It was very, very noisy on my way to school this morning. Way too noisy!
It reminded me of, when I was a little kid, covering my ears when my dad would use the circular saw or table saw--I referred to the former as the "screamer saw" because of it's loud high pitched sound. My parents have often told me how I cried (likely in pain) when, as a toddler, they took me along with them to see "Start Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." I allegedly fell asleep at some point during the movie, but there were many complaints that the sound volume in the theater was very loud that day.
Today it was the lawnmowers, weed-eaters, and small tractors in use by university groundskeepers that had my "inner 5-year-old" desperately wanting to cover her ears and run--or scream. It's not that the sound was painful, but that there was so much of it and that it was so loud. The accompanying anxiety was a kind of sensory overload--like when too many people are talking at once.
I've recently read that some people with ADHD are especially sensitive to light, sound, and touch1,2.
Light and touch I'd already recognized in myself. I seldom go outside without sunglasses on sunny days in spring or summer . I vividly remember experiencing the "tags-in-my-clothes-drive-me-bonkers" syndrome as a small child. In fact, my mom once asked my grandmother to re-sew one of my nightshirts with cotton thread--it was originally made with stiff, plastic "invisible" thread, which itched in a way I absolutely could not stand.
I'd never thought about the sound sensitivity until today--at least not in that negative way. In one book, the author describes the most sound sensitive person he'd worked with--a boy who could determine what word someone was writing by the sounds of the pencil on the paper3. When reading this, I noted that I too could hear fluorescent light bulbs (in very quiet rooms) and that I have an unusually good sense of directional hearing. I can often hear the high pitched sound of a CRT (cathode ray tube) computer monitor or muted TV from several feet away and behind a closed door.
1 Jeffrey Freed and Laurie Parsons. Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World: unlocking the potential of your ADD child (Simon & Schuster: New York, 1997), 56, 58-61.
2Daniel G. Amen. Healing ADD: the breakthrough program that allows you to see and heal the six types of attention deficit disorder (Berkeley Publishing Group: New York, 2001), 14-6.
3 Freed and Parsons, 56-7.