Adults & Teens With Sensory Processing Challenges

While many often think of sensory processing disorder as a condition exclusive to children, undiagnosed difficulties can impact adults and teens just as profoundly. Fortunately, research is finding that even the more mature human brain can change and adapt with intervention. Whether you’ve had a known diagnosis that includes sensory processing difficulties, have consulted numerous professionals for symptoms you can’t explain but so far have found no relief, have been wrongly diagnosed, or have lived much of your life thinking something is just “off”, intervention for a sensory processing disorder may be your answer.

For more information on sensory processing disorder, click here.

Common Symptoms for Adults & Teens

Sensory processing issues affect adults and teens along a wide continuum. Some individuals struggle with symptoms that significantly affect their daily lives, while others experience more subtle challenges. Problems processing sensory information can impact your personal, professional and/or academic life in ways that are not easily understood by you or others.

Some common challenges include:

  • Emotional reactivity to situations or circumstances that others seem to tolerate easily
  • Emotional reactivity without understanding why
  • Withdrawing from others and social situations
  • Anger/aggression/depression
  • Poor concentration and/or attention
  • Feelings of being disorganized and/or confused in certain situations or environments
  • Difficulty making decisions or problem solving with confidence
  • Being easily overwhelmed in crowded environments such as a sporting event, restaurant or store
  • Difficulty at work or school
  • Clumsiness/poor coordination
  • Being accident prone
  • Difficulty with balance
  • Fear of heights or movement – i.e. using escalators, elevators, stairs, negotiating uneven terrain
  • Difficulty driving
  • Intolerance of loud sounds or certain pitches of sound
  • Intolerance of certain visual input – i.e. bright lights, fast moving objects
  • Intolerance of certain smells or tastes
  • Intolerance of physical touch which impacts relationships with others
  • Intolerance of touch related to clothing or grooming tasks
  • Reluctance to go to the doctor or dentist due to the above sensory challenges
  • Problems socializing or maintaining intimate relationships with others

How Treatment Works


Effective treatment begins with a thorough evaluation. Our evaluations are generally completed over 2 separate sessions. They include an in-depth interview, inventories and checklists, objective testing, and clinical observations during structured and unstructured activities. Our goal is to find the right “why” behind the challenges you’re experiencing so that together, we can apply the correct interventions.

Your therapist will then analyze and interpret all the data and create a detailed and comprehensive report. Included in the report will be goals and objectives that the two of you identified together, as well as recommendations for a plan going forward.

Treatment for adults and teens looks a bit different than treatment for children. While direct intervention is part of the process, an important focus will be on education and consultation with you regarding work/school/lifestyle changes and home programming. True changes are most possible when you understand how each of the sensory systems works, which sensory systems are most problematic for you, and why you respond to certain sensory input the way you do. With this knowledge comes the ability to be more in control of your sensory needs, your environment, as well as advocate for yourself when it’s necessary.

Our primary goal is for you to more confidently and joyfully embrace those things in life that are most important to you. By identifying your sensory differences, understanding how and why they impact your day-to-day function, making certain lifestyle changes, and participating in the therapeutic process, change IS possible!