The five senses are faculties that transmit information to individuals. Your sense of hearing alerts you to sounds, while your sense of touch conveys information about your environment, such as whether a texture’s hard or soft. The sense of smell warns you about unpleasant odours, and your sense of sight enables you to develop visual impressions of people, places, and things. The sense of taste provides insight into foods and other substances you touch with your tongue.
Using your senses effectively can mean the difference between life and death in some situations. Your hearing can let you know predators are nearby when you’re hiking in the woods. Your sense of taste can dissuade you from consuming foods that have gone bad.
Some people have sensory issues and may be overwhelmed by sensory input. Let’s look at how you can host a party for a teenager with sensory sensitivities.
Identify the sensory issue
Sensory sensitivities can be a symptom of other conditions, including autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Some individuals have sensory processing disorder (SPD). Your teen’s sensory issues and needs can vary based on their cause. For example, individuals with SPD may have issues with one sense or struggle with input from all their senses. Making accommodations for the sense of taste won’t help your teen if they struggle with hearing.
Accommodate teens struggling with auditory sensory overload
Auditory sensory overload can overwhelm individuals. People with this challenge may be distracted or overwhelmed when in noisy environments. Some become agitated and experience physical discomfort. Individuals struggling with auditory input issues benefit from developing coping mechanisms to manage their response to auditory stimuli. Alerting individuals to loud noises before they occur can help them prepare. Watching a soothing video, withdrawing from noisy spaces, and counting to ten can also help.
You could host a party for a teen with auditory issues by enabling them to control their auditory input. You can buy or rent silent disco equipment and host a silent disco. Although the name infers silent discos are noise-free parties, the distinction between a silent disco and a regular dance party is that each guest controls their auditory inputs.
Guests wear wireless headphones and choose a channel to connect to during the party. The channel determines what auditory input they receive. Your teen can choose soothing or familiar music they’re comfortable with, managing their sensory issues by controlling what they hear.
Prevent visual sensory overload
The simplest way to manage visual sensory overload involves controlling what’s in your teen’s line of sight. Avoid open environments, such as noisy restaurants or activity centres.
Instead, host a party in a smaller, contained space. Using dim lamps and avoiding bright overhead lights can also help reduce visual stimuli. Since bright lights can trigger visual sensory sensitivities, it’s a good idea to avoid activities with bright lights, such as laser tag.
Avoid activities that prompt multiple people to move quickly in a confined space.
Think about taste and touch
Some people with sensory sensitivities have strong responses to different foods. For some, it’s the taste that triggers a response. For others, it’s the food’s texture that bothers them.
Identify your teen’s dietary needs and plan a menu avoiding foods that trigger their sensitivities. You can also discuss the menu with your teen and ensure they have foods available they can eat, even if you also choose to serve foods they can’t consume.
Teens with taste issues won’t do well with food-related games such as the licorice challenge or hanging donuts game. A teen with touch sensitivity may be happier hosting a video game party where guests interact through a game instead of engaging in physical activities, such as swimming.
Consider the cause and nature of your teen’s sensory sensitivities when planning their party. Avoid activities triggering sensory issues and plan preferred activities, such as silent discos and video game parties.