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Helping Teens With LD Develop a Healthy, Balanced Lifestyle

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By Arlyn Roffman, Ph.D.

Tips for Teaching Your Teen to Pursue Rewarding Leisure Time Activities

  • Help your teenager identify her areas of interest and how they might be pursued in the community. Throughout middle school and into high school, children's interests are likely to be in sports and activities sponsored by school or local clubs. As your teen matures, try to help her identify how she might continue to pursue her interests within the larger community after she graduates. Investigate membership at the local YWCA or at nearby gyms for physical activity. Look into the offerings at area centers for adult education or arts centers if she's interested in the arts. Your place of worship may have a chorus that could fill your teen's interest in music. If she's a hiker, check the membership requirements of such affinity groups as the Sierra Club. If she's an avid reader, check whether the local library sponsors a book club for community members. If your teen plans to attend college, help her investigate recreational/interest pursuits on campus.
  • Explore volunteer and community service activities (e.g., the local food pantry or animal shelter) in your area, and discuss whether such volunteer work might be of interest to your teen. If so, consider going with her the first time or two to help her understand what's being asked of volunteers.
  • Teach your child how to compensate for difficulties that interfere with her leisure activities. If she has trouble remembering dance steps she has seen, talk her through the actual movements, step by step, to provide auditory input that will help her recall where her feet should go. If she has difficulty finding her seat at the stadium after she goes for refreshments, advise her to find visual markers and jot them down on a pad of paper. If she worries about not being able to sit still during a performance, suggest that she squeeze a squishy-ball to expend some energy while she stays seated.
  • Help your teen create a master monthly calendar on which to clearly schedule her routine tasks, including school, work, chores, and extracurricular activities. Add non-routine activities, such as doctor's appointments. Note that empty space on the calendar represents free time. Young adults with LD or AD/HD benefit from this level of structure, which provides a visual sense of tasks and of free time for leisure pursuits.

Looking Forward to Independent Adulthood

Children with LD and AD/HD grow into adults with LD and/or AD/HD. But with your support as they acquire the daily living skills addressed in this series, they needn't be handicapped by their disability. They can learn a broad range of skills, which promote a healthy, balanced lifestyle and can look forward to excellent quality of life in their adult years.

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.

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