One of my first questions about being a highly sensitive person – once that was established with a resounding yes – was, “Does this mean I have sensory processing disorder?”


I’ve heard some of my friends talk about their kids dealing with this sensory disorder, and I could relate to some of the symptoms. For example, I am very sensitive to florescent lighting, which causes migraines for me. This is a symptom of a couple of my friends’ kids who have SPD.



I found out that, although there can be some overlapping similarities between the highly sensitive trait and sensory processing disorder, they are not the same thing. While my friends’ kids and I can both be overstimulated by bright lights, and we may both find relief in removing the cause of overstimulation, the root cause of the problem is not the same. Dr. Elaine Aron explains this well.


With sensory processing disorder, external sensory information actually gets mixed up in the brain, and the person may have contextually inappropriate responses to stimuli.


On the other hand, highly sensitive people are highly aware, highly cognizant, and we process information in a much more thorough way. We may notice things other people don’t, like subtle shifts in emotion or little nuances, that cause a different type of internal overstimulation. While removing external stimulation can help HSPs in certain situations, sometimes all we need is better understanding, acceptance, and appropriate usage of our trait in order to function well.


It’s a depth-of-processing versus mixed-up-processing thing.


Aron associates depth of processing with reflecting on big picture ideas, relating information to the meaning of life, slow decision-making, good ideas, personal insight, and a sense of long-term consequences.


Can you identify?