Accommodation Solutions Online

Sensory Distractibility (3B)

Sensory distractibility is the inability to screen out incoming sights, sounds, and smells.
Students who have sensory distractibility find it difficult to filter out extraneous stimuli (e.g. flickering lights, movement in the neighboring room, outside construction, a ticking clock). Sensory distractibility may make attending to lecture, conversation, reading, etc. difficult and may impact the ability to learn, demonstrate their knowledge or understanding, or participate in activities effectively and/or efficiently. Some students may exhibit an intense form of sensory distractibility, referred to as hypervigilance. Students who exhibit hypervigilance seem tense or "on guard" and may appear to be constantly scanning their environment.

Formal Diagnostics

A physician or psychologist's diagnosis indicating that a student is inattentive or is hypervigilant would be appropriate documentation.

Intake Questions

  • Are you easily distracted by sounds, sights, and other things that happen around you?
  • During class, do you find yourself becoming distracted by things such as clocks ticking or flickering lights?
  • Is it difficult to ignore distractions to do things that you want or need to focus on?
  • What accommodations or strategies have been effective in the past?


The Building Accepting Campus Communities (BACC) project was funded by the US Department of Education Office of Secondary Education grant #P333A080070-09. The University of Nebraska does not discriminate based on gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran's status, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.