Sensory processing and the teenage years

Oct 25 , 2023


Julie-Anne Dietz

Sensory processing and the teenage years

I feel passionate about assisting teenagers with sensory processing disorder as they move into teenage years. As I remember (ok, yes, it was a fair time ago now), it can be a difficult time for everyone, let alone those meeting their sensory processing challenges.

I came across and really like a website called Growing Hands on Kids (GHOK). The most recent blog by Heather Greutman, calls on expert Sara an occupational therapist to give us an insight into sensory processing and the teenage years. Click on the link here Sensory Processing and the Teenage Years ( for this blog post.

In summary, Sara explains how teens typically want more independence and control over their life. As they move through puberty, they are presented with new social experiences which can present a new set of challenges.

The blog unpacks the question of... how to support teens with sensory processing difficulties? The first change needs to start with ‘us’ the parent of carer. Giving recognition that your teen is no longer your little child who needs all of your help to get them through their sensory challenges can be difficult – but hey, we all need to let go. However, it is still important to understand where they are developmentally and, where necessary, help them through new situations.

Here are 4 things to consider:

  1. Allow then to make their own choices: if they're starting to get frustrated and show some signs of anger, having choices laid out for them can be helpful. Present accommodations and activities to teenagers and let them decide which they would like to use. Honour and respect their choices and encourage them to engage in problem-solving with you.


  1. Self Regulation and Self -Esteem: learn to respect that teens may be more emotional during this time of life. Learn to recognise signs of anxiety and depression and seek out medical advice from a health professional with any concerns. Try these activities to help with emotions, deep breathing, mindfulness, yoga, spending time outdoors, Taekwondo, and meditation.


  1. More Say and Control over their Environment: teens are likely to be more vocal and let you know what upsets them in their environment. Consider the lighting, sounds, and smells in the environment that the teen is in. Do they let you know that certain sounds are distracting them? Talk with your teen and listen to them. Together you can problem-solve how to best set up their environment to help with attention and focus and help them complete everyday tasks.


  1. Sensory strategies that are meaningful for teenagers: as teenagers grow it is likely that they're going to have different views on what they will like compared to when they were younger. Their sensory preferences are likely to adjust or change. The best way to find out how to support your teen’s sensory needs is to find an occupational therapist or professional trained in sensory processing to help your teen with one-on-one treatment and evaluation.


Here are some great movement activities for teens with sensory overload:

  • Getting involved in Group sports activities
  • Running
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Skateboarding
  • Skiing
  • Gymnastics
  • Going on amusement park rides swinging in a hammock
  • Bike riding on a trail
  • Swinging
  • Rocking
  • Going for a walk
  • Chewing gum
  • Spending time in a quiet, dark space

Once again be sure to include your teen in the conversation about the movement activities they might like to do. You or a professional will have a good handle on the physical capability of your teen and more than likely, together you will come up with something that is very enjoyable for you all.

For great teen sensory processing disorder products at DEO click here - Calming Aids for Teens and Young Adults – disAbility equip online

Once again, I would like to endorse Heather and Growing Hands on Kids (GHOK), where you will find great child development tips, tools, and strategies through hands on activities.


Live your best life!


Julie-Anne – Founder & Owner DEO

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