Sensory Strategies for Teens
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Our family has discovered that there are tons of resources for sensory strategies for young children out there on the internet, but it can be a different story when you are looking for resources for teens, tweens, and adults. We wanted to do what we could to help provide you with some of our own information as well as some valuable information from other bloggers as well.
My brother is now 15 years old and his sensory preferences have changed over the years as to compared to when he was a little child. One thing that is different now is that he is better able to verbalize to us what things he likes to do and what things he prefers.
One sensory tool that was vital for my brother when he was younger was a hammock swing. He loved this swing and he would constantly swing in it during the day when he was playing video games or playing on his iPad. We had the swing set up in the middle of our living room. Now that he has gotten bigger, we don’t have the swing in our living room, but set up a swing outside when it is nice outside.
Finding strategies that work for your teen can sometimes be a challenge, but we want to help make this easier for you.
Here are a list of some of the sensory strategies and tools that have worked for my brother:
Fidgets that he can use while at his computer
Set of 3! Tangle Jr. Original Fidget ToyLiquid Motion Bubbler for Sensory Play, Fidget Toy, Children Activity, Desk Top, Assorted ColorsDSSY Stress Spinner Fidget Finger Dice Anti-Stress Release Toys for Children/Adults
Headphones that he can wear to listen to music
Different oral motor sensory items such as bubble gum, sour candies, or gummy candies.
ICE BREAKERS ICE CUBES Chewing Gum, Peppermint, Sugar Free, 10 Piece Boxes (Pack of 8)Haribo Gold-Bears Gummi Candy (28.8 Ounce Resealable Pouch)Sour Patch Kids Sweet and Sour Gummy Candy (Original, 1.9 Pound Bag)
Some of the differences that I have noticed for my brother as he has gotten older is he doesn’t need to seek out movement activities as much. He enjoys finding activities to keep his hands busy while he is waiting for things. He still really enjoys music, and he enjoys some of the visual type sensory items as well.
Working as an occupational therapist, I get questions all of the time about how can I support my child’s sensory needs. I do my best to help them come up with sensory strategies and tools to best support their needs. Every teen and child is different and in different situations some strategies work, and sometimes they don’t. The key here is to be patient and be willing to be flexible. Be willing to try new things and think outside of the box to find strategies that work for your teen.
What can you do as the parent to help support your teen with finding their sensory preferences?
Now that they are older, can they tell you things that they like and prefer? My brother can now tell us what he wants such as a snack or listening to music. If they can’t tell you, you will have to learn to observe and listen to what they are telling you through their behaviors.
Observe Their Behaviors
Take time to notice how they are responding to different situations during the day. Is there an activity they were doing where they were calm or helped give them energy?
Help Identify Some Problem Areas
Help your teen identify some areas that they are having a hard time with. Do they have a hard time with focus, staying awake, following directions, or sitting still? Help your teen think of times during the day when they are having a harder time? What would be some strategies you could try to implement during those times of day or during those situations.
Here are some great resources from the Inspired Tree House about the Auditory System and the Proprioceptive and Vestibular Systems to help you identify some of the problem areas.
Help them Become Self-Aware
When we learn some of the problem areas, this can also help teach the teen to become more self-aware of what some of their needs may be. The ultimate goal is for our teen to be able to self-regulate themselves on their own without our help so that they can be at their optimal functional level during the day. When the teens can learn to self-regulate on their own this will help them through their everyday life skills and routines.
Check out our Questionnaire about how to help your teen find sensory strategies that work for them!!
Set up their Environment for Success
If they need a little help from you before they are independent, you can set up their environment to help them find the strategies that work for them. For instance my brother keeps most of his fidget type toys right by his computer or in our living room so that he has quick access to them and doesn’t have to go searching for them, which would add another step for him. He also keeps his music and headphones in the same spot in the living room so he knows exactly where they are. The easier we can make it on our teens to get to the objects, the less they will need to rely on our help.
Does your child or teen struggle with personal hygiene skills due to sensory challenges? Check out our free Personal Hygiene Sensory Strategies Toolkit for help!
Sensory and Calm Down Resources you will LOVE!!
Helping our Teen to find the right strategies that work for them is our number one goal! I hope you found some of our personal stories or links to the other posts helpful as you are looking for helpful strategies to help your own teen!
We are here to help! Let us know in the comments below if there are specific strategies that have worked well for your teen!