‘It’s never too early, never too late to take steps toward transition.’

– Gail Kieckhefer, PhD.

Adolescent Transition for Teens with Special NeedsAs parents, you play a central role in your children’s lives. How you fulfill that role changes over time. In the beginning, you do everything for your child. As they grow and develop, they start to do more for themselves and your role shifts. Raising children is filled with all sorts of transitions; each having its particular impact on you. Adolescence is undeniably a big one. When your child has a special health need, it is even more complex. While your role will change over time, your relationship with your child continues to be important in many ways.

Times of transition are often filled with wide ranging thoughts, feelings, and reactions.  For example, you can be hopeful about your child’s future and at the same time, overwhelmed and scared. Being aware of your responses leads to more effective parenting. Knowing yourself helps you stay clear about who’s feeling what; especially during adolescence when you often have to navigate some muddy waters. How much of this is about me? How much is about my teen?

Begin with a hopeful vision for your child’s future and ground it in their potential.  Your perceptions matter. The goal is not about total independence, but rather effective interdependence.

Keys to a successful transition:

  • Shift Gears – Recognize and honor how roles need to change over time. Both you and your child will shift gears. Page includes video of parents sharing real life examples.
  • Sharing Management – Start where you are. It’s never too early or too late to begin sharing management. Page includes brief video of expert, Gail Kieckhefer.
  • Building Confidence – Create opportunities to build confidence and a sense of mastery. Page includes video examples by parents discussing how they have helped build confidence in their children.
  • Collaborative Relationships – Develop collaborative relationships with your child’s health care  providers. Page includes video of Dr. Laura Richardson discussing important role of parents in this transition period.

Also, show your teen the teen section of this website to help them find information to build communication and self advocacy skills, keep track of their own medical information, and more.

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