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How High Intuition Can Mimic Other Diagnosis

High intuition in children can mimic other diagnosis like attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sensory processing disorder, and high sensitivity.

- Catherine Crawford, licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in the needs of intuitive empath children and adults, author of The Highly Intuitive Child:

A Guide to Understanding and Parenting Unusually Sensitive and Empathic Children


To ensure a child gets the proper diagnosis and kind of support that he or she needs, please take the following information into consideration when making an evaluation. Conversations with the parent, caregiver, and educators can provide additional insights as well as a learning style assessment.

High Intuition versus Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

  • The two are quite different and so are their remedies.

    • ADD is believed to be caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the neurotransmitter fluids of the brain, and because of this, treatment is targeted at rebalancing these levels, usually through psychotropic medications​

    • High intuition has occasional spaciness and distractibility that comes with being highly intuitive and empathic. It stems from dealing with things like multiple intuitive impressions arriving at once or trying to figure out where a sudden empathic pain is coming from.

  • Highly intuitive kids are intuitive thinkers and learners. They can easily get bored in class and this can look like ADD because the child isn't following the same linear, sequential learning steps as the majority of their classmates and is "off-point" on the given task.

  • Most classroom curricula do not take into account intuitive learning styles.

  • Thoughtful consideration of the child's learning style can often help sift through this distinction.

  • If you adjust the child's environment or challenge the child in ways that are a better fit, the behavioral characteristics of the ADD dissolve.

  • Not all highly intuitive kids will have these issues.

High Intuition versus Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

  • Highly intuitive, empathic children struggle with heightened awareness of sensory input like highly sensitive children (HSC) and children with sensory processing disorder (SPD)

  • Sensory processing disorder (SPD) is the inability to use information received through the FIVE senses in order to function smoothly in daily life.  SPD happens in the central nervous system, at the "head" of the brain. 

  • Intuitive empathy involves the SIXTH sense and how it is integrated via the other senses. But this distinction is not always clear-cut.

  • It appears that some exceptionally intuitive, empathic children become so highly stimulated and upset by the volume of input they receive on these channels that their overload either results in or mimics SPD dysfunctions.

  • Not all highly intuitive kids will have this issue. However, if your child is experiencing  sensory integration problems, you may want to investigate further so your child receives the right kind of support.

High Intuition versus High Sensitivity (HSC)

  • Highly intuitive children share some or all of the traits of highly sensitive children (HSC) 

    • low threshold for stimulation

    • the need for alone time

    • sensitivity to light, sound, and smell

    • aversion to large groups

    • their system's ability to transition from high stimulation to quiet and calm is slower. 

    • love of nature and quiet environments

  • Highly intuitive, empathic children take their experience further than a HSC. They can sense subtle energy (known as shakti or prana in Eastern healing traditions), and absorb this energy into their own bodies.

    • they experience the energies around them in extremely deep ways

    • energetically internalize the feelings, pain, and various physical sensation of others

    • have trouble distinguishing someone else's discomfort from their own

    • have profound spiritual and intuitive experiences

    • can communication with animals, nature, and their inner guides

  • Not all highly intuitive and empathic kids will have these issues. 

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