Brain Awareness for Special Needs Teens


March ushers in Brain Awareness Week. For teens with special needs, brain awareness includes understanding how he or she is growing and changing during their adolescent years and plans to protect themselves from bad decisions.


Teen Brains and Bad Decisions


The teen years are notorious years for risk-taking, poor judgments, and emotional outbursts. That can be a difficult burden to place on students who already are struggling with issues arising from their special needs.


Teens Need Tools


But, by helping teens understand the changes that are happening in their brains and providing them tools to help navigate the terrain of teenaged years, we can provide them with a strong foundation on which to make good decisions.


Download “The Teen Brain”


“The Teen Brain” is a free lesson from Daily Living Skills’ Decision Making. In clear, easy-to-understand language, this lesson explains how teenaged brains rapidly change and grow during these years and how it affects the way kids think.


Here’s how you can use this lesson.


  1. Inform students that March includes “Brain Awareness Week” and that it is a timely topic as teenaged brains grow and change more during those years than they have since the first year of life.

  2. As a group, or in small groups, have students list some risky behaviors they may have engaged in, or some times that they over-reacted. Make a list of the behaviors and display while you read the packet provided.

  3. Read “The Teen Brain.” After you’ve completed pg. 48, ask the students to look at the list of behaviors you’ve posted and ask them to determine if those behaviors were led by the socioemotional center of the brain or the cognitive network. Label each behavior.

  4. Continue reading “Teen Brains 3” to finish the section.

  5. Choose one or more of the behaviors you’ve labeled and have students brainstorm ideas to protect themselves from risky behavior. What are 3 steps they can take to avert decisions that neglect the cognitive network? Some strategies could include: 1) sleeping on it, 2) asking a friend’s advice, 3) talking to a trusted adult, 4) visualizing the consequences, 5) predicting worst-case scenarios.

  6. Allow students to present their plans to protect themselves. Then create a poster for the class titled “The Engaged Brain” and list several steps students could use in order to make sound decisions.

If this lesson works well for your students, you may want to try other lessons in Decision Making or you may want to check out other titles in the Daily Living Skills series.


Books are written on a 3rd/4th grade level and include grading sheets, answer keys, and parent information letters to comply with federal standards for transition skills. The Teacher’s Manual (sold separately) provides information on program set-up and maintenance along with written ITP (Individual Transition Plan) goals for each book.


Sources:

www.newportacademy.com/resources/mental-health/teen-brain-development

Raisingchildren.net.au/pre-teens/development/understanding-your-pre-teen/brain-development.

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