Age Appropriateness Activity for Teenagers with Special Needs

A lot of my students enjoy things that many elementary students like, and well developmentally that's where most of them are. But they are in high school. It really makes me cringe when one of my 16 year old students tells me that his favorite movie is the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I sigh, but at the same time, if that's what entertains him in his free time, at least he has something he enjoys doing for a leisure activity. But you better believe I will continue to press more age appropriate ways of entertainment!

One thing I definitely want my students to know is the difference between items for little kids and items for teens/adults. Lets be honest, many students with special needs are attracted to the Disney character lunch boxes or the bright colorful backpacks that are geared toward preschool and younger aged children. It just doesn't look as cute on a 250 pound high schooler. It doesn't help them fit in either.

Today in my Work Skills class we read about choosing an appropriate lunch box for work in our weekly story. (We use the PCI "How to Get Along with People at Work" book) .

After reading and discussing that, we sorted items for little kids and items for teens. We also talked about being cool and mature. They did really well with this sort! I hope it helps them (and maybe even some of their parents) to realize what is appropriate for them at their age.
age appropriate sort
You can download this Kids/Teens sorting activity here.

Freebie Fridays 
Hope you find this helpful in your classroom! I would love to know if you use it.


  1. This is one of my frustrations with many secondary classes. Thanks for great ideas of how to fight it. I figure what kids choose to do for leisure at home is their choice but at school we have to do our best to teach them more age appropriate activities. Thanks!

    Autism Classroom News

    1. Definitely, a time and a place for everything. Even in my class, I'll allow something like "Thomas the Train" to be a reward for a certain student because it motivates him so much. However, I do take time to introduce him to other things that I hope he would like that would be more age appropriate.

  2. Sometimes it is difficult to draw a line, especially when a certain item/character is part of the current "popular" culture. I teach in middle school, and I see many students in the halls with angry birds, Elmo, Spongebob, and Hello Kitty gear, to name a few I saw this week. It could be just middle school and not at the high school level. Thanks for sharing your idea, though, I will definitely use it in my class.

    1. I agree! Actually Angry Birds and SpongeBob are some of the age appropriate things that I encourage my students to watch/play/whatever. I even know some adults who like Hello Kitty! :) I figure it is fine as long as it's not going to make my students look "weird" or inhibit them from interactions with their peers

  3. I LOVE this!! Doing this with my class ASAP! :)

    - Sasha
    The Autism Helper

  4. I'm a K-5 sp.ed. teacher. This hits pretty close to home for me because of when my kids get close to transitioning to middle school. I think the technology/media piece plays a pretty big role in helping the students too.

    FYI I found you through Fifth in the Middle: Blogs by State. And now I'm your mewest follower!

    Digital: Divide & Conquer

  5. Thanks for the information. I have a 16y/o and my biggest problem is she is too old for most programs or they are really costly. If you have any advice or links to any resources in Ga.that you know about it would really be helpful.


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