View Full Version : ADHD and sensory issues

07-19-07, 08:16 PM
An estimated 20% of ADDErs have some kind of sensory issue(s). As common as it is, not a lot is known about it. Doctors barely acknowledge that ADDers have sensory problems, and not much is available in terms of treatment options.

Below is an abstract from a paper about adhd and sensory issues. Among other things they concluded that kids with ADHD do have a greater incidence of sensory dysfunction, and that it is quite variable. They also concluded that the degree of sensorymotor dysfunction is directly related to the degree of patholgy.


Sensory modulation dysfunction in children with attention-deficit–hyperactivity disorder
Shanley Donelan Mangeot PsyD a1, Lucy Jane Miller PhD OTR a2 c1, Daniel N McIntosh PhD a3, Jude McGrath-Clarke MA a4, Jody Simon PhD a4, Randi J Hagerman MD a5 and Edward Goldson MD a6
a1 Graduate School of Professional Psychology, University of Denver, USA.
a2 Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, USA.
a3 Department of Psychology, University of Denver, USA.
a4 Sensory Integration Treatment and Research (STAR) Center, The Children's Hospital, Denver, USA.
a5 University of California at Davis, Sacramento, CA, USA.
a6 Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado, USA.

This study investigates the presence of sensory modulation dysfunction (SMD) among children with attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Twenty-six children with ADHD (mean age 8.3 years, 18 males, 8 females), and 30 typically developing children (mean age 8.2 years, 21 males, 9 females) were tested using a laboratory procedure that gauges responses to repeated sensory stimulation by measuring electrodermal reactivity (EDR). Parental report measures of limitations in sensory, emotional, and attentional dimensions were administered using the Short Sensory Profile, the Leiter International Performance Scale–Revised, Parent Rating subscales, and the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Compared to the typical sample, the children with ADHD displayed greater abnormalities in sensory modulation on both physiological and parent-report measures. The children with ADHD also displayed more variability in responses. Within the group with ADHD, levels of SMD were highly correlated with measures of psychopathology on the CBCL. Implications of findings relate to the importance of considering sensory processing abilities in a subgroup of children with ADHD.
(Accepted December 6 2000)

c1 University of Colorado Health Sciences Center Research Office, 1901 W. Littleton Boulevard, Littleton, CO 80120, USA. E-mail:

07-19-07, 09:07 PM
That is an interesting study. Can you give an example of how our day to day activities might be actively affected by this? Might help me process the study a little more.


07-19-07, 09:25 PM
how about the effects of sensory overload when in a crowded mall?


07-19-07, 09:56 PM
Thanks, that is what I thought the article was getting at. Your example was more concise. More or less explains why I hated the casinos in vegas last fall. If it hadn't have been for my friends being there (and lets face it, a couple of drinks) I would have gone running out of there asap. :rolleyes: =^..^=

08-30-07, 10:59 AM
I'm new and I beleive that both me and my 5 year old son have SID.
This is my first post. I have APD (auditory) and my son I beleive has some SID issues. Still trying to get a DX.

He's also acting out just like the ADHD lists, but I prefer to beleive that its the SID issues that is the cause. NOT some so called "chemical imbalance in the brain". Dont need drugs - just OT.

But of course the drug companies wont tell anyone that info. They are just so greedy it makes my blood boil.

But the SID part. I have not been dxd but this is what I think I have going by everything I have read.

(I have read the following books - Out-of-sync child, what the brain cant hear, raising the sensory smart child. I have NOT yet read sensational kids)

Taste - I dont recall having any food sensory issues. I can eat spicy food quite frequently. But I dont like garlic - thats too strong. I do like eating hummus, falafel, and other mediterranean foods (trying to eat healthy). I also cannot stand the sight, smell, taste of cooked mushrooms. They literally make me sick. Picking Mushrooms straight out of the ground is fine.

Smell - I do have sensitive smell and can smell others BO and bad breath, I can also smell cigarette breath and alcohol breath as well. Both cigarettes & alcohol smells are revolting to me which is why I do NOT drink or smoke. I also detest the smell of coffee and I do not drink coffee. Dont much like the taste of tea either.

Lights - bright lights and car headlights do occasionally cause my eyes to hurt and actually give me headaches. I have to go to bed in a darkened room to sleep.

Walking - Every now and then I will trip over what seems like a flat sidewalk. I have scraped my hands lots of times, and even badly wrenched my right shoulder on one occasion as well. Bad enough that I had to take 1 week off work because I could not write or type. Could barely even dress myself, and could NOT lift my right arm above shoulder level (had major problems getting dressed). Once I tripped twice in the same week outside my local train station, both times on my way home from work. Very embarrassing.

Hearing - I was dxd as being hard of hearing when I was 4 or 5 because I didnt look at the book when the teacher was reading to the class. I looked at the teachers face. I was lip reading. I still have to lip read even now.

But if someone says something, and I didnt hear it clearly, I will ask them to repeat it. In the split second while they sigh and call me names in their mind, my brain fills in the gaps and I can repeat the sentence back. I used to repeat it out loud at the same time they are repeating, so then they would say "you did hear me, why did you ask me to repeat myself?".

Now if I ask people to repeat themselves, and I manage to fill in the gaps, I do NOT repeat what they said out loud, I just allow them to repeat their statement and then I say thank you.

This is a classic sign of auditory processing disorder - where you can hear what others say, but your brain does not process it fast enough.

This also means that if I mis-hear something, I can make a comment that interrupts the flow of the conversation and which makes things awkward. So I avoid social situations for this reason.
Small groups - no more than 3 people so I can lip read - is fine. Otherwise, in any large party social situation, I would prefer to find a quiet corner and sit down and READ!!!

Touch - I don't mind family touching me, but not acquaintances, colleagues & certainly not strangers. I have noticed that I dont like being "crowded". I dont like my tall (and heavy) 5 year old son leaning heavily on me which he does frequently. He is seeking touch, and I have to avoid it, because I cant stand him leaning heavily on me. I can hug him fine. I love hugging him.

In bed, I cant stand hubby touching me. I have to make sure that no part of me is touching any part of him. He moves a lot in bed - always turning over - and has restless legs syndrome as well. Sometimes this wakes me up and I cant go back to sleep. (I know - TMI sorry).

Space - I have a major fear of heights if I am standing on anything that is not SOLID - not (what I call) 'terra firma". I will not get on a horse or climb a tree, or even a ladder. I will not cross a rope or log bridge over a stream/river. I will not climb a cliff, I will not do any abseling, I wont even climb a "climbing wall" like you find in a gym or other exercise place. These are not what I call solid.

Being on the balcony on the 50th floor of a skyscraper or in an aeroplane or chopper are fine though. Despite the plane/chopper not being "terra firma"

My 5 year old son trips over a lot - especially at the playground. He refuses to make any meaningful eye contact with me. Always looking off to one side.

Has lots of energy and every day after daycare he HAS to go to the park to run off some energy before we go home. He crys if he doesnt get what he wants immediately & demands things right now, and does not understand "consequences".

He has poor muscle tone, and cant hang from bars or branches. Claims to always be tired from walking, but he's too heavy & big (4 feet & 80 pounds) for a stroller or a wagon. Drops things frequently - I think his hands have poor muscle tone. he dropped his popsicle yesterday and had a huge tantrum when I explained I couldnt get another one because I had run out of cash. Also has trouble holding pencil properly to write, cant catch balls very well.

Crowds - Crowds in a shopping mall dont bother me at all as long as I can avoid been pressed up against them. Same for in a bus or train. I do accept that this is often necessary in an elevator, but thats for only a very short time. Hubby OTOH detests being in a crowded mall , and prefers to go when the mall is not crowded.


08-30-07, 11:44 AM
Clothes - I forgot to mention that there are certain fabrics I cant stand next to my skin - scratchy wool & lace being two of them. I hate wearing anything tight & constricting such as tight pants/trousers or tight necked T-shirt and I HATE wearing that damn bra (dont know why we need to wear them - just because some men cant control themselves). Socks worn the right way on me are fine, although my son does ask to wear them inside out occasionally.

08-30-07, 08:09 PM

I'll get back to you tomorrow as I have limited time on the net today.

It seems we have similar issues sensory wise.


08-30-07, 11:09 PM
Sensory issues can cause a lot of anxiety and ADHD like symptoms as well, but don't ignore ADHD.

Since only 20% of ADDers have sensory issues it seems likely that sensory issues are not the cause of ADHD.

Me :D

09-03-07, 11:26 PM
He's also acting out just like the ADHD lists, but I prefer to beleive that its the SID issues that is the cause. NOT some so called "chemical imbalance in the brain". Dont need drugs - just OT.

But of course the drug companies wont tell anyone that info. They are just so greedy it makes my blood boil.

I find your post puzzling.

Are you saying ADHD is a "so called chemical imbalance in the brain"?
Are SID issues caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain? If not, what causes them?

What is it exactly you "don't need drugs" for?

What is OT? Occupational Therapy? How will that help? What will it help? The SID or the ADHD?

Drug companies won't tell anyone what info? How are they greedy?

09-09-07, 03:43 PM
I think I have a sensory issue.
I can not manage to have a photo taken of me with a flash. Its frustrating, EVERYTIME a flash goes of I close my eyes for that second. almost all photos of me are with my eyes closed or me looking in a totally different direction. even if the camera's have red eye reduction with multiple flashes I somehow still blink when the photot gets taken. I cant stand it and just cant find a way to keep my eys open. would this be a sensory issue? its very frustrating