Resources for parents of at-risk and troubled teens.



November 2010

Teens with Special Needs – Interaction

by Staff, on at risk youth, children with special needs, dealing with teens with special needs, kids, kids with special needs, special needs, special needs children, special needs teens, teens with special needs

Teens with special needs are many; there are dozens of diagnosis that can fall under special needs. These can go from mild learning disorders to mental retardation and development issues and mental issues. There is a great array of issues that fall under special needs. For parents with special needs children this is a part of life, they know very well how difficult or fun it can be with their children, but one of the most difficult problems for those parents and their children is teaching people around them how to interact with their special needs children.

Teens with special needs may be different in one or two ways from other kids their age, but in almost everything they are the same, and should be treated that way. So let’s take a look at how a person should act round teens with special needs and how to intersect with them.

You have to understand that although they are teens with special needs their feelings are no different than that of their peers, which is why you need to be careful. In the end it all comes down to the disability in question, for some you may have to speak louder, for some you may have to lower your voice and for some you may have to watch your activity quite a bit.

One thing you shouldn’t do is pay special attention to teens with special needs; there are several reasons for that. As we said they have feelings like the rest of us, and although some may not look like it, they can get offended and hurt because you are showing pity towards them, in other cases it may build up walls between them and other children.

It is much easier for them to be in similar groups, where there are teens with similar issues. That makes them feel like they are not alone, but if that is not a possibility you should never separate them from their “normal” peers unless there is a good reason for that. They can also play sports, engage in social activities, if you don’t know their limits, don’t try to limit them, learn along them.

For their peers it is important to understand that they should never take advantage of kids with special needs, some of them lack the judgment to differentiate right from wrong and you should never try to get them to do something bad.

All in all you should act around them like you act with your teens; they need independence but also supervision, but like regular teens they also don’t want to be watched 24/7, so give them some free space. When speaking to a teen with special needs make sure that you give them your full attention, make full eye contact and engage them in conversation, they also need someone to listen to them.

In the end they may be a bit immature compared to their peers, so a bit more fun and less reality may be the right recipe, but never underestimate these kids. They can learn to maximize their potential if proper interaction and attention is given. Staff