5 Things You Need to Know to Support your Teen with Sensory Processing Difficulties

“These clothes are itchy and they feel weird…”

“I can’t handle the smell of the food you are cooking…”

“This food is disgusting…

“I hate going to the mall, it is too loud and there are too many people…”

“Ahh, I can’t handle this!”

Sound familiar?

When your child with sensory processing disorder becomes a teenager, it can be pretty terrifying… You start searching for ways to help them handle these new sensory situations…

You might feel lost, and like you don’t even know where to start…

That’s why I’m so excited that my friend Sara, an occupational therapist and sister to a teenager with autism, agreed to share with us some strategies to support your teen with sensory processing difficulties!

How do you support your teen with sensory processing difficulties when the sensory strategies they've loved their whole life don't work anymore?

*This post includes affiliate links, please see my full disclosure for details.

Teens with sensory processing disorder have more emotional meltdowns and its hard to know how to support their sensory needs anymore. They seem to have grown out of the sensory strategies and tools that worked so well when they were younger.

I get it.

As a caregiver, I understand how you feel overwhelmed and not knowing how to support your teen in this new stage of life. As an occupational therapist, I am always working on learning new strategies and resources to support teens with their sensory processing needs.

I have a teenage brother with autism and as a family, we are always working to find sensory strategies that work for him know. He is a different person than when he was younger and he has new sensory preferences.

Teens are presented with new experiences and expectations.

Typically they want to gain more independence and control over their life, they are going through hormonal changes through puberty and they are presented with new social experiences… Sensory processing difficulties can make all of that a bit more difficult.

How do you support your teen with sensory processing difficulties when the sensory strategies they've loved their whole life don't work anymore?

How do we support teens with sensory processing difficulties?

#1 Change Your Mindset:

As the parent, teacher, or therapist you need to be able to change your mindset for teens.

They are no longer your little child that needs all of your help to help them with their sensory challenges. You need to help foster where they are developmentally and help them through these new situations. 

#2 Switch Up Your Sensory Activities:

You need to think of sensory activities that they will enjoy in this stage of life.  Find sensory strategies that are meaningful to them. They may develop different sensory preferences and may need different sensory activities presented to them.

#3 Foster Independence:

They will want to explore more independence and make their own choices. They still may need guidance and support from us, but presenting sensory activities for them to choose from and let them decide what they would like to use will help them gain more independence.

Honor and respect their choices and encourage them to engage in problem-solving with you.

#4 Prepare for the Emotions:

Learn to respect that teens may be more emotional during this time of life. It’s really helpful to recognize signs of anxiety and depression and seek out medical advice from a health professional with any concerns.

#5 Get Ready For New Social Situations:

They will be going through new social experiences and these may be more difficult for teens with sensory processing difficulties. They will be presented with more opportunities to go out to public spaces such as restaurants, the mall, or the bowling alley, for example. And in those new situations, they may be exposed to new foods, smells, sounds, or clothing textures and they may not know how to cope.

That is where the ebook, Making Sense of the Teen Years: A Sensory Processing Guide comes in. This ebook helps walk you through what your teen may be experiencing and find practical strategies and tips that you can use today to help your teen with these everyday situations.

The teenage years can be challenging and overwhelming… especially for teens with sensory processing difficulties. We hope to provide you with resources and strategies to help make your life a little less stressful to better support your teen.

Making Sense of the Teen Years: A Sensory Processing Guide was written from a unique perspective from a sister, mother, occupational therapist, and special education teacher on how to best support teens. We have poured our hearts and soul into this ebook because we know there are not many resources to address this topic for families.

Looking for other great resources to support your teen with sensory processing difficulties?

Check out the Free Calm Down Toolkit Guide for Teens to help you find out information about sensory meltdowns, self-regulation skills, calm down strategies, and what to put in a calm down toolkit for teens!

The Free Personal Hygiene Sensory Strategies Toolkit for teens is a quick go-to guide to find specific strategies to help teens be more independent with bathing, showering, brushing teeth, washing face, shaving, hair cutting and more!

For more adventures in teens and tweens, check out:

Surprising Benefits of Pokemon Go for Children with Special Needs

3 Super Simple Ways to Stay Safe Playing Pokemon Go


More Resources For Dealing with Sensory “Issues”

To help you remember some of these strategies and understand sensory behavior and what to do in the moment, I’ve put together this amazing poster set on how to understand your child’s sensory struggles and discipline sensory meltdowns.

These posters give you tips on how to help your child regulate their sensory needs, and identify what your child’s behavior is really telling you!

There’s also a list of 7 common myths about sensory behavior. I dispel these misconceptions so you can gain a deeper understanding of what sensory really is.

Ok, you might be thinking…

This all sounds great but…

  • What should I do when my child is having a meltdown?
  • How do I create sensory strategies that are going to help my unique child?
  • How exactly do I get them to use those strategies in the moment?

In my next blog post, I’ll share how to create sensory tools that are going to help your specific child. I’ll also tell you what to do in the moment when your child is in sensory overload and having a meltdown!

overcome sensory issues

But right now, download your FREE Handle Any Sensory Challenge posters so you can get a deeper understanding of sensory and start implementing some sensory activities and routines with your family!


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