Sensory Overload

Teens learning to navigate in their world while living on sensory overload was the general topic of discussion with Farrell Lindley and Bernie Zimmerman at IECA Philadelphia 2011. In this workshop Lindley and Zimmerman related the benefits of connecting experiential learning with our sensory receptors in order to develop a manageable skillset for everyday living. Although the presentation began focusing on teenagers it personalized as we became involved in role playing and had hands on experience with some of the tools of the trade.


Sensory processing is one of the fundamental elements of emotional, social, cognitive and motor development Lindley said. Given that, it only makes sense that teenagers, who often have difficulty transitioning during those years, are on overload because their sense of smell, touch or hearing needs calibrating. One example Lindley related was a student of hers whose issues were centered on needing to bear-hug people in order to get an emotional fix. By allowing him to wear a pressure vest he was able to, over time discern how to hug without making the recipient feel threatened.

By utilizing other tools like a squeeze ball, weighted blanket, noise canceling head phones and handling textured objects, participants were able to identify with teens who are on sensory overload and see first-hand how this type of therapy works.

Zimmerman and Lindley have worked with many students at Cherry Gulch and by using these type of intervention strategies have been able to help teenagers on sensory overload cope.

Lane Taylor