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How to Help Your Special Needs Teen Make Healthy Life Choices

Raising a special needs child can be extremely rewarding, however, it presents unique challenges. Parents may worry about affording their child's care or stress about their future. The stress this brings is significant. For instance, one study indicates that mothers of autistic adolescents or adults actually have stress hormone levels comparable to those of Active Duty soldiers.

Your fears may become even more profound as your child gets older and starts to carve out a life of their own. You want to ensure your kid is making healthy life decisions as they get older. UCP of Central Florida understands that parents never stop learning, so they are happy to present you with some additional tips and tools to help give your teen the tools they need to make healthy everyday choices.

Create a Healthy Home Environment

Healthy habits start at home. Create a soothing space filled with positive vibes where your entire family can feel at ease. One can start by removing clutter, which Mayo Oshin notes can incite feelings of anxiety, and adding more greenery. Plants are proven to reduce anxiety and can help clean the air and reduce stress levels. Ensure to explore non-toxic options so that you don’t have to worry about any incidents.

Keeping stress levels low at home can be challenging, especially when we're juggling multiple responsibilities. However, using an online tool to design a weekly schedule can help to stay organized and reduce stress. By mapping out our tasks and assigning specific times for them, we can prioritize our workload and ensure that we have enough time for self-care activities as well. Whether it's work-related tasks or household chores, having a clear plan in place can make all the difference in terms of productivity and stress management. So why not give this a try? There are numerous free online tools available that can help you create a customized weekly schedule that suits your needs and preferences.

Make Healthy Eating the Norm in Your Household

Special needs children often face nutritional challenges. As explains, kids with limited mobility due to conditions like Down syndrome may struggle with obesity.Moreover, kids with Autism may have negative reactions to foods with certain textures. Navigating your child's relationship with food while ensuring they get the nutrients they need is tough. Try setting family meal guidelines and making nutrition a collaborative effort. You can prepare recipes together.

To help make healthy eating an easier choice, look into adding some cooking tools and gadgets to your kitchen. Just be sure to check out unbiased online reviews first. You can find great ideas for things to help you out at home.

Find Ways to Make Exercise Fun

Exercise is essential for people with special needs. Physical activity can support healthy weight loss, boost energy, and enhance mental health. Motivating your teen to get moving isn't always easy. The key to success is finding a form of exercise they love. Encourage your child to try different styles of exercise. Kids with physical disabilities might be able to take part in modified baseball, soccer, or flag football, or other sports.

Discuss Temptations Like Drugs and Alcohol

Your teen will inevitably be confronted with drugs and alcohol. Don't try to shield your special needs child from this reality; instead, talk openly about drugs and alcohol and the negative impact they can have on your child's health. This is especially important if your child takes any kind of medication that could interact negatively with drugs or alcohol. Discussing these tough topics with teens requires special handling, but if you go at it properly, you can see positive results. It’s best to bring the subject up sooner rather than later. Avoid making accusations, don’t catch your child off-guard, and avoid scare tactics.

Give Your Child Positive Role Models

Giving kids positive role models is a great way to inspire them to make healthy life choices. Look specifically for role models for differently-abled kids-- covering both real-world personas and people portrayed in film and television shows. You can also connect your child to resources that might put them in contact with role models, such as the Special Olympics. Try discussing your child's role models and having them identify what qualities they admire.

Speaking of role models, don’t forget that you yourself can be the best role model your child will ever have, whether that’s demonstrating good day-to-day behaviors or pursuing lofty goals like going back to school for that healthcare degree you always wanted. If it’s something that you always intended to do but didn’t make time for it, look for a program that offers flexibility so you can meet your other obligations. There are online colleges that allow you to do anything from becoming an IT professional to earning your accounting degree. Look for opportunities to show your child that with perseverance, it can be done.

Watching your special needs child become a teen can be bittersweet. However, knowing you've given them the tools they need to make healthy life choices can bring you peace of mind. Follow the above tips to get started, and remember -- you can do this!

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