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ADD and Hypersensitivity:
Is There A Connection??

Follow Up Report by Mary Jane Johnson

It has been several months now since I reported on ADDand hypersensivity. Since that time I have heard from several ADD adultswho suffer some of the same symptoms. One person sent me an article entitled"Social and Emotional Issues of Adults with Sensory Defensiveness"from the Sensory Integration Newsletter published by The American OccupationalTherapy Assoc.

Many of these same hypersensitivities are mentioned in this article andI will quote from the article as well as what was shared by the readerswho wrote to me. Sensory Integration Newsletter states, "Adults withtactile defensiveness commonly report strong clothing preferences and avoidances,and aversions to clothes with tags, jewelry....may also feel uncomfortablewith wool or synthetic materials against the skin....and may be botheredby these aversions to an extreme degree....

"Along those same lines K. wrote in that, "I have to keep my shoestied tight on my feet... If they are not tight I get frustrated... I findthat I constantly re-tie my shoes as tight as possible, during the day."And D. relates, "I agree completely about the elastic... I also donot like sleeves, high collars, knee socks that fall down, tags on the insideof shirts, anything touching my skin that isn't soft or cottony, slackstoo tight in the crotch... I hate panty hose... I don't wear my coat inthe car, I have a nice thin vest with lots of pockets that I wear whileshopping.

"In regards to sensitivity to food textures M. shares, "My dadas a child couldn't stand different foods to touch, so my grandmother boughthim a compartmentalized plate... I had to do the same for my son... He stoppedpicking up wet finger foods or food that made his hands sticky... He wanteda different spoon or fork for each food... He wanted only bland soft foodsand to this day there are very few foods he likes... My taste is more sensitivethan the others in my family."D. says, "I am also a picky eater,but I love spicy food. I can't stand browned scrambled eggs and my friedeggs must be perfect."

When it comes to heat and cold sensitivity, M. writes, "If it getsaround 70 degrees I'm cold... That's why we live in the desert... my handsand feet seem to always have had poor circulation... My hands get cold insidegood leather gloves." K. states, "...especially cold... I needto dress and keep the house warm as soon as cool weather moves in... IfI didn't love New England so much I would probably live in a warm climateyear round.

"The remarks about hearing sensitivity includes: M., "clock inthe living room because he could hear it ticking all the way in his room...My son can sleep through noises but certain frequencies hurt or upset him...I travel with a Sears 'sleepmate' white noise machine. I can't sleep withoutmasking the noise. I annoy the heck out of my husband by my ability to hearthe TV at the other end of the house... I can't have a ticking clock inthe room where I sleep... My dad also has a noise machine.

" K., "...when trying to focus on things I can't filter out noises...While typing this letter I can hear water dripping in the next room, therefrigerator turning on and off, and a car engine idling outside."And D., "I enjoy loud music, but only when I feel like it. I thinkthat's why people think we are selfish at times."

Sensory Integration Newsletter reports, "Social events... puts theperson with defensiveness in an uncomfortable situation... Almost all subjectsdescribed the discomfort experienced when someone's touch takes them bysurprise... Many subjects describe shaking hands as unpleasant... When thetouch or hug from comes from behind, it's effect is multiplied because ofthe element of surprise... and many need to exert self-control to avoidstriking out at the person who touched them.

"M. shares, "I don't like being touched... even shaking handsis difficult... It's taken my husband years to learn how to touch me withoutprovoking a negative response... Touching my head or hair is a no no!"A twist on this particular hypersensitivity comes from D. who says, "Iam happy to say the hypersensitivity to touch, in the romantic sense, ismore often a plus than a minus." And K. adds, "I don't mind shakingsomeone's hand, but forget hugging... Whenever someone hugs me, I tenseup and my stomach gets tied up in knots... Being married my wife loves tobe touched... I get all tied up when she hugs me or wants to be hugged orheld... It tears me apart because I love my wife and yet for some reasonwant my space

"........"Most subjects described feeling uncomfortable in crowdedplaces such as crowded elevators, buses, or subways, restaurants, stores,malls... Shopping is difficult for them", states Sensory IntegrationNewsletter. K. agrees by saying, "I have difficulty going into elevators,and detest having to go to malls, food stores, sporting events, etc... Iget very overstimulated, overwhelmed and irritable until I'm free from crowdedareas." D. states, "I notice that claustrophobia is more evidentwhen I am somewhere I don't like to be, such as in a car on a trip of morethan an hour."In some individuals there seems to be a connection betweenhaving ADD and being hypersensitive, as these cases indicate.

I would be interested in hearing from others of you out there who experiencesome of the same symptoms. I want to thank M., K., and D. for writing andsharing their personal experiences with us. I welcome your comments! Ifyou would like to learn more about the ADDult Support Network, please senda self-addressed stamped business size envelope to 2620 Ivy Place, Toledo,Ohio 43613.

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