What are some challenges for adolescents with disability? How these challenges are different for different adolescents and for different disability problems? What is the difference between an adolescent who got disabled in some way after childhood versus an adolescent who got it earlier in childhood? How different types of disabilities bring challenges in the life of the adolescent and how the adolescent can cope with these challenges?
These are some complex questions that are affected from the disability, the environment and genetics of the adolescent. Secondly, disability not only impacts the life of the adolescent but family, friends and other relations. But there is a way to cope with these challenges. Looking at the complexity of these challenges one can say that it is not a simple solution but we need a personalized plan for every adolescent who is going through these challenges.
There are many types of disability and they have unique physical challenges for the disable person. Some of these challenges are minor and some cause major dependency on another adult. For example, a disability may restrict a person’s ability to walk, dress-up, take bath, use the restroom. Other times the disability may make it difficult but not impossible to do self care.
The psychological issues of a disable person arise due to the inability to cope with the challenges. Further pressure from the society, peers, siblings, or parents to become more and more independent can worsen the situation. Although it is a good idea to motivate a physically disabled person to gain as much independence as possible. But, on the other hand it can become worse if the goals we set for our disabled friend are not realistic that they cannot achieve. This can put great mental stress and make it difficult for him to bear the stress. They want to be autonomous but it is not completely possible.
They become sensitive as society stigmatize them as different from their peers. The more they get involve in regular healthy activities the more they will be satisfied. Stigmatization can lower self-esteem, and make a person feel low about self. A healthy adolescent decreases attachment to family as he grows up and enters the youth age. On the other hand, adolescents with disability find it difficult to become independent. It is best not to compare them with other healthy teenagers. They should develop at their own speed. Parents should positively motivate them to learn. This will help them gain more emotional security.
Adolescents believe that they need friends and other people who listen to them. Both healthy and disabled adolescent need good companions to share their happiness and sorrows. Social exclusion from peers can make life of the disabled people difficult. There need to have a support group that help the disabled adolescents in getting more social contacts.
Opportunities and acceptance
To solve the problems that adolescents face due to their disability we need to provide them greater opportunities. They also need greater acceptance among peers inside the educational setting as well as outside. They need social acceptance to allow them to groom themselves psychologically, socially, and emotionally.
There are certain programs inside the schools that focus on engaging adolescents with disability to integrate with the typically developing peers. There need to be more focus on engaging both disable and typically developing adolescents in similar programs. This will help in the physical development of the adolescents with disability.
Integration and inclusion
The inclusion of the adolescents with disability in the regular academic setting is very important. In the recent years there is a lot of work done by the academicians in this regard. The focus is placed on the integration and inclusion of these adolescents with typically developing adolescents. The emphasis i s placed on the inclusion of all adolescents and kids in the academic environment so that no kid is left behind. There is also an emphasis on making least restrictive environment for each student regardless of his/her disability.
Family and siblings
The role of the family including parents and siblings is very important in the positive development of the adolescent. Since childhood there need to have a strong bond between each member of the family. Adolescents with disability need stronger bond with their family members. These adolescents are dependent on their family in many ways. They can gain autonomy as much as is possible with their disability. They not only need physical support but emotional and psychological support to groom.
As far as siblings are concerned, they understand that as their disable siblings will grow they have to take their responsibility. This also causes some emotional and psychological concerns for them. Sometimes there is also some sadness and disappointment as the disable kid enters adolescence and the siblings see that they cannot help them improve.
Adolescents need good companions to share and explore the world. They need good friends to learn and to go through difficult times. Disability makes it hard to grow at the same speed that other typical adolescents do. This makes it difficult for them to make true friends that can stay with them for long. Some social programs focus on giving a platform for disable students to meet and make new friends.
- Maxey, M. & Beckert, T.E. Adolescent Res Rev (2017) 2: 59. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40894-016-0043-y
- That kind of life? Social exclusio and young disabled people with high levels of support needs. “International Online Resource Centre on Disability and Exclusion”. https://asksource.info/resources/kind-life-social-exclusion-and-young-disabled-people-high-levels-support-needs
- The disability archive. University of Leeds. https://disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/library/