs would have helped?
OK not every single one on here is me but my gosh! I’m sooooo relieved to have found this site…. I can more than relate to 90% of them. I didn’t even know sensory was a thing with ADD but now it makes perfect sense my entire life I’ve struggled with weird stuff like this and I thought I was crazy!
So glad you found me, too! Yes, sensory issues are very commonly seen in ADHD. If you’d like to read more about ADHD in women, please sign up for my newsletter- it only comes out twice a month: