The teenage years can be a difficult time for all parents and children - especially for teenagers with intellectual disabilities. It is a time where the body undergoes many changes, and a teenager with intellectual impairment is not able to understand what is happening. Tantrums, mood swings and even violence is commonly seen at this stage. Here are a few ideas to help and support teenagers with intellectual disabilities.
School or Work
It is very important for teenagers with intellectual disabilities to have focus in their life. They must attend school, or at least go to work. The intellectual impairment may cause difficulties with learning. It is then important that other vocational options are explored and they have something to do during the day that they can feel proud about. This builds up their self confidence, prepares them for economic independence and also keeps them away from bad habits and other problems seen at this stage.
Responsibilities at Home
It is important to involve teens with intellectual impairments in regular work at home. This helps them understand more about the different types of home maintenance jobs that are required for independent living. This also helps them have an important role in the family.
Teens with intellectual impairments must also be given time and opportunity to explore and do activities that they enjoy, like sports, art or computer games. These help the teens to socialize, and also develop interests that they can use to occupy their time even later in life. Sports are good for teens who tend to get violent, as it gets rid of pent up energy.
Peers and Social Interaction
It is good to keep a watch over the peers and social interactions of a teenager with intellectual impairments. These teens usually have difficulties with interpreting emotions and social behavior, and may often get bullied, teased, or abused. Moreover, they have difficulties with judgment, and may easily fall into addictions like smoking, alcohol or drugs. Thus, parents and family must keep a watch over the friends and groups the teenager is hanging out with, and also guide them in what is right and wrong.
Setting limits is an important part of parenting all through the life of a child, and especially in the teen years. Parents must have set expectations for behavior, responsibilities and time limits. There can be consequences if chores are not done, the teen is back home too late, or they are misbehaving. The consequences can be a decrease in allowance, or even not granting permission to attend a favorite event, or do a favorite activity. However, we must keep in mind that even though the teen has an intellectual impairment, they are not children and should not be treated like little children. Instead, they should be treated with respect.
Thus these are some ideas to help support teenagers with intellectual difficulties. In addition, good educational support will help them reach their maximum level of function and live as independently as possible.