How to Help Teens with Sensory Meltdowns
How to Handle Changes
Hormonal changes, new expectations, social situations, a need for independence, and emotional mood swings are all things that a teenager is experiencing. The list goes on and on. Their body is changing physically and emotionally. They are learning new skills everyday and not to mention starting middle school.
Their are higher school expectations placed them and they are starting a whole new avenue with social situations. They are starting to figure out who they are as a person and starting to rely less on parents. They are testing the boundaries to see what they can and cannot do. All of these changes can lead to some pretty emotional changes as well.
Sensory Processing Difficulties
Teenagers with sensory processing difficulties can also have new and unexpected changes. They may start to respond differently to sensory experiences, times when they would have been able to be in control, they may not be able to control as easily. They may need to be taught how to handle themselves in certain situations again. They need our love, guidance, and support. What can we do to help our teens with sensory processing difficulties calm down? Check out our FREE Calm Down Strategies Toolkit for Teens for helpful tips, tricks, and resources!
*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy for further details.
Teenagers can still experience sensory meltdowns. What are sensory meltdowns?
A sensory meltdown is a neurological response due to their brains being wired differently and their bodies fight or flight system kicks in. When the fight response takes over we can have a sensory meltdown.
They become so overwhelmed by the situation that they may not be aware of their surroundings and may lose control. They may not even be aware of what they are doing during the meltdown.
What can we do to help them with sensory meltdowns?
SAFETY IS THE TOP PRIORITY: Do what you can to keep everyone safe in the situation. Try to have the teen move to a safe area, but if you are unable to move them, make sure the people around them are able to move away to stay safe. You may need to move objects that could potentially be thrown or turned into a weapon.
Do not try to talk to the person during the meltdown as they will be unable to respond as they may be unaware of what they are doing in the situation.
As the parent/teacher/therapist, know your boundaries lines as to what you need to do in certain situations. We would love to always be able to deescalate a sensory meltdown before it happens, but when it does happen we need to understand our roles. There is a line when a bad behavior turns into a meltdown and then when a meltdown turns into a potentially dangerous situation. If at any time you feel that you cannot keep the person, yourself, or people around you safe CALL FOR HELP.
Have an understanding: Have an understanding that the teen may not understand what is going on during a meltdown and most likely does not want to be acting this way. These situations are hard and mentally exhausting as well as physically exhausting. Be present in the situation to help keep everyone safe, but when it is over do what you need to do to mentally and physically recharge. You are most likely their biggest support system and advocate and they need you to be able to be there for them.
Check out our FREE Calm Down Strategies Toolkit for Teens for more tips on calm down strategies, sensory meltdowns, emotional self-regulation skills and coping skills!