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Preparing Children with Special Needs for Adulthood

Teaching Life Skills to Children with Aspergers Syndrome (ASD) and ADHD

Neurobehavioral disorders are not just disorders of childhood; they may affect all aspects of adult life. Adults with neurobehavioral disorders often struggle with the same issues as those faced in childhood. Poor time management, disorganization, difficulty with planning and prioritizing, forgetfulness, inconsistency and impulsive decision-making are key symptoms that continue into adulthood.

However, these symptoms often take a different form. The responsibilities of adulthood – paying bills, holding down a job and caring for children, to name a few - can make problems with organization more obvious and more troublesome than in childhood, leading to chronic high stress levels for many adults with special needs.

Tips for Preparing Special Needs Child for Adulthood

Parents of special needs children may want to shield their kids from the numerous challenges they will face as they make the transition to adulthood. However, parents must encourage their children to be as independent as possible, starting at an early age.

Teaching life skills gradually is the key to preparing children with special needs for adulthood, even if stumbles and falls seem inevitable. Although children with special needs are often just as keen to develop independence skills as children without special needs, some traits may make the learning process more difficult. For example, the hallmark traits of ADHD — distractibility and inattention — can lead to trouble with mastering new skills. Parents should avoid introducing too many new skills at once and allow the child more time to accomplish tasks.

In addition to acknowledging the impact of a neurobehavioral disorder on the learning process, parents should identify the specific challenges that children with special needs are likely to encounter in adulthood. For example, children with Asperger’s syndrome (ASD) often have poor money management skills.

When helping a child with Asperger’s syndrome (ASD) prepare for adulthood, parents may decide to focus on strengthening this weakness. They may choose to provide their child with a weekly allowance and work with him or her to create a plan for saving and spending. Once the child has mastered this skill, parents may increase the level of difficulty and switch from a weekly to a monthly allowance.

Adjusting to a Special Needs Child’s Growing Independence

Achieving independence is an important part of the journey into adulthood. To increase the chances of success, parents must grant their children the freedom to try new things. It is common for parents to worry about giving children too much independence too early, but all children need room to grow and develop. Children with special needs tend to mature more slowly and may need more time to learn to take charge of daily life management. When parents are patient and prepare themselves for some trial and error, they can help their children develop essential skills for independent living.

To learn more about why our whole-child approach is the most effective way to help your child, contact us online or find a center near you.

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