As we all know, becoming a teenager means significant upheaval, not only physically, but in terms of friendships, in terms of learning, and life outlook. This is also true for adolescents with cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities. We know that whilst we may of spent a lot of time focusing on their physical abilities and other difficulties it is not the only part of their life.
That's why we need start to talk about the whole process of transition early.The one thing that happens during the early teen years and adolescence is young people start to focus on what each other is doing and there is a very strong peer influence. They want to be seen with the right people. They want to be out and about. And importantly, they don't want to miss out.
In the early teens years it is important for young people to feel comfortable with their own bodies. There needs to be a shift in the conversation about how their limbs might look or the tightness they experience to asking what is important to them. What goals would they like to achieve? What activities do they like to do? Are they happy with the way they look? Are they unhappy? And getting more of their input on what they want out of treatment.
As a young person reaches the age of 18, they've largely finished growing. And whilst we focused a lot over the previous years of what the impact of growth is upon their body and their skeleton, we reach an age where that's largely complete. And what's really important is that we sit down with that young person at 18 and reflect on the choices they've made and help them plan for the choices in their future ahead.
"What's really important is that we sit down with that young person at 18 and reflect on the choices they've made and help them plan for the choices in their future ahead."