In daily life, children can experience distractions affecting one or more of their five senses. For instance, unexpected noises, talking, people moving about, surrounding visual information, the texture of clothing or fabric.
These are distractions in their external environment.
There are also internal distractions, such as a familiar song replaying in their head, multiple moving images in their head when recalling information, and negative self talk (for example: “I’m not good at this”).
Children can vary widely in their tolerance towards their senses, with some having extreme sensory sensitivity. Anxiety can worsen any sensory sensitivity.
Often, neuro-diverse individuals with traits of dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD and ASD experience Sensory Overload at some level.
As a result, the student may:
- Become confused and overwhelmed
- Be unfocused to concentrate
- Lose their physical balance and become clumsy
- Have disrupted sleep
- Avoid eye contact
- Dislike sitting very still
- Lose the ‘internal dialogue’ that helps to prevent danger and risk.
‘Zone out’, withdraw or use ‘stimming’ (repetitive actions) to try and lesson the Sensory Overload (extreme sensory sensitivity).
These symptoms can arise in an instant and may cause an anxious state. This sub-optimal state can become a barrier to learning.