Making Sense of Hypersensitivity

Making Sense of


A Neufeld Institute Course

Hypersensitivity is a poorly understood phenomenon that plays a major underlying role in the entire autism spectrum, giftedness and sensory processing disorders. In this weekend we will explore the neuroscience underlying this phenomenon, how it can lead to emotional and maturational stuckness and what we can do to both compensate for, and work with (rather than push against), hypersensitivity to pave the way for growth.

This course was created by renowned developmental psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld

Topics Covered Include:

  • Topics include:
    • how the sensory gating system works and what can go wrong
    • how the attention system works and what can go wrong
    • the three main tasks of the sensory gating system and so the corresponding disabilities when it is dysfunctional
    • why the brains of the hypersensitive are often larger
    • how to recognize defendedness in the attention system
    • some tell-tale signs of hypersensitivity
    • how current diagnostic criteria of autism both eclipse and distract from the root neurological condition
    • the three primary causes of sensory gating problems
    • why males are more predisposed to sensory gating problems
    • how to come alongside the sensory-overloaded child and compensate for the hypersensitivity
    • how sensory gating problems deliver a double blow to the brain’s defense systems and what can be done about this
    • why the hypersensitive are predisposed to attachment problems including elevated alpha instincts, oppositionality, depersonalization of attachment impulses, and defensive detachment
    • why the hypersensitive have difficulty feeling their emotions as well as identifying their feelings
    • why the hypersensitive tend to be more impulsive and emotionally immature
    • how to recognize attachment in its depersonalized manifestations
    • why the hypersensitive are often less reflective and have less venturing forth energy
    • the kinds of isolated manifestations of giftedness that typically have their roots in hypersensitivity
    • why the ‘gifted’ are often more fragile
    • how to restore neural plasticity in the brains of the hypersensitive
    • why the hypersensitive are more prone to aggression and how best to handle and address these problems
    • why attachment is required to compensate for the deficits inherent in hypersensitivity
    • how to reverse the attachment problems of the hypersensitive and how to cultivate the fruitful working attachments they require
    • why the play mode is necessary for neuron rewiring and how to best activate the play mode in the hypersensitive
    • suggestions for dealing with the hypersensitive child in the school setting and in the therapeutic setting
    • how to use play to defuse the elevated alpha, counterwill and aggressive impulses
    • how to use play to regulate attention and emotion as well as to provide the conditions for optimizing development and functioning
    • how to create the kind of emotional playgrounds the hypersensitive child most needs