icon sensual overexcitabilityChildren and adults with a sensual OE can be overwhelmed by what they see, hear, smell, taste and touch. They may get extreme pleasure from or hate certain foods, textures and smells etc. They might dislike tags in their clothes or want to wear their socks inside out to prevent feeling the seams. Children might want to touch people at inappropriate moments or may be unable to cope with being touched themselves.


This OE can be highly distracting. These people may have difficulty concentrating when a lamp is flickering, or when certain music is playing and can become overwhelmed by noise and busy places. The opposite can also be true, resulting in the need for a certain stimulus, such as music, to be able to concentrate.

“My son hated shoes and always managed to sneakily leave them at petrol stations when we were on long journeys – he knew we wouldn’t discover they were missing until the next stop and that we wouldn’t go back for them. He would then have a chance of being without shoes for a few days.” Simone about her son

When experiencing emotional tension this OE can be expressed in the desire to be the centre of attention, sexual overindulgence, buying sprees and an inclination to develop eating disorders or addictions. Children are often seen as overreacting when they try to avoid overstimulation and seek soothing experiences. This sensitivity can be mistaken for a characteristic of Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

“The girl (one and a half years old) touched wet sand in the playground. Her eyes looked at her hands with such a disgust and she started screaming as if she had been bitten.” Observation by Simone

Sensual OE is positive because it offers a greater enjoyment of life. This heightened ability allows art, music, nature, beautiful objects, the lyrics of a song or a poem, food and drinks to be enjoyed on a completely different level.
Read more about the other areas of intensity: Psychomotor, Intellectual, Imaginational and Emotional.

Further Reading


Lucinda Leo’s Blog: What is Sensual Overexcitability?


Jade Ann Rivera: How to identify and cope with overexcitabilities, part 5 of 5: Sensual overexcitability

My Little Poppies:  Sensory STUFF (Overexcitabilities, intensities, SPD, ADHD, anxiety, behaviour… call it what you will)

Living with Intensity, Book edited by Daniels and Piechowski


Find out if you or your child has OE as well

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