Basic Behavioral Principles
Raising a teen isn’t easy under the best of circumstances. Teens with DS have some additional issues. If your teen has delayed auditory sequential processing, you may have very childish behavior coupled with very adolescent desires for autonomy. To make matters more complex, your teen may also lack a lot of “world experience” making it harder to interact in a mature manner.
How you handle teen behavior will be partially dependent on the processing level of the teen or young adult. If the individual is processing at a three, meaning able to take in three random pieces of information and give it back to you accurately, that individual will be bullish to have his or her own way. This is not an individual really able to problem solve or take other’s feelings into account. For this situation, it is good to have basic rules of conduct. There can be areas of conduct which are non-negotiable. These may be basic hygiene requirements, bedtime, attendance and obeying the rules at school, church or work. At a three level of processing, the individual will try hard to make their own choices in all areas that are perceived as negotiable whether they are practical or reasonable. It is best to keep a positive environment pointing out the good things in all situations.
If the teen or young adult is processing at a four or above, they are more likely to be able to understand contingencies, changes in plans and the issues facing others. The higher the auditory sequential processing level the more the individual is able to understand and appreciate the need to take other people’s issues into account and wait for things that they want. There continues to be a need to understand and accept basic responsibilities. Individuals learn to accept responsibilities by being given more responsibilities.
Increasing the amount of chores and independent tasks that are expected to be completed as the individual becomes older leads not only to increased self-worth but to improved functional processing and a more productive lifestyle. Living a life with a level of responsibility equivalent to a three year old does not promote mature behavior or a sense of self-worth or of self-determination. It is never to late to begin this process. Individuals at any age can learn to take care of themselves better, handle household tasks and complete required tasks while following some basic rules. The important thing is for parents to teach them, constantly increasing and improving their skills and knowledge. Continuing education is essential both in the home and in the community.