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Highly Sensitive Children


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I know several of you have highly sensitive children. What traits do they have? Can you share how you've helped them cope with this?


Although I know that it is one sign of giftedness, I didn't see my dd as having much of this trait. She was a happy, even-keeled baby who rarely cried. However, now I think that she really is highly sensitive and perhaps that is causing some of her current issues. I just took a test on this website that put her into the highly sensitive category. Now what?


Have any of you read this book: The Highly Sensitive Child? Is it worth buying? Any other resources or suggestions?

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I have one who is definitely highly sensitive. So much so that it interferes with normal life functioning. We finally took him for an evaluation in January. Previously we had hoped that he would "grow out of it". He has been diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder. BTW he was a happy baby who seldom cried as well. He is now in Occupational Therapy, we are hoping that this will help him deal with some of the more pronounced issues. It's too early to tell at this point.


His traits include but are not limited to...

A strong aversion to clothing, noise and light.

A deep need to bounce, spin and crash into things.

A inability to control his volume (often speaking or crying loudly while covering his ears at the sound of his own voice).

A need to chew and bite things.

A desire for deep pressure.

Difficulty falling to sleep at night.

Difficulty focusing of tasks due to (visual) distractions in surroundings.

Acute attention to details.

Difficulty "settling down"

Immaturity in behavior, but not in intellect

Fine Motor Delays

A complete disregard to personal safety


I have another child who is the complete opposite. We have not yet had him evaluated. But he is definitely sensitive to other stimuli.


His traits include:

A need to be clean

A need to have clothes, environment, and self "perfect"

A need to remove all physical distractions from clothes (tags, seems, etc)

Can not stand to be touched (even in infancy)

Difficulty falling to sleep at night.

Difficulty focusing on tasks due to (auditory) distractions in surroundings.

Difficulty "reeving up"

Immaturity in emotions

Gross Motor Delays

An overemphasis on personal safety

Must be prodded into action yet is very fidgety

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All of my children exhibit different forms of extreme sensitivity. Most of which were listed nitascool. I will definitely look into this book. My borther's children seem to be highly sentisitve as well. They thought their daughter was sick (diabetic or epileptic) and their son deaf or autistic. But they were tested and found nothing physically wrong. Thye are extremely sensitive tolots of noise and lights and crowds.

It must be a genetic thing. I myself am sensitive to being touched. My dh is very affectionate and I often have to force myself to relax. (I notice that my youngest hates having her feet touched. I have a hard time cutting those toe nails!) Some of us are sensitvie to light. I always thught it was due to having blue eyes, but my dh can never have too much light. He calls me mole woman! (As I sit here at the computer in a totally dark house.)

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I really liked The Highly Sensitive Child. There is also a companion book, I think by the same author, for adults. It was reassuring to know that there are others out there with sensitivity issues and that my son (and I) aren't weird, well, at least not because of that! :o)

I did find out through that book that we aren't as highly sensitive as I thought and that there are ways to cope with the issues that arise. For us, that has meant having earplugs on hand for Huck so that he is more comfortable with loud crowds and respecting his desires to be mostly touch free especially around other relatives and friends. Also, to really enjoy when he does sit on his dad's lap because it shows how far he has come.

I definitely recommend the book. I think the only thing I disagreed with was that the book seemed to emphasize catering to highly sensitive kids. While I think this is sometimes a necessity, we decided that for our son, we didn't want to cater to his sensitivities all the time. There are times when he has learn to deal with things that make him uncomfortable. I think we take the middle path on that one.


Good luck!

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You know, I never really thought about my children being highly sensitive until I read this post (and the information included). I apparently have 3 out of 4 (perhaps the 4th, but she doesn't seem to be YET). They do come by it naturally, as I easilly fit into that category as a child too (still can't stand the bright light or loud noises... I still keep the tv to the lowest possible setting to hear the conversation -- and don't startle me or you may get your fright!


Guess I have a new book to purchase!

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I didn't think of dd as highly sensitive either because I've read the posts on this board about so many extremely sensitive kids. DD isn't that extreme or I think I would have figured it out before now. Touch isn't much of a problem with her--sometimes she will complain that something is too scratchy,etc., but she has dry skin, so I blamed that. She can't stand hair dryers and vacuum cleaners, but I put that down to being a wimp. :o She has always been very sensitive to any violence and to any visual creepy stuff.


Now that I've been a little more sensitized :D to this subject, I can see more and more ways that she fits the description.


I'm going to get the book out of the library first and see what else it has to say.

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This book sits right next to my Bible, and has been a God-send to me. What I think Dr. Aron does best is to challenge us to embrace the trait for the positive thing that it is. Her motto is "To have an exceptional child you must be willing to have an exceptional child."


I was struggling to parent my HSC's (especially my oldest), even though I am a highly sensitive person myself. Dr. Aron's book not only gave me the tools and encouragement to be a better parent to my children, but also gave me a better understanding of myself and the validation I needed to finally feel at peace with who I am.


My library has a copy of this book, so if you're not sure you want to purchase it, try your library first. I'm almost positive, though, that you will want a copy for yourself. Feel free to email me anytime if you want to chat more about the subject.



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I have highly sensitive children, and am that way myself in some areas. Aside from book suggestions given here, I find that good sleep and the right diet has helped, too. In our case, it was an Elisa test that helped dd. My ds gets more emotionally sensitive when he eats gluten, especially wheat. fwiw, not all of mine were highly sensitive babies, either, or at least not compared to my first!

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Just adding my two cents.


My daughter had some issues with walking. They termed her as mild Sensory Integration Disorder/Dysfunction...some phys.therapy helped and she walked at 15 mos. Meanwhile, I noticed some SID traits but nothing major...she more falls into the HSP category. As do I, I realized after taking their online tests. I haven't read the book but will be getting it. Again, we seem to be very mild cases..or is it that we've learned to navigate the world?? For us it seems to be overload of conversation/lights/people. We need lots of down time.

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He's not allergic, just very sensitive to food textures and won't eat many foods. It's so frustrating.


I actually just wanted to share one thing that's been a lifesaver to us. It's Striderite "seamless" socks. We buy them online and they are the only ones my ds will wear. Turning the socks you do have inside out is a last resort option. My son won't even do that anymore.


I used to yell at him about his clothing & food sensitivities because I didn't understand -- I just thought he was being a diva. Now I understand that wearing regular socks is truly awful for him. He inherited this stuff from my sister, not me. She was punished frequently for her "pickiness" about clothing. There was only one brand of dress she would wear, so eventually my parents gave in and just bought one in every color. Unfortunately for me, I had to wear them as hand-me-downs and I thought they were hideous.


Sorry not to be more helpful. Also, I have noticed that many "sensitive" children are also blessed with high visual-spatial intelligence. It appears to be associated genetically somehow. I learned this on Hoagie's website, and have noticed it among my son's good friends.

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Sorry not to be more helpful. Also, I have noticed that many "sensitive" children are also blessed with high visual-spatial intelligence. It appears to be associated genetically somehow. I learned this on Hoagie's website, and have noticed it among my son's good friends.


I like that theory because it fits with our family:).

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This is my first day back on these boards after vacation last week. We were on a cruise. It was wonderful, but I still feel the movement of the ship.


I see that the book is on hold for me at the library, so I will read it this week. I had never heard of it, but it sounds like it has some great information.


I used to yell at him about his clothing & food sensitivities because I didn't understand -- I just thought he was being a diva.


Also, I have noticed that many "sensitive" children are also blessed with high visual-spatial intelligence. It appears to be associated genetically somehow. I learned this on Hoagie's website, and have noticed it among my son's good friends.


I'm curious about the genetic aspect. My dd is nearly exactly like my dh--very auditory (not very visual), very sequential and highly intelligent. However, dh is NOT sensitive at all and doesn't understand dd's sensitivity. I'm highly visual-spacial, very random and somewhat sensitive, but even tempered. I understand dd's sensitivity better, but I also tend to consider much of it a diva, only-child trait.


Thanks for the great conversation. I'll be curious to see what some of you think of the book after you've read it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Because of this thread, I put HSC on hold at the library, not because my dc are particularly sensitive--they're a little young to tell, I think--but just because I'm interested in that sort of thing & low on reading material at the moment.


Oh, my. I had no idea! I answered all of the 22 Qs on the questionnaire as a strong yes. You have no idea how comforting it is to know I'm not nuts or creating difficult situations on purpose, etc.


What's more, though, I've begun reading notes on the adult version of the book online, & I recognized my dad, w/ whom I had a *very* difficult relationship. We finally came to a kind of peace once I was married (& he was remarried) & our spouses helped us to see that part of our problem was how much we're alike.


But reading about HSPs was amazing! My dad died 2 yrs ago, having lived a very sad life. I've known that I struggle w many of the same issues he does, & I'm working to *achieve* things, peace esp, w my life. Reading this book (what I've read thus far)...has been incredible. Sad, too, as I wish he could have read it, been helped by it.


And if my dc do turn out to be HS, which I think is likely, I'll know that being that way myself doesn't nec mean they'll be ok. I did think that before realizing my dad was the same way. Now I'm feeling quite cautious, which is probably good in the long run.


Anyway, thank you again. I don't know how I stumbled across this thread in the 1st place, but I'm glad I did.

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And I am. And my sisters. And their children. And my husband. Fortunately, my parents both are, too, and so for us, the child-raising part comes pretty naturally. Ever since my first baby was born, my mother has been telling me things like, "You'll probably want to use the baby undershirts that snap at the side because the ones that pull over the head make babies think they are suffocating." We do things a bit differently. And we don't have to worry about whether this is normal. We know perfectly well our family is different, and that is normal for us. I've been calling it high strung on this board, since the label "highly sensitive" hadn't shown up yet. My sister recently read the book and said it was pretty good. I know what to do for our family children, but I think a lot of what you do depends on your particular children. Some things my family does/has done are:


No tv in the house. Way too scary and depressing, even for the adults. Only very carefully selected videos.


Everyone watches their tone of voice very carefully.


No news in front of the children. Children aren't sheltered from the problems of their immediate world (real problems), but they are very much sheltered from problems in the greater world which come to them via some non-real means, like print or video.


Everyone's way of escaping from the world is carefully guarded and respected. Often this is books, but sometimes it is something else. Everyone is encouraged to escape only at appropriate times.


Everyone is taught ways to get rid of emotions, like sports, dance, music, writing, and art, and encouraged to use them when overwhelmed.


Everyone understands that social contact outside the family is tiring and may not be something children do comfortably until they are older. It is assumed that if you might not happen to find people before college that you like, and that this doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you, just that other people are often rather beastly as children.


Self-control is considered extremely important. In a family of sensitive people, even having a two-year-old yell at you is distressing. Children are made well aware that they can hurt their parents' feelings and that they shouldn't.


If it is something easy to modify and keep modifying as an adult (like cutting the tags out of clothing), it is done. If it is a modification that is going to be hard to carry out as an adult (like not cutting finger and toe nails), then the adults sympathize, but tell the child they just have to do it anyway.


Nobody is made to eat things they can't bear. Or put things in their heads they can't bear (like reading stories) because that is forever.


Everyone, adults too, is given lots of warning before any change.


And then there are a whole slew of things like counting to 10 before you speak, using cotton clothing, putting the jacket on the child after you get outside, etc., that help daily life. Those are more individual, though.


Hope this helps someone. : )


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This whole discussion has been so helpful! Thank you so much. I've read much of the book now and though everything doesn't apply, there have been several items where I have to smile because "that's my girl!" All of the issues that we have been dealing with lately fit pretty well with what I read. I think I need to place more blame for her emotional issues on our move even though I thought that she had adjusted well.



I think I've had enough introspection for a while :chillpill:.... time to think about gardening! :001_smile:

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DD 4.5 is an advanced learner but very emotional and still working on potty training, although she's really improved on the latter. She is baffling.


Actually my husband is very sensative to light and sound, but he has physical eye problems that account for the light sensativity so I never made that connection. I've bought 2 different gymnastic leotards for my daughter and she won't wear either because they are "itchy". She complains about the sheets being cold and will start screaming because she doesn't like her hair. Its tempting to send her to her room when she is difficult, but sometimes it works better to just pick her up and hold her untill she calms down.

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  • 2 months later...
Guest Jill in Monroe

I see that this thread finished up a few months ago, but I just had a conversation about HS kids today. My dd10 had just been sternly corrected (by me) when she began her "I hate myself" routine. This bothers me so much! I don't want her to hate herself and am of course very worried about the upcoming teen years if she already feels so guilty about disappointing me. She is also exhibiting some self-abuse when she's done something wrong, like banging her head against the wall (while sitting down), or slapping herself on the thigh. How worrisome! It makes me so sad to see her treating herself so poorly and believing (what I believe) a lie about herself.


Are these typical traits of a Highly Sensitive Child? She's different from some others in that she loves physical contact. Craves to snuggle with me and loves to give physical touch to others as well (back rubs, etc.). She's above average intellectually, but slow emotionally and socially.


How can I better parent her? Any advice from those of you who've 'been there' would be highly appreciated!




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