A month ago I was in San Francisco to attend a training by Elaine Aron together with 15 others. There were some well known specialists among us, not only from the USA like Ted Zeff, Jacquelyn Strickland and Tracy Cooper but also Karina Zegers de Beijl from Spain, Tom Falkenstein from Germany, Barbara Allen from the UK. We were all invited by Elaine to receive this training to gain more (scientific) knowledge about the trait. We heard the latest research about Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS, which is the scientific name for HSP) from all kinds of researchers including her own. We had a fantastic time learning from Elaine and each other and we are all more then ever dedicated to make the trait more known and educate others about it. Soon our group will be be on her website as experts! I'll post a link as soon as it is available.
One very important concept is; differential susceptibility. HSPs respond more to positive stimuli than non-HSPs so intervention for sensitives is very beneficial.
One study indicated that depressed 11 year old girls who were sensitive were less depressed after intervention than non-HSCs.
Another study indicated that HSPs had more brain activation than non-HSPs when looking at positive and negative pictures. The HSPs who had a positive childhood responded deeper emotionally to positive pictures than HSPs who had a negative childhood.
According to Elaine Aron,”The results give us some insight as to why HSPs exhibit “differential susceptibility,” suffering more in bad environments but doing especially well in good ones. It seems that in good environments HSPs may pay more attention to positive stimuli relative to negative and react more strongly. This is even more so if they have had good parenting, and this can be very subtle such as a parent’s slight smile of approval or delight. HSPs benefit more from a better childhood and are harmed more from a poorer childhood.
These studies allow us to see how positive environments really do lead to a deeper processing of positive stimuli in HSPs. In addition, such a positive childhood increases self-awareness, arousal, self-control, and calmness, which are so important when responding to any emotional situation.
Elaine Aron further predicts that if a child simply learns that they have the trait of high sensitivity and that there is nothing wrong with them that will help in creating a more positive childhood for the HSC. Much harm can be done in childhood by parents not understanding their sensitive child.
Sometimes a child with the trait of high sensitivity is misdiagnosed as having a diagnosed disorder. For example, Highly Sensitive Children could falsely appear to have ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) because:
*When over-stimulated, sensitive children might be forgetful and make mistakes.
*HSCs can receive poor grades due to over-arousal in a classroom.
*Due to the fact that HSCs are very conscientious, they may feel overwhelmed from schoolwork pressure and function poorly, especially when being observed.
However, sensitive children differ from those children with ADHD since:
*In a quiet setting HSCs don’t have a problem focusing.
*They are not impulsive.
*HSCs are careful to avoid mistakes.
This is why it is so important to acknowledge and be aware that HSPs can easily be misdiagnosed as having a disorder when having the trait of high sensitivity is a normal trait found among 20% of the population is very important.
I feel more dedicated than ever to share my knowledge on this important subject and want to give as many lectures and presentations as I can manage. It is so important to share about the trait because HSP’s have so much to offer to the world if they are welcomed to share their ideas and thoughts. In companies they have sometimes difficulty to function if there is no room for their personal needs, with small adjustments they can thrive and add so much value to the business. In schools and healthcare there are working a lot of HSP’s and they are very good at it although it is a very demanding job and when an HSP does not provide his or herself with the proper self care they are easily overwhelmed and at risk to a burnout or depression. A lot of these problems can be prevented with small steps and adjustments to the work environment. All it takes sometimes is knowledge and information so employers can provide a better environment, which will not only benefit the HSP but also the non-HSP.
If you know of an organization or group of people who would be open to hearing all about the trait then please contact me! This could be in Dutch or English! I would love some introductions!