So often parents will come to my office, and ask for advice about one of their children who just seems difficult, picky, and hard to soothe. Of course, there can be many reasons for this, but in recent years we’ve been hearing about something called “sensory integration disorder”. There are many variants of this sort of problem, but the basic idea that is that some people’s nervous systems seem to be wired a bit differently, and they become easily overwhelmed by what seems like “sensory overload” to them. They may have difficulty with too much sound, or with tactile sensitivity (think scratchy clothing labels, or waistbands that don’t feel right). They may be very sensitive to smells or tastes or textures, so that eating a balanced diet becomes a real problem. There are many examples of this, and a really great checklist, at Sensory-Processing-Disorder.com.
When adults come in with some of the same symptoms, they may have labelled themselves as anti-social, nervous, or even wonder if they’re a bit “crazy”. Once they hear about the concept of sensory issues, and the term “highly sensitive person”, it all starts to make more sense. Elaine Aron, Ph.D, coined the term, and the idea is beginning to catch on. You can read more about it, and view her checklists, on her website called “The Highly Sensitive Person”.
Psychology Today, in their most recent issue, has a great article about this. If I get a chance to link to it once it goes online, I will. Meanwhile, on another section of the website, they have a great post called “Top 10 Survival Tips for the Highly Sensitive Person”.
Odds are high that you know someone who fits this description. If so, pass the information along. They will most likely thank you for it!