Sensory breaks are a necessary part of our day. Stress triggers are everywhere, and while I can try to reduce some of those triggers, it’s impossible to totally eliminate them all.
If I’m not careful, anxiety will take over and that does not look pretty around here. So, we take sensory breaks. It can be challenge to get my Aspie teen to take a “sensory break” without making him feel like a baby. If I’m not careful, telling him to take a break, will just stress him out even more. So, I’ve had to find some tools that are useful as calming aids yet still interest him without making him feel “weird”.
A sensory break for us lasts about 15-30 minutes, and removes my child from the trigger environment. For example, if he’s compulsing over the blinds in the living room, he will have to go into the bedroom (away from the blinds). It’s not a punishment. But, it’s important to move away from the trigger. Sometimes that means going into his room, other times it means staying out.
I thought I’d share our favorite “toys”, if you will. It’s hard to find stuff that an older child will be interested in “playing” with, but these tools work for my son, and he’s 14. These five tools aid in calming him down, and if he’s willing to follow the plan, they work every time!
We have two of these little handheld Liquid Motion Desk Toys . They are perfect for “on the go”. I often bring one in the car and my purse. It’s nice to have something to take his mind off things when we’re out and about. They’re captivating and work like magic. When you sense your child is stressed, toss him one of these babies and give it 5 minutes.
What teen doesn’t love a Lava Lamp ? My son has one in his room, and this has actually become a tool he uses without prompting. When I see the lamp on, I know I should leave him alone. It’s funny. He’s learning to manage himself so well these days. Sometimes I don’t even tell him to take a sensory break. He just knows himself, and takes action. So proud!
My son has one of these Plasma Balls on his desk in his room. They are another great tool for shoving your senses in the right direction and telling your brain to focus on something else.
These are perfect for older children and teens! They’re just plain cool. You can look at the official Bucky Ball site or buy a generic brand of Magnetic Balls on Amazon. We have the official Bucky Balls, so I can’t say that the generic work as well, but these tiny magnetic balls can be manipulated like clay. It’s like play-doh for a teenager! The Big Book of Bucky is this crazy little how to guide with “recipes” of how to to make everything you can possible think of with these things. My son loves these!
And last but not least…
A fish tank. We have several tanks here. It’s kinda weird, but they are so soothing for my oldest, and they’re great for the whole family. If you don’t want to commit to an aquarium, your child can get the same benefits from something like a Desktop Water Fountain. So relaxing!
With a little creativity, you can find the sensory tools your Aspie teen can enjoy. Think outside the box. When shopping for teherapy tools for my son, I have found that most of the stuff out there is geared toward younger children. That can tough. I hope these ideas help you and your family!
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