Highly sensitive people are those whose nervous systems are more finely attuned to sensory stimuli. They are also much more sensitive to their own and others’ emotions. While individuals who have sensory processing disorder can also be highly sensitive, being a highly sensitive person is not a disability; they just have a brain that is wired for a more highly attuned nervous system.
While a higher incidence of highly sensitive wiring among dyslexics is not documented, indications are that 15 to 20 percent of the general population is highly sensitive. If a person is both dyslexic and highly sensitive, it just means that their needs as a highly sensitive person must be addressed in order for them to focus on learning.
Their higher sensitivity might contribute to greater distractability.
If you have a highly sensitive child, please make an effort to understand how this wiring with a more highly attuned nervous system affects your child. What might seem to be a mild scolding for another child can be felt as extremely harsh to a highly sensitive child. Things that may be minor annoyances to someone without this wiring, can be a big deal for a highly sensitive child. They notice and perceive far more than others. Having a change of dry clothes along or an extra layer to take on or off or a snack during an outing can make a world of difference for a highly sensitive child. If your highly sensitive child stresses about self-flushing toilets in public restrooms, consider having a post-it note along to cover the sensor allowing them to be in control of when it flushes.
A quality, free assessment regarding sensitivity can be found at www.hsperson.com. For more information read The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron or The Highly Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide by Ted Zeff; both books are focused on adults who are highly sensitive. For a book that discusses highly sensitive children, The Highly Sensitive Child, also by Elaine Aron, provides insight and many strategies for parenting a child with this unique wiring.
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