Do Children with ADD/ADHD Sometimes Have Sensory Problems?

Post by: Sandra Wasserman
in Blog
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Children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and children with Attention Deficit Hyper-Activity Disorder (ADHD) can have difficulties in thress sensory areas:  Tactile or touch, proprioceptive (or spatial relationships), and vestibular (balanced movements).

Tactile refers to the sense of touch.  Children who have problems in this area often don't like things touching them.  This can include materials of clothing - such as tags in shirts.  It can include aversions to getting their hair cut or taking baths.  Children who have tactile difficulties sometimes don't like messy play, such as getting their hands in clay, paint, or play dough. 

The proprioceptive system relates to the position of the body in space.  It allows us to know what our body parts are doing, how fast or slow we need to move, and how much pressure to use.  Children with difficulties in this sensory area often appear clumsy and uncoordinated.  These children often hug too hard, or throw the ball too hard.  If this sensory area is not treated, it can impact the child's self-esteem.  Children with proprioceptive sensory problems may start thinking of themselves as "I'm terrible at sports", or "no one likes me" - both negative statements.  Essentially, without treatment, these children have trouble "fitting in" with children that have well-developed proprioceptive systems.

The third sensory issue often seen in children with ADD/ADHD children is the vestibular system.  The vestibular system helps with balanced movement.  The vestibular system provides our brain with information about our environment.  It tells us where we are in space.  Its also involved with the right / left movements and with balance.  Children with vestibular problems are typically clumsy in their movements.  Clumsiness can be a barrier to developing normal social relationships with other children.

As one can see, a child with ADD / ADHD poses a lot of challenges for the child and for the family.  Understanding what makes your child behave in a certain way will help you meet those challenges.

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