Sensory Overload

sensory overload

Sensory overload occurs when one or more of the five senses becomes overstimulated. For students, sensory overload can make it hard to focus in class or study, leading to stress and anxiety.

  • About

    Sensory overload happens when the brain gets too much information from the senses at once, like in noisy or crowded places. Loud noises, bright lights, crowded spaces, and strong smells can all cause sensory overload.

    In a university setting, sensory overload can be triggered by various factors, including noisy and crowded environments such as student unions or busy libraries, intense fluorescent lighting in classrooms or study areas, and overwhelming social situations like large group discussions or presentations.

    The impact of sensory overload on students can be significant, affecting their academic performance, mental health, and overall wellbeing. Students may experience increased stress, anxiety, and difficulty in completing tasks, leading to feelings of frustration and isolation. Understanding and managing sensory overload is crucial for students to thrive in their academic pursuits.

  • Sensory overload and neurodiversity

    Did you know that people with Autism take in up to 40% more information from their environment? This means that sometimes certain sounds or loud environments can potentially cause a sensory overload. People with ADHD can also be very sensitive to sounds. Let’s create an inclusive environment for our neurodiverse student community and remember to mind the noise in designated study areas. 

    Sensory overload occurs more often in the neurodiverse community. When a neurodiverse person is experiencing sensory overload related to loud environments, they could experience the following: 

    • Develop headaches 
    • Experience high levels of anxiety 
    • Lack of focus 
    • Irritability 
    • Confusion 
  • Common symptoms

    • Students may experience heightened levels of anxiety and stress when faced with sensory overload, leading to feelings of being overwhelmed and unable to cope with their academic responsibilities.
    • Sensory overload can make it challenging for students to focus and concentrate on their studies, impacting their ability to absorb information and retain knowledge.
    • Students may become irritable or agitated in response to sensory overload, finding it difficult to engage with others or participate in social activities.
    • The sheer volume of sensory stimuli can leave students feeling overwhelmed and unable to process information effectively, leading to feelings of confusion and disorientation.
  • Strategies to cope

  • Resources