There is a lot of amazing activities and advice for younger kids and toddlers that help to meet sensory needs, but as my boys get older I’ve noticed there is suddenly a lot of silence around meeting the sensory needs of older children and even adults. In my search for information I have compiled the following list of ideas for sensory activities for the older child.
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Perhaps it is because fewer children struggle as they grow up, which is an AWESOME thing. I love the idea that sensory issues are temporary for most kids, but for some people the need for sensory activities doesn’t go away. They morph and change with age. The small aides such as stress balls, liquid motion mazes and essential oils are still wonderful, but the big movement sensory inputs can be a little harder to sort out.
Here are a few activities to try and meet the sensory needs of older children, tweens, teenagers and adults.
Yoga – There are a lot of benefits to yoga for everyone. Just a few minutes a day of practice can really make a difference.
Martial Arts – A wonderful blend of strength, routine and calmness.
Archery – You will never be as aware of your breath as when you are staring down an arrow at a target. It requires strength, stability and great body awareness.
Horse Back Riding – Working with horses requires a person to be calm and focused, it also requires a lot of heavy work with feeding, grooming, mucking and more. Lots of great sensory inputs.
Swimming – The pressure of the water can be very calming and soothing to a lot of people. It is also great for fitness.
Trampoline – Just like for little kids, getting onto a trampoline can be great for sensory processing issues. Plus it’s fun!
Parkour/Obstacle/Ninja Training – Any American Ninja Warrior fans out there? Training for those kinds of obstacle activities is fantastic for getting lots of coordination, strength building and sensory inputs. We made our own temporary course out of tires and it was fantastic fun.
Music – Whether you are singing or beating on the drums or strumming a guitar, there is something very natural and instinctive in the human reaction to music. The creation of rhythms and melodies has a quality that connects deeply with many people.
Dance – Dance is a wonderful way to get sensory inputs, body awareness, strength, coordination and it includes the benefit of music.
Gymnastics – Just like dance, trampoline and parkour, gymnastics is another wonderful sensory activity.
Pottery – Along with other forms of art, pottery is a fantastic way to work with textures. And working on a wheel? What a fantastic sensory experience!
Gardening – Working in the garden involves lots of wonderful textures, scents and other sensory inputs. It’s also good physical activity and what a wonderful way to connect with nature.
Slime – OK that sounds strange, but kids of all ages, even your older kids, will love playing with this stuff. It’s crazy addictive and fun. Plus, really quick and easy to make. Grab the instructions on how to make slime here.
These are just a few ideas for sensory activities that are suitable for the older child. In the end it’s about finding what is right for each individual and sometimes that involves lots of trial and error. Also what doesn’t work at one age, may be a great fit at a different age. In the end it’s all about find what works and while you are at it, having lots of fun trying new things!