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Helping Teens With LD Develop a Healthy, Balanced Lifestyle

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By Arlyn Roffman, Ph.D.

Managing Medication:

  • Model how to consult with a pharmacist. Point out that pharmacists are available to advise patients regarding correct dosages of new medications, possible side effects to watch for, and to help create a schedule of exact times when pills should be taken.  

  • Encourage your teen to enlist trustworthy family members or friends to help him read medicine labels and directions. Remind him of the importance of reading about each new medicine before taking it.

  • Show your child how to measure liquid medication (e.g., cough syrup) using a hollow-stem medicine measuring spoon (available at most drug stores).

  • Demonstrate how to mark similar-looking medicine bottles with brightly colored tape so your child can readily tell one from the other.

  • Show your teen how to set his wristwatch or cell phone to alert him when it's time to take the next dose of medicine.

Achieving Life Balance: The Importance of Leisure Activities

Most parents recognize that their teens with LD or AD/HD need extra support to learn how to manage their physical health. However, many fail to realize that their children would also benefit from help in learning how to plan and pursue leisure activities that contribute to good health, foster a sense of wellness, and bring balance to their lives.

Too often, teens with LD and AD/HD know quite well what they like to do but don't know how to translate interest into activity or have no one with whom to engage in leisure pursuits. If they are to have the quality of life we all wish our children to experience, it's important to help them identify their strengths and interests and find satisfying ways to pursue them.

There are a variety of ways having a learning disability or AD/HD might affect an individual's leisure time pursuits, including:

Learning or Attention Problem

Challenges to Social Life and Recreation


Difficulty deciphering game rules


Trouble keeping score in games (e.g., bowling)

Receptive language (understanding written or spoken language)

Problems understanding what is said in interactive settings; difficulty understanding jokes and figurative language

Visual memory

Trouble remembering game plays, dance steps, or how to set up a board game

Visual motor

Problems executing dance steps or playing ball (catching, batting, kicking)

Auditory motor

Difficulty dancing or clapping to rhythm

Auditory discrimination

Problems discriminating sarcasm from joking based on someone's tone of voice

Visual discrimination

Difficulty discriminating between  sarcasm and joking based on a speaker's facial expression

Visual figure-ground discrimination (trouble focusing one's vision on a single item against a "busy" visual background)

Problems tracking the ball or puck in spectator sports; finding a friend in a crowd; finding one's seat again after going for refreshments in a theater or sports stadium

Social perception

Difficulty modulating voice volume/laughter/weeping in theaters, restaurants, and other public places where low voice volume is the norm


Problems sitting still during a performance or game


Difficulty maintaining concentration on the game or activity at hand

Arlyn Roffman, Ph.D., an expert on transition issues in special education, is a Professor at Lesley University, where she served as founding director of Threshold, a transition program for young adults with learning disabilities, from 1981 to 1996. She has served on the professional advisory boards of several national LD organizations and maintains a private practice in psychology.

Comments from readers

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