Teenagers and LDs
Parenting a child with learning disabilities (LDs) is not a simple thing. Parenting a teenager is fraught with challenges, but the greatest repository for solid, useable advice is listening to the experience of other parents. Here are some suggestions to help you parent your teenager with LDs:
1. Find Yourself Some Community Support
There ARE other people in positions similar to your own – and they could all use somebody to talk to as well. You can find support groups, discussion groups, and possibly friends, through organizations like the LDAO local chapters, school communities and online. The group you affiliate with may offer you a broader bank of points of view, shoulders to lean on, practical advice and strategies, and then may allow you the chance to pass on the same things to the next parent who needs it.
2. Be Aware of What’s Coming Up
The teen years are years of intensive growth and change. Expectations on your child are going to increase during these years, at school and in public as well as at home. Adolescents need to go through this in order to develop independence and prepare for adulthood – but not all young people progress at the same rate, and some may need more or longer periods of parental help.
Keep in mind that your teenager may feel the pressures to “keep up” with peers, and may feel badly to be even slightly out of step with them. Also keep in mind that your own peers may expect you to do the same, with regard to a schedule for removing supports or granting freedoms.
Essentially, keep in mind that your teenage child will move through the stages of development, just as they did with the school curriculum, with accommodations made for their learning disabilities. Students in high school will naturally face more of the challenges of independence, and you can use these as practice runs for development. For example, your child will be expected to begin to self-advocate in high school. With support and preparation, you can help this happen, giving your teen the chance to prepare for life. They will get there – at a pace that works for them and your family!
3. They’re Leaving Home
Someday! It may not feel like it, but this is more than likely their goal. If you treat the teenage years as serious preparation for this fact and continue with healthy communication, you can help them do so with the least amount of strife.
4. Remember How You Felt
Adolescence is not an easy time. Keep this in mind when things get tough, and don’t take apparent rejections as reflections on you or your parenting abilities. This can be easier if you are not alone during this time. See point 1.
When all else fails, be kind to your teenager and kind to yourself. An average parent will experience issues during these years, and when you add LDs into the equation it can become extra challenging. So be prepared to say sorry and admit when you have made a mistake. You and your teenager will both be thankful you did.