View Full Version : Treatment for SPD, ADD, or both?

06-02-16, 05:19 PM
Like many others here, I have traits of adult ADD and am the quiet type; am very oversensitive to a lot of things, especially sound and light. Things like noisy offices, radios, and brightly-lit stores are usually torture to me.

That sensitivity to sound and light also seems to aggravate all of my issues struggling to regulate my attention or focus so much, that I'm often confused which traits are causing which. That is, do I have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), ADD/ADHD, or both?

I tend to not worry about what to label it most of the time. For as long as I can remember, I have just experienced it as one big, overwhelmingly muddled condition.

Except I think that SPD or ADD/ADHD distinction might not be so academic where treatment is concerned.

More to the point, has anybody here found a good treatment for ADD that doesn't make their sensory symptoms worse?

For instance, I tried going on a Vyvanse-prescription for about a year or two.

The Vyvanse seemed to work great at first. It helped me stay focused and on-task.

It was also my first ADD-prescription. It felt long overdue, like wearing corrective glasses for my brain.

But then it also made my sensitivity to sound and light much worse. Especially as it started to wear off through the day, the world of my senses just came crashing-in, even much louder and brighter than before.

My doctor tried moving me to different doses on Vyvanse. That saw some short-term successes. But it was ultimately no use. The way it was amping up my senses was just making it harder to focus, not easier.

Plus my amped-up senses were pushing me over the edge so much, it just made me terribly edgy and moody to be around.

To make a long story short, that impact Vyvanse was having on my already-tortured senses nearly costed me my marriage. So I quit Vyvanse.

Now I'm just trying out some alternative treatment to manage my ADD, such as by adding extra Omega-3 and protein to my diet, plus taking a lot of ginko, ginseng, B-complex, magnesium, and zinc for it. And I'm relying on things such as ear plugs, white noise, baseball caps, and sunglasses to manage my sensitivity to sound and light.

Almost a year later now, I seem to be doing much better overall with that strategy. It still gives me mental clarity most days. But in a much gentler way.

Except I still have a lot days where everything seems to just suddenly stop working unexpectedly. One moment, I'm fine. Then the next, I suddenly cannot think clearly enough to perform basic tasks at work, retain a single word I'm reading, or etc no matter what I do.

So that still leaves me wondering if there is a better treatment. Such as another prescription for ADD that won't amp-up my senses the way Vyvanse did for me.

I'm going to see my doctor about it again. But am also wondering, does anybody else have any insight or experience they can share about this here?

06-15-16, 04:21 PM
Sorry for starting this thread with such a long post above.

Anyway, a few days after I posted that, I saw my doctor. And he started me on a trial dosage of Concerta.

I had mixed feelings about having to go back on a prescription like that. But so far, even its trial dosage seems to be working better for me than just my alternative treatment alone was, when I was just self-medicating with ginseng & gingko, compensating with earplugs & sunglasses, & etc.

I'm still continuing that alternative treatment, too. Not to mention continuing everything else I'm doing to work on managing by ADD & sensory sensitivity better. All this is doing is just adding a low dosage of Concerta to the mix.

That's going better than I expected so far: Not only does it seem to be alleviating the mental crashes I was starting to have a lot of lately. But it has also surprised me by working the opposite of how I expected a stimulant would, versus my over-sensitivity to sound and light: Instead of aggravating it, it seems to just subtly give me an ability to choose what I want to pay attention to and 'tune-out' the rest. That's new to me. I'm usually not able to just tune-out distractions & return my focus where I want it to be like that. That's been a real relief.

Anyway, it may be too early to know how Concerta will affect me in the long-term or what dosage is ideal for me. But at least it seems to be a step in the right direction. I'll see how that goes from here.

06-17-16, 03:58 AM
I'm hypersensitive, and I take Adderall. I don't think the Adderall helps at all, but it doesn't seem to make it worse.

Glad to see the Concerta seems to be helping you. Why do you have mixed feelings about taking it?

Like you, my main tactic for dealing with this is to avoid the stimulation as much as possible. Ear plugs, sunglasses, avoid stores at the busy time of day, blinds shut, paper taped over the windows to block some of the light that still gets through the blinds....

Overtime, I've started to recognize overstimulation and learn what contributes to it--it's not just the annoying or painful stuff. And stimming (self-stimulation) seems to help relieve of stave off overstimulation to some degree.

Here's everything I've learned about the problem so far (, in case any of that's helpful. It's not much though. :(

That sensitivity to sound and light also seems to aggravate all of my issues struggling to regulate my attention or focus so much, that I'm often confused which traits are causing which. That is, do I have Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), ADD/ADHD, or both?
I've read that the reason SPD still isn't in the DSM is because opponents are convinced that people who have SPD actually just have undiagnosed ADHD or ASD... but the diagnostic criteria for ADHD doesn't mention those symptoms at all, and the diagnostic criteria for ASD only briefly mentions one aspect of it. Research into treating ASD and especially ADHD rarely bothers to acknowledge, measure, or treat sensory problems at all.... :mad:

Well, I think it's normal for everyone to have attention problems in chaotic stressful situations, and for ADHD people it will be even worse, but if you're hypersensitive, a lot of situations are chaotic and stressful even if they're not supposed to be....

07-07-16, 07:34 PM
Thanks for your reply, Cyllya. Sorry I didn't see it earlier. I've just been away from this forum for a few weeks.

I can relate to everything you said in your reply and in your blog which you linked here. It's a relief to find some kindred souls like you in this forum.

Same as you, I'd just go out of my mind if it wasn't for my sun glasses and ear plugs which I've learned to carry with me. Although I don't need them all the time, they're indispensible for whenever everything suddenly goes sideways for me, sensory-wise. In some situations, I just wear them preventatively. In a pinch, the earplugs also double as as distracting fidget toys I can keep my focus anchored to. Plus I usually keep a few other fidget toys handy such as a stress ball in my satchel. I also like how you call that strategy "stims" – I haven't seen it called that before, but it's a good way of putting it. Plus, the same as you, I've also learned it's better to just avoid places like big, bright boxstores when they're busiest around rush-hour and on weekends, etc. Those situations are just cognitive disasters-waiting-to-happen for me.

As for my mixed feelings about taking Concerta: That was mostly just bias against trying any further ADD/ADHD prescriptions after the rough side-effects I experienced on Vyvanse. But that could be just speaking from my very limited experience of ADD/ADHD prescriptions so far. That is, I didn't come to terms with the fact I have traits of ADD/ADHD until just a few years ago, when I was well into my 40's and my kid was diagnosed with it. I had always known something was a bit different about me before that. But Vyvanse was my first experience trying an ADD/ADHD prescription. Anway, that treatment started well, was mostly beneficial at first. But it ultimately proved to be a bad fit for me, just turned into a very rough and off-putting experience in the end when it started making my sensory issues worse. That being said, I don't regret taking it. Among other things, it was a leg-up cognitively for me for about a year, and it helped put into perspective how deeply involved my sensory issues are in my condition.

For your interest, Attitude Magazine's ADHD Experts Podcast also had an episode about SPD a week or two ago. I recommend listening to it if you haven't heard it yet. It's also a free download on iTunes. Some of it was a bit "nothing new here ... I already know that." But it also had some good parts to it that helped differentiate that as much as ADD/ADHD and SPD look the same from the outside and are sometimes co-morbid, they're not the same experience internally. I don't know what that's like for you. But it personally helped me to discern a bit better that I have traits of both.