Special Needs Teens Rise to Challenges
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Adolescence is a time of physical and emotional growth, developing independence, and developing an identity, whether your child has special needs or not. The timing may be different for kids with special needs, but the process is the same. They need opportunities to overcome obstacles, handle responsibilities, and face consequences. In short, special-needs kids must learn the life lessons that will prepare them for the future.
Whether they have physical, emotional, or developmental challenges, teens with special needs have to be fully engaged in life—not sitting on the sidelines. As you assess your teen’s ability to contribute to your family and community, here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Your teen may be ready before you are
Your teen may be asking you to acknowledge him as an adolescent, but you haven’t progressed to that phase yet. It happens because your protective instinct runs high; you don’t want your child to be hurt or disappointed by his abilities or inabilities. Shift your focus from the negative and think about how much your child needs this acknowledgement, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally.
Close your eyes and think about the image you have of your child. Do you still see your cute little boy running around with his Thomas the Tank Engine tucked under his arm? If so, take a good hard look at your teenager, close your eyes, and imprint that current image in your mind’s eye. Next time you think about your young man’s capabilities, make sure you see the latter image.
2. Set rules and stick to them
Have your rules and hold to them, too. If you’re unsure what those rules should be, ask your children to identify them and to create the consequences. I assure you that their consequences will be far harsher than yours.
Hold your teen to the same rules as every other family member. Doing so will bolster her self-esteem and help her to feel like an important and equal member of the family.
Give her responsibilities—>