Special Needs In Adolescents And Maturity.

1622 words - 6 pages

Special Needs Adolescents and Maturity:Are There More Challenges?In recent years there has been a great deal of public concern about adolescents identified as "at risk" of a variety of social ills, such as drug addiction, criminal behavior, teen pregnancy, drunk driving, and dropping out of school. While these risks may be life impairing, if not life-threatening, there is another risk that adolescents face: failing to develop maturity, or the qualities necessary to function as an adult. Psychosocial researchers define maturity as "readiness to assume competently the roles typical for men and women in a modern industrial society" (Inkeles and Leiderman 52). Inkeles and Leiderman propose six qualities associated with maturity: efficacy, perseverance, planfulness, responsibility, individualism, and cooperativeness (52).Assuming all adolescents must achieve a level of these six characteristics to be mature, the question is raised: are there greater challenges for adolescents with special needs like Icy Sparks in Gwyn Hyman Rubio's novel Icy Sparks? The novel Icy Sparks chronicles the life of a young girl growing up in rural Kentucky in the 1950's who is afflicted with Tourette syndrome (307). Tourette syndrome (TS) is described as an inherited tic disorder but it may also be acquired by environmental, infectious, and psychosocial factors (Hendren 22). One researcher in the March 2002 volume of the magazine Current Health offered an easily understood, concise definition of TS:TS is a disorder of the nervous system. It involves a variety of voice and movement tics. Different people with the disorder may have different symptoms. These change over time and can affect any muscle group in the body. People with TS may jerk their head or flail their arms. They may clear their throat repeatedly; sniff objects, grunt, or bark. A very small number may even curse (Abramovitz 26).According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association, to be diagnosed with TS, a person must have both motor tics and vocal tics occurring for at least one year without a "tic-free" period greater than 3 months (111).Efficacy, as defined by Inkeles and Leiderman, is the personal conviction that one can successfully accomplish actions required to produce a desired result (53). To have efficacy a person must believe in himself/herself and have faith he/she has what it takes to complete a given task. The environment of individuals may effect whether or not they have efficacy in a given task. Developmental studies have shown that parents may influence their children's efficacy by demonstrating faith in them. Children basically strive to meet the expectations of their parents: if the parent expects them to fail, they will; if the parent expects them to succeed, they will give every effort to do so (Berk 452). That is, if others demonstrate a belief in children, children are more likely to believe in themselves.In the novel...

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