How to Manage the Developmentally Delayed Adolescent
Developmental delay is also called mental retardation, according to Mass General Hospital for Children. Adolescents with developmental delay may find that time in their lives to be one of confusion and difficulty. Parents must do all they can to support the developmentally delayed child in her transition to adulthood. Unfortunately very little can be done to reverse developmental delay, however parents can do a lot to shape the attitude and life of the developmentally delayed child.
Understand the specific developmental delay your child has. Developmental delay is different among those who live with it 3. Consult with the child's physician and experts to get detailed information about what the child will likely be going through and the best strategies for dealing with it.
Work at the level of the adolescent. Most developmentally delayed adolescents can be treated and spoken to like adults. Use clear and simple language when communicating. Puberty will affect all adolescents differently, developmentally delayed adolescents are no different. Observe them and listen. It is important for parents to understand the need for the adolescent to "do this on her own." Parents should always offer their support, but be careful not to smother or seem overbearing.
Educate the developmentally delayed adolescent on the birds and the bees. The adolescent will go through the same changes, have the same questions and feel the same things other adolescents of the same age will. It is important for parents to have a frank conversation about the facts of life. Misinformation or lack of information may get the adolescent into trouble. It is important to answer any questions they may have.
Give them independence. This helps the transition from child to adult. While the parent is ultimately in control, the adolescent should feel like her opinion is being heard and is valid; which it is. The child will want to explore on her own and live her own life. Many parents of developmentally delayed children can be protective of their children; which is natural. The parent needs to learn to let the child be her own person, this can be hard to do but should be done. Of course keep in mind the level of developmental delay and adjust behavior appropriately.
Treat them like a normal teenager, if possible. This is something that can be overlooked but is so important for the child's self image. The child should feel normal and accepted like other kids her age. For example, if the child breaks the rules she should be punished: Parents should not let this slide because of her developmental delay. Again the level of developmental delay plays an important role in determining appropriate boundaries.
- "A Parent's Guide to Developmental Delays: Recognizing and Coping with Missed Milestones in Speech, Movement, Learning, and Other Areas;" Laurie LeComer; 2006
- "How to Detect Developmental Delay and What to Do Next: Practical Interventions for Home and School;" Mary Mountstephen; 2011
- "Teaching Individuals With Developmental Delays: Basic Intervention Techniques;" O. Ivar Lovaas; 2002
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