Low Sensory Threshold in Kids

By Jonae Fredericks
Kids with low sensory thresholds find loud noises intolerable.
Kids with low sensory thresholds find loud noises intolerable.

If your child receives a low sensory threshold diagnosis, it means that his neurons, or nerve cells, are firing more readily than average. Sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell are all sensory modes that send messages to the brain for processing. The manner in which your child’s brain processes these messages, dictates his sensory threshold. Kids with heightened sensory thresholds, display little to no reaction. Those who have low sensory thresholds react to stimuli with increased frequency.

Sight and Hearing

Vision and audition are two sensory modalities that affect how the brain processes input. Children with low thresholds are often sensitive to light and prone to squinting. In some cases, they may even cover or close their eyes repeatedly. These kids are also sensitive to sound, and according to the University of Kansas Medical Center website, find loud and sudden noises disruptive. For these children, the reaction to such stimuli is so strong that even the slightest, unexpected sound can startle them.


Tactile sensory mode, better known as sense of touch, proves to be extremely sensitive in kids with low sensory thresholds. In fact, even the slightest or unexpected touch results in a strong reaction. Because of their tactile hypersensitivity, low threshold kids have difficulty choosing comfortable clothes and often remove their clothes to relieve their discomfort. The Western Michigan University website explains that a common complaint among children with tactile sensitivities is that their clothes feel too itchy.

Taste and Smell

Gustation and olfaction, or taste and smell, are the final two sensory triggers that produce a hypersensitive reaction in low threshold children. The lower their sensory thresholds, the fussier kids are with their food choices. Because their taste buds are working overtime, taste and texture can be intense. According to Morgan Community College, sense of smell is also heightened for low threshold kids. What this means is that only a limited amount of particles need to be present in the air before their sense of smell kicks in. As the particles increase, so does the reaction. This explains why potent air fresheners and heavy perfumes often overwhelm low threshold kids.


Low threshold children respond positively to accommodations that help relieve their rapid sensory responses. For instance, 100% cotton clothing and seamless socks can reduce tactile responses. Kids that are sensitive to smell, thrive when conflicting odors are removed from their environment. In the same respect, avoiding bright lights appeases low threshold children with sensitive vision. The Virginia Commonwealth University website also states that warning children before loud noises occur and prior to the introduction of new foods, is also helpful.

About the Author

Jonae Fredericks started writing in 2007. She also has a background as a licensed cosmetologist and certified skin-care specialist. Jonae Fredericks is a certified paraeducator, presently working in the public education system.