The academic demands increase with every year of high school. Even if kids made great strides in middle school, they know the work will get more challenging. At the same time, they have to speak up more for what they need, or self-advocate.
What you can do: Remind kids of the support they have—both at school and at home. Encourage them to reach out to teachers for help. Kids who have an
can reach out to the IEP case manager, too, and even ask about having self-advocacy goals included in the IEP. You can also:
Social situations can also be a source of stress for teens. They might feel pressure to fit in, to be popular, and to have a lot of friends—whether these are real friends or not. And as teens get more independent, they may find themselves in new and even risky situations where they need to make tough choices.
In high school, kids have to start thinking about what kind of career they want to pursue. They also have to choose a path: college, work, vocational training. Kids with IEPs will go through a formal process to plan that transition. But that alone may not lessen the stress.
What you can do: Remind kids that feeling unsure or worried about the future is normal. Explain that there are many ways to thrive and be happy in life. You can also:
Encourage your child to watch the documentary Being You. It’s about three young people who learn and think differently who travel around the country to explore what the future may hold for them.
5. Concerns About College
Just thinking about college can be stressful for kids who learn and think differently. But the process of getting in has its own stressors. These include college entrance exams, filling out applications, and choosing a school.
What you can do: Talk about types of colleges and how they differ. You can work together to find colleges that are a good fit. If your child is eligible, talk about how you’ll work with the case manager to get college testing accommodations. You can also:
Give your child a sense of control by discussing which might be a better fit: the SAT or ACT.
It’s natural for teens who learn and think differently to feel stressed out. But ongoing stress can build and sometimes may lead to mental health issues. Know the signs of anxiety and depression. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your health care provider if you have concerns.