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Readers Respond: ADHD and Sensitivities

Responses: 55


Updated May 12, 2010

Loud Noises

I am 52 years old and last year I was diagnosed with ADHD. Noises drive me up the wall. Loud vehicles make me cringe and especially the cars with the loud noises banging away. I want to get out of my car and smash in their windshield. Now I wear ear plugs while driving and walking outside. Tags on clothes make me nuts. If I put on new clothes and forget to cut off the tags and I have already left the house and feel the scratching; I will rip the tag off along with ripping my shirt. One time I took off my shirt in the car since the tag bothered me so much and I couldn’t get the tag off. I have to remove every single bit off the tag, even in the seam part. I can't stand to feel mesh. It gives me such a creepy feeling and it makes my hands curl up. I am always late for everything, and am disorganized. I can't concentrate if people are talking around me. My fan is on 24-7. It drones out other noises and comforts me. I miss words when writing, very frustrating.

Sound Sucks

I am 19 with ADD, and living in a college dorm. Sound has always upset me but it has gotten worse. My roommate plays loud music, singing aloud and his iPhone clicking sound sends me over the edge. Sound has really become an issue.
—Guest College M

hyper sensitive to comments/criticism

I never know whether to attribute this to my ADD or depression (I normally tell people depression. Its simpler), but I am incredibly sensitive to negative comments and criticism, especially if I'm already emotionally vulnerable (which can be from being tired, had a bad day, forgot my meds, not feeling well, hungry, etc...). I once was dancing with my boyfriend and he asked me to adjust my arms because it was uncomfortable. I broke down in tears! I've never noticed physical sensitivities, other than obsessive compulsive-like ones (I can't stand having socks falling down or having the waist band of my pants lower than the waist band of my underwear). I always figured my "OCT" (obsessive compulsive tendencies-my doctor says it's only a disorder if it interferes with your life :P) was developed as a coping mechanism for the ADD.
—Guest Wendy

Social Events - Exhausting!

As an ADHD-er who was diagnosed later in life I find so much comfort in articles and blogs like the one above. Prior to my diagnosis (4 years ago - now 41), I had looked at the things people did regularly (shop, concerts/loud venues) as a social event (mostly done to appease friends) - as a chore, where I would sit quietly for hours after and have a couple of beers to shake it off. I used to wonder why people enjoyed such things so much. There is so much I feel I would like to say on this subject, but would mostly like to express my gratitude for the input from the writers above.


I identify with almost all the sharing. I am now 71 years old. I have developed coping skills but really worn out with them so I started ADHD medications 6 years ago. What a blessing. I remember as a 5 year old walking to school promising myself I would not get into trouble. What a burden for a 5 year old and always a failure. Getting my work done 1st as well as accurate was a curse. I would then annoy my neighbors. At any rate, my sound sensitivity is horrible and many times it makes me so nervous that I want to cry. I feel the adrenalin is coming out the top of my head. My mother and two of my three sons have the same problem. I have read research that is showing it is similar to what autistic children suffer. It is especially difficult in this age as so many people have no regard for being on time and late being loud and disruptive. And when I said something about the importance of punctuality I was told to "FOCUS." Any ideas other than staying home?
—Guest Jocelyn Fedak

Mother of teenager with ADHD

My son has been diagnosed with ADHD since kindergarten, but it isn't until recently that he has shown a more emotional sensitivity. I'm not sure if it has been brought on by his father's death last year, but in the past, he has been able to handle the verbal bullying at school. However, this year, he's already gotten a day in ISS for saying bull sh** under stress. Yesterday, he came home saying all the noise in the cafeteria was too much. At his school, the students are stuck in the cafeteria during lunch. They aren't allowed to leave until time for class. At home, the sounds don't seems to bother him, and he wants to do "virtual learning" from home. I'm at a loss of what to do.

Symptoms Interfere with Life

I am very familiar with the experiences described on this site. I struggled all of my life, and was diagnosed at age 51. I cannot concentrate with background sounds, and it angers me when people have conversations near me at these times. In relationships, I am accused of not being interested in what is said to me, and being self absorbed and selfish. Details told to me do not make an impression, and I don't remember them. I intensely fear being criticized, am error prone, particularly spelling, and check my work several times, requiring much more time. I hyperfocus to meet deadlines and become obsessive, ignoring biological needs to the detriment of my health. On routine tasks, distraction from thoughts causes me to forget what I just did. I overreact to expressions of love in films, causing uncontrollable tearing. One trait may be an advantage. I am sensitive and intuitive about the emotions of others. This might help, if I had a job where this was useful. Drugs are no help to me.
—Guest Misjudged by Others


We adopted our granddaughter when she was 3. She was so different than our other children. She had a big issue with socks. Finally we started putting her socks on wrong side out and that helped tremendously. She is alarmed by loud noises and startles easily. She will graduate from high school next year and is a lovely young woman. She has been on Concerta for many years and the first day she started her meds, there was an immediate difference.
—Guest Bonnie


I am a little emotionally sensitive in the sense that I am very empathetic. I feel how those around me are feeling. Also my skin is quite oversensitive. Certain things can be overwhelming. It’s not always bad, but it's hard to explain. I tend to curl up some or lay down if I'm not already. Not too often that it's bad. I love being touched. I'm super touchy and cuddly. Light caressing can be enough for me to fall off a couch because I just melt. Things that are normally pleasurable are extremely pleasurable for me and same with unpleasurable things though. I can't stand it if my clothes are wet or lotion is on my skin. Especially mud. I am quite sensitive to music, as well. It affects me emotionally a lot. So naturally with my musical tastes I love raves. So, highs=higher, lows=lower...
—Guest Vinny

I thought I knew..wow!

I was diagnosed with ADD a few years ago when I'd reached a point in my life that I couldn't seem to get past personal quirks and hang ups. I always hated socks b/c of the seam, tags irritated me then but I don't notice them now, I hate the TV being on all day - the noise grates! When someone disturbs my train of thought I get very angry. I'm also very sensitive to criticism. A woman at work was impatient in a group email so I went to the ladies room and cried. I hate being touched. Not so much when I was married, but anyone else -- forget it. I cannot be on my feet long as they ache tremendously (it's how I found this thread, looking for help for my feet). I noticed recently that when my son (6, also clearly ADD) bumps my foot, it jerks dramatically and involuntarily away. Even when I know he's going to bump me and I try to control my foot...it still flinches. I also sleep w/ a fan on 365 days a year. I think this is all very incredible. Thank you for sharing your stories!!
—Guest Greenly

Explains a lot!

My daughter was diagnosed a year ago with ADHD at the age of 7. Lately, her sensitivies have been getting a lot worse. She hates the radio in the car being on, won't wear certain clothes because they "just don't feel right". She doesn't like bright lights being on so we are constantly changing the light bulbs to low light or sitting in the dark, she doesn't like the TV being on loud so she turns it down but then sits right in front of it because she can't hear it. She also has a blanket that she carries with her at home and she has ONE specific corner that she is constantly playing with. She's always upsetting her sister and then she starts crying and blames it on her sister. I never realized her little quirks could be ADHD related. Thank you all for the information, it really helped!
—Guest Tina


I never really thought about why when I sleep I must always have some kind of sound in the background which is why I have my fan going even on the coldest night. I can sleep through the loudest noises (such as a tile saw being used) but can't handle complete quiet most of the time (once in a while but never at bed time). I can't stand repetitive sound like a loud ticking clock, and indoor birds drive me absolutely nuts!! I never understood the reason for this but after reading all your stories I understand now. My socks need the seam at the top (and that even bothers me sometimes) and I don't generally wear long sleeves and if I do they always end up rolled up past the elbow. I know now I have had ADD/ADHD all my life and have had to deal with anxiety as long as I can remember. I hate any fat or the skin from fowl (not even the KFC'S) and hate whipped potatoes because of the texture though I love potatoes in general.
—Guest Don


This makes me happy! I'm not weird! Lol. I have ADHD. I'm extremely sensitive to noises, and it seems worse than ever actually, although my "air conditioner" sound on my phone helps me sleep. I did a double take when Ism861 mentioned the socks! I wasn't diagnosed until I was 20, so my mum had a hard time when I was growing up. The socks was a big one, couldn't have ones that had seams at the toes. Also I had a problem with underwear, didn't feel right, and eventually my mum resorted to buying really fancy ones. A lot of trial and error. Too bad we didn't know! lol. Oh well made for an interesting childhood.
—Guest "normal"

Too Sensitive

For the longest time I could not understand why I could hear sounds that could be a block away; especially low droning sounds. I hate repetitive sounds like tapping, basketballs dribbling, and some types of ticking. When people whistle it drives me nuts! Some time people are just being them and making these sounds and I just snap and ask them to stop but the way I say it is like they're hurting me. I hate tags and can't stand long sleeves. I hate the way cake feels in my mouth. Certain smells make me sick like being in a candle store. I'm always rubbing my feet together when I'm sitting still. If I'm really focused on something when people say something I jump or get angry because the interrupted my thoughts. I have found I have created some of my best work when I hyperfocus. But then I forget everything or everyone else exist until I'm done. That causes people to think I don't love them. I have few people in my life because they don't get me. It has caused many to judge me the wrong way.

Sensitive 27 year old

I've always been a tactile person. From the time I was a baby I remember sleeping with every stuffed animal I had because the warmth and softness was such a comfort. As an adult I am very sensitive to the blankets, sheets, and pillows of my bed. I'm also very picky about the texture of my PJ's. I'm very sensitive to smells as well. An offensive odor will literally make me angry and I can't do anything until I figure out what the smell is and eliminate it. I always have candles going, but not food smelling candles like apple pie or something - only "clean" smelling candles. I also HATE anything around my neck. I've always disliked turtleneck sweaters and prefer to wear my hair up so it doesn't tickle my neck. I'm also sensitive to light. I want it to be bright, especially when I'm eating. I think dim light is annoying and it actually makes me more clumsy. My equilibrium gets totally messed up in dim light. I also must sleep in total darkness with a fan.
—Guest Emily

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