Is Your Sensitive Child Also a Thrill-Seeker?

sensitive child thrill-seeker - girl jumping on skis - Laugh Love Learn

My sister couldn’t believe my son wanted to spend his birthday at Disneyland.

‘Isn’t that his idea of hell?’  Well, no – and yes.

It’s true, my sensitive and intense child hates crowds, loud noise and bright artificial lights. But he also loves thrilling rollercoasters and magical imaginary worlds.

Highly Sensitive?

Back when I was searching for answers about my unusual family, I read the book, The Highly Sensitive Person. While many HSP traits rang true for us, my children had an energy – an intensity – that Elaine Aron’s book didn’t mention.

Universal Islands of Adventure Dragon Challenge Coaster - sensitive child thrill-seeker

The (brilliant) blog Happy Sensitive Kids recently posted a list of ways highly sensitive kids feel different. I was nodding along until I came to, ‘HSCs stand out because they are cautious about going down the slide in the playground and watch hesitantly as other children hurtle down with glee.’

Er – not my sensitive kids! They’d be the ones running to the front of the queue in their haste to shoot down the slide head first!

Like their parents, my children are thrill-seeking adrenaline-junkies. The higher, the faster, the more intense – the better.

Staff at Orlando’s Universal Studios once approached me, convinced I must be doing something heinous to my son to cause such a massive meltdown. They backed off when they heard what he thought of the park’s policy of not allowing 42-inch 6-year-olds to ride the upside-down Dragon Challenge rollercoaster! (How unreasonable.)

You know you’re blessed with a sensitive, sensation-seeking child when…

*  You request a booth in restaurants because your son can’t bear the noise of the other diners, or waiters clearing tables … but his own voice can be heard in the car park. To occupy himself while ‘Hunger gnaws at my belly!’  he clangs his knife and fork together in imaginary battle.

* The man sitting behind your daughter in the cinema receives the death-stare if he dares to cross his legs … while she spends the movie shuffling, stretching, rocking and kicking the seat in front.

* You’re requested (politely but sharply) to sip your tea ‘silently, please!’ A minute later the dog wakes up, startled, as your son slurps the last of his smoothie through what must surely be an industrial straw attached to a megaphone.

* He begs to go on a sleepover with his best friend. They play games and tell stories until dawn, then he doesn’t want to see the friend for another month. Meanwhile you’re left explaining to the other mum, ‘He really did have a lovely time, he’s just a bit – er –  tired this week.’

* Your daughter has a meltdown when her sister practises violin before lunch (‘Make it STOP!’). Then at 10pm the walls shake as she ‘plays’ the piano in a manner that would wake Beethoven. (‘But I have to practise!’)

Of course, OEs look different in everyone, and children with strong emotional OE and highly-developed empathy may not often exhibit these extremes.  And not all sensation-seeking, sensitive kids with OEs like rollercoasters.  Yes – overexcitabilities – and the people who have them – are complex!

If you recognise your child in any of the above scenarios, you might want to do some research into overexcitabilities before you start down the path of an ADHD diagnosis. 😉

You’re also welcome to join us at the friendly PowerWood FaceBook group where OE families share ideas and encouragement.

child playing with fidget cube - sensitive child thrill-seeker - laugh love learn
Headphones and a fidget cube: How to survive Disneyland queues when you’re a sensitive thrill-seeker


This blog is all about overexcitabilities – see my Start Here page to begin exploring.

If your child is energetic and/or talkative, you might want to read 7 Signs Your Child Has Psychomotor Overexcitability

To find out if you or your child have OEs, take the free OE questionnaire at the fabulous PowerWood site, where you’ll also find dozens of personal stories illustrating the many and varied ways overexcitability can affect family life.

Highly Sensitive or Highly Excitable? An interesting post from Aurora Remember exploring the overlap between high-sensitivity and (over)excitability.

The Sensation-Seeking Highly Sensitive Person Well-researched article on a blog all about sensation-seeking HSPs.

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Do you have a love-hate relationship with theme parks?

Does your loud, fidgety child hate it when anyone else moves or makes a noise?

Are you a sensitive thrill-seeker?

I’d love to hear from you 🙂

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If you’d like to receive my regular emails about life in an overexcitable family, leave your email in the Follow By Email box below. You can also like Laugh, Love, Learn on Facebook.

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