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Sensory Overload

Although sensory overload can impact anyone, it is most common in those with ADHD or other sensory or neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly children. Sensory overload occurs when something, usually an environmental factor, overstimulates one or more of the five senses.

Different stimuli can compete for attention, making it impossible for the ADHD brain to process the information it receives. When this happens, the person experiencing sensory overload may overreact to a situation by lashing out or underreact by shutting down.

Although sensory overload does not affect everyone with ADHD, it is a common occurrence. The following are some common ADHD-related issues that may coincide with sensory overload:

  • difficulty self-regulating actions or emotions

  • impulsiveness

  • hyperactivity or hyper-focus

  • excessively intense response or lack of reactivity to various stimuli

  • inability to concentrate or inattentiveness

  • a lack of awareness of one's surroundings


  1. Mae A. What to know about ADHD and sensory overload. Published September 20, 2021. Accessed January 31, 2022.

  2. Morin A. ADHD and sensory overload. Published August 5, 2019. Accessed January 31, 2022.

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