How to Help Your Handicapped Teen

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Dear “And You Will Have Kids”,

My daughter is turning 16 next month.  All of her friends are driving or planning to drive in the near future.  Because of some serious health issues she has, she will not be able to drive.  Perhaps this will change in the future, but for now, it is just not safe for her to be behind the wheel of a vehicle.

She’s mad and upset.  I’m not sure what to say to help her.  Any ideas?

Just a Mom

 

Dear “Just a Mom”,

Driving is viewed as a rite of passage in many countries, especially here in the United States.  Not being able to drive can significantly affect your teen’s life in a variety of ways.

Two of my children have a degenerative eye disease which will cause them to lose all of their sight.  Last year, the doctor told me that both of them have lost so much of their vision that they will not be able to pass the state eye exams.  My children will never be able to drive.

I say this to tell you that I have had a similar experience with my children.  For several months, there was little I could say to them to make things “better”.  They grieved over the fact that they would never be able to drive.  The fact that many of their friends were talking about driving made it worse actually.

After they had worked through their grief and begun to accept the reality of the situation, I asked their teacher, who is blind, to speak to them.  She spoke to them about how she hires drivers, and how she uses the bus system and the handicap bus system to get around the area.  She assured them that her social life was very active and that she was very independent; she just had to work a little bit harder to achieve that independence. 

Since then, she’s taken the girls shopping, and out for lunch.  They’ve realized that their disease will affect their life, but that their life will go on.  Although they will never be able to drive, they can still have a great social life!

You don’t mention the health condition that your daughter has, but I’d suggest looking online for support groups.  Perhaps you can find a group in your area, or a support group online.  Perhaps you can find a teen support group for your daughter too. 

For my children, part of the difficulty was the feeling like they were all alone dealing with this difficult disease.  They felt that everyone else would be driving but them.  Once they found out that this wasn’t the case, it made their situation a little more bearable.

As a mom, the best thing you can do is to encourage your child and listen to her concerns and fears.  You may not be able to magically make the situation better, but listening to her is so important!

I wish you and your daughter all the best.

 

 

 

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