Typical ADHD Behaviors

Tag! I’m It!

Most people wouldn’t think twice about the sounds, scents, and textures that can drive people with ADHD batty.

A clothing tag can be maddening for a hypersensitive adult with ADHD.
A clothing tag can be maddening for a hypersensitive adult with ADHD.

If something minor is irritating you, shouldn’t you be able to carry on and not let it bother you?

Most grownups can ignore what bugs them, but adults with ADHD aren’t as lucky. One of the side effects of living with ADHD is hypersensitivity. If you’re hypersensitive, there are times when you can’t block out what’s bothering you. It may be something you touch, smell, or taste. It can be a certain sound. The sensation “sticks to us” in a way that is impossible to ignore.

Things that spark ADHD hypersensitivity are minor: tags in clothing; the wrong kind of music; strong aftershave on a man sitting nearby in the movie theater; uncomfortable clothes — too tight or too itchy; a loved one gently rubbing your arm; certain tastes or food textures.

[Hypersensitivity Is Not Imagined]

Most people wouldn’t think twice about any of these things, but if you live with adult ADHD, heed the warnings. Attempting to ignore the irritant usually backfires. The annoyance causes you to get distracted and to lose focus. When you reach your tolerance limit, you over-react, leaving the people around you wondering what just happened. When something is really bugging you, do everything you can to get away from it.

I’m sensitive to touch, sound (music mostly), and scents. At a recent conference, I dashed out of an engaging workshop, looking for a pair of scissors to cut the tag out of my new blouse. The darn thing rubbed against my neck and drove me batty.

Sometimes when I’m sifting through the racks at our local Goodwill store, I smile when I come across a blouse with the tag removed. I imagine that it was owned by an ADHD soul mate, who, like me, couldn’t stand the feel of the thing.

[Self-Test: Could You Have Sensory Processing Disorder]