Special Needs & Disabilities: Information for Adults Who Care About Teens
What’s It All About?
Teens with special needs and disabilities are at risk for developing long term physical, mental, or emotional health problems. About 15% of our nation’s teens have special needs, including asthma, attention deficit disorder, autism spectrum disorders, cancer, cerebral palsy, and other chronic health conditions and developmental disabilities. As these children grow into teenagers, it is important for adults to reinforce the message that teens with special needs are unique individuals and cannot be categorized simply by their special need or disability. It is critical that parents, teachers, and other adults provide ample opportunity for these teens to experience life to the fullest, including education, recreation, friendship, and work opportunities. Adults will need to work closely with teens to help create meaningful, desirable opportunities and to support them so they are fully included in their community and school. Strategies and resources are available to help teens with special needs develop meaningful friendships, recreation and work opportunities. See the resources listed on the back of this fact sheet.
Why Does It Matter?
Adolescence is often a difficult time. Teens with special health needs and disabilities may face even more challenges. Students with disabilities may be at increased risk for physical abuse, victimization by their peers, substance abuse and thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts. To grow into healthy adults, adolescents with special needs and disabilities, like all teens, need a caring and safe environment and help developing a positive view of their future.
What Are The Details?
- Nationally, more than 15% of adolescents 12 to 17 years old have a special health care need.
- In the U.S., boys are twice as likely as girls to received special education services.
- Approximately 8% of adolescents 10 to 17 years of age have some type of activity limitation.
- About 1-in-15 adolescents in Washington have a serious behavioral or emotional problem.
Reprinted with the permission of the Department of Social and Health Services.
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