Teaching Life Skills to Children with Unique Challenges

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Editor’s Note: This article was taken from the educational blog on the Brain Balance Achievement Centers website (www.brainbalancecenters.com).

Neurobehavioral disorders like ADHD, Asperger’s and processing 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 decisionmaking 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 difficulties with organization more obvious and more troublesome than in childhood, leading to chronic high stress levels for many adults with neurobehavioral challenges.

Preparing for Adulthood

Parents of children with neurobehavioral issues 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 these children 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 neurobehavioral issues are likely to encounter in adulthood. For example, children with Asperger’s syndrome often have poor money management skills.

To improve this skill, parents 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.

Supporting 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.

Zach PetterDr. Zach Petter and his wife Amanda own Brain Balance Achievement Centers in San Antonio and New Braunfels. Brain Balance provides the most comprehensive approach to overcoming the symptoms of ADHD, learning disabilities, processing disorders, Asperger’s syndrome and other childhood learning and developmental issues. The San Antonio center is located at 1742 N. Loop 1604 E. Suite 121. The New Braunfels center is located at 1551 N. Walnut Ave., Suite 1. For information, call 210-620-7378 or visit www.brainbalancecenters.com. healthyfamilies Editor’s Note: This article was taken from the educational blog on the Brain Balance Achievement Centers website (www.brainbalancecenters.com).

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