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Ways to become more independent


Helping to take care of your health arrow top

If you think that your parents aren't letting you have enough independence, try to help them out in ways they'd appreciate. For instance, show your parents that you can handle your illness or disability in a careful way. They will see that they can trust you to take care of yourself. They will also see that you know what you can do and what you need help with. Your parents may see that they don't have to worry about you quite so much. (Well, okay — they may still worry. But they'll deal with it better!)

Check out our Health Skills Checklist to see which skills you know well and which ones you need to practice. You also can read more about eating right and other smart steps to take care of your body.

Helping out at home arrow top

Helping out at home is another great way to show your parents that you are becoming independent. Ask your mom or dad for some regular chores. Or, when you see that your parents have their hands full, ask how you can help. Maybe you can watch a younger brother or sister to free up your mom. Maybe you can help with dinner, such as prepare a salad or set the table, or help fold the laundry.

Our Home Skills Checklist lets you see where you shine and what skills you need to polish!

Being a part of your community arrow top

There are many things you can do in your community to get to know others, help out, and show your independence. Talk to your parents about trying out some of these ideas:

  • Use public transportation such as the bus or train.
  • Open a bank account.
  • Spend time at the library.
  • Mail a package at the post office.
  • Volunteer to help out at a community event.
  • Find a bathroom in an unfamiliar building by asking for directions.
  • Join a support group for people with your chronic illness or disability. (Seeing what others who share your disability or illness can do for themselves will empower you to try more.)
  • Be a role model for younger people who share the same illness or disability as you. (Learn more about being a leader.)
  • Find out if your school has a committee that focuses on the needs of students with disabilities. Volunteer to be on the committee — or start one if your school doesn’t have one already.
  • All states have special education advisory panels that help the state's Department of Education make decisions about educating kids with disabilities. Many of these advisory panels welcome student members. Contact the Division of Special Education in your state's Department of Education to see if you can join your state's special education advisory panel.

Source: Adapted from Washington State, Adolescent Health Transition Project


Content last reviewed February 16, 2011
Page last updated October 31, 2013