Parents of teenagers with disabilities might wonder about how to help them through the tough adolescent years. Issues can include what they can do more, when to back off, what to expect, and how to balance taking care of their teen with disabilities and the rest of their family. Keeping these points in mind, while taking an optimistic approach can help parents see their child with disabilities enter the tough teen years.
Teenagers with disabilities are still teenagers. Teen life is challenging and complex- teens face a time when they are going through extreme emotional and physical changes, seeking independence, and becoming sexually aware. Children with disabilities most likely have the same feelings and interests with other children in their same age group entering teenage years.
Teen traits are a sign of normal development. However, teens that have a disability carry more problems. Their disability can add extra emotional and physical challenges. It can affect their ability to be accepted by peers, they can develop poor self-image issues, and it can affect their ability to participate in class or extra-curricular activities. These teens may become frustrated, depressed, or angry. Remember, they are going through a huge hormonal shift in their life and need their parents to be understanding.
Parents need to try to be as patient with their teen as possible. Try not to be controlling and speak with your child about their experiences and how they feel. Ask them what they need from you in order to address problems together. If they need you to back off a little, then grant them that request.
Help your teen by staying positive and upbeat yourself. Build on their achievements and encourage them to develop their interests and talents. Don’t limit their activities only to special education activities and classes with other teens with disabilities. Guide your teen toward a happy, active life by allowing them to interact with other teens that may not have any disabilities.