While issues of independence, sexuality, and identity are important for all adolescents, they become of particular concern for chronically ill teenagers because of the interaction of rapid developmental change in these areas with the stresses of chronic illness. Unlike adults with chronic diseases who often need to be rehabilitated so that they can function independently again and resume their sexual lives, adolescents need to be habilitated; they have no prior experience to draw on. Chronically ill children can be sheltered and protected from many stresses by their families, but as they move into the adolescent years, they must be allowed to gradually take over responsibility for their actions. This takes practice, and some mistakes are inevitable. In addition, teenagers with chronic illnesses deserve assistance to help them maximize their strengths and develop a positive self-identity. Health professionals have a significant role to play in encouraging independence, preventing adverse conseqsuences of sexual behavior, and enhancing the self-image of their chronically ill adolescent patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health