Mentor Tip: Teen Support

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Subject: Mentoring tips on teen support

Adults can help young people lead self-determined lives by being sensitive to the language they use, by promoting positive relationships with adults and friends, by encouraging participation in activities, and by giving young people choices. The following story demonstrates the significant effect supportive adults can have on young people with disabilities.

Those adults who have contributed to my success tended to either create opportunities for further development for me or help me to pursue a certain activity by coming up with creative adaptations, by implementing my suggestions for adaptations, or simply by encouraging me. For example, throughout my childhood, two relatives of mine who functioned as grandmothers made an effort to let me touch everything interesting around their house, in their yard, and on walks and visits to other places. These experiences supplemented my exposure to plants, animals, sculptures, and many other things. On the academic side, my first- and second-grade teacher gave me extra work that furthered my education. She was great at responding to the individual needs of students. In contrast, my fifth grade math teacher asked me to just listen instead of participating in class when we went over a test on which I had received a high grade. This made me want to fail the next test, so that I would be allowed to participate in the class discussion. (I did not fail the next test, thanks in part to my parents' intervention). In graduate school, a professor teaching a class on reading and drawing weather maps suggested that I come to his office once a week so that he could discuss the material with me. He made it possible for me to succeed in this required class. (Ph.D. candidate who is blind)