Emotional lability and sensory sensitivity have been shown to contribute to the overall clinical picture in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Further, both of these characteristics have been individually demonstrated to contribute to poorer quality of life, increased functional impairment, and poorer treatment response. However, to date, no study has evaluated the relationship among all three of these factors.
The current study hypothesized that increased sensory sensitivity would moderate the relationship between hyperactive/impulsive symptoms of ADHD and emotional lability in youth. Results indicate that heightened sensory sensitivity strengthens the relationship between hyperactive/impulsive symptoms of ADHD and emotional lability in children with three or more clinically impairing ADHD symptoms. This dimensional approach was taken in accordance with growing evidence that even children with sub-threshold ADHD experience significant functional impairment and high rates of sensory sensitivity.
These findings suggest that clinicians treating children with ADHD symptoms and emotional lability should consider assessing for sensory sensitivity as integration of multi-sensory techniques or referral to concurrent occupational therapy may significantly improve treatment outcomes and quality of life for these children and their families.
(2019) The Contribution of Sensory Sensitivity to Emotional Lability in Children with ADHD Symptoms, Evidence-Based Practice in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 4:4, 319-327, DOI: 10.1080/23794925.2019.1647122