Are you Highly Sensitive?

My mind was blown last year when I discovered decades of research into Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) by Dr Elaine Aron.

Working with neurodivergent students for 22 years, I have supported many who are highly sensitive, experiencing symptoms such as sensory overload and exhaustion. However, when I came across Dr Elaine Aron’s research, I was intrigued to discover that high sensitivity is also considered to be a personality trait – found in around 15-20% of the population.

Highly sensitive people tend to experience sensory input and feelings more intensely than the average person. For example, they may have a more heightened sense of smell, be more easily alarmed or distracted by noises or become very distressed by the news or violent films. They can often feel overwhelmed by sensory input and they may also pick up on other people’s energy, which can lead to feelings of anxiety, exhaustion or simply not feeling themselves.

High sensitivity is not a ‘disorder’; it is not something that needs to be ‘fixed’; nor is it something to be lamented. Indeed, highly sensitive people may have a mixture of exceptional skills, such as kindness, intuition and compassion, but at the same time, being highly sensitive can bring its challenges. Many of the parents I’ve worked with have mentioned their struggles in supporting their highly sensitive children – and when parents are highly sensitive too this can become almost unbearable for everyone.

If you want to learn more about your own sensitivity, do consider taking a quiz, for example at Dr Aron has written several books on HSPs and filmed a collection of YouTube videos. There is even a child’s test here: 

These are in no way diagnoses but, in my mind, raises questions to be curious about and which often fit in with my approach to neurodiversity. The overlap between high sensitivity and neurodiversity is something that interests me (I have both). In my opinion they are certainly not the same thing but I am concerned about the number of neurodiverse students who appear to have been highly sensitive from birth, and how this, if unrecognized, has affected their whole development. I also wonder if some HSP students are misdiagnosed with neurodiversity?

Sian Goodspeed ( and I have been exploring these concepts and are preparing a presentation for the NLP international conference in May, that includes the vital concepts of EnergeticNLP. If you could spare some time to complete the quiz and give us some feedback, we would value your responses to the following questions:

  • How do you/your children score on the hsperson quiz?
  • Do you or your child consider yourselves to be neurodivergent?
  • What characteristics of this trait do you or your child have?
  • What challenges does high sensitivity bring for you or your child?
  • What benefits does it bring?
  • Are there any skills you’d like to learn that could support you or your child’s high sensitivity?

Please leave your comments in the blog.

These are all topics we plan to explore with our students and I would love to hear from ex-students or new pupils who would like a different perspective. My curiosity has enabled me to develop unique ways of looking at neurodiversity that has enabled students to focus on their strengths and how they can be better understood to mitigate challenges. I look forward to this further exploration.

My name is Olive Hickmott; I would be pleased to support you in any way I can.
You are welcome to contact me
Please register here to follow my blog at
You will find other useful informationat
Here is my YouTube channel for more free resources:
My new learning channel can be found at
My latest books are:
The Elephants in the Classroom: using every student’s natural power of mental Imagery to enhance learning: Neurodiversity through the lens of mental Imagery.
Bridges to Success – How to transform Learning Difficulties
Recover Your energy– this book will energise you
You too can do health 

#empoweringlearning #bemoregiraffe #highlysensitivepeople #NLPInternationalconference #neurodivergent #energeticNLP

About olivehickmott

I am a Forensic Learning coach, showing people how they can improve their own learning and change their health. Working with creative neurodivergent students is a joy, as they learn new skills to overcome many of their learning challenges.
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