Disability? What disability?
In the US, up to 8% of youth under 24 have some kind of disability. They may have been disabled from birth. Or have a newly acquired complication. Their disability may be obvious— as in the case of wheelchair users. Or invisible—which includes mental illness, autism spectrum disorder, diabetes, lupus or others. Whatever their situation, most just want to be treated the same as other kids.
Enter their world
The Spoon Theory To know what living with a disability or chronic illness is like, Christine Miserandino, a prominent blogger and Lupus sufferer, has developed The Spoon Theory. In short, it explains that normal people start each day with endless possibilities (spoons) and have enough energy to do whatever they want. But those with chronic illnesses and disabilities start each day with limited possibilities (spoons). So even mundane actions—getting out of bed, dressing, getting to work—drains their physical resources. Because their energy levels vary drastically day to day, kids with disabilities have difficulty making plans and following through with them. Keep this in mind if they frequently cancel plans with you. Read more about The Spoon Theory here: https://butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/thespoon-theory/
What to Do
Accommodate Find out what—if any—special arrangements they’ll need and make sure it can happen. Empower Help them become an advocate for themselves—especially in issues surrounding school and classes. Encourage Get them to talk to teachers about keeping up with assignments and making up missed work. Also help them find tutoring services for periods of extended absences. Advise Have them document conversations (preferably via email) to make it easy to hold teachers and school administrators accountable to promises for accommodations. Research Offer to help them look for special resources in your community.