Future Reflections Special Issue: The Teen Years
by Deborah Kent Stein
The exhilaration when that certain someone asked you to dance; your agony when you realized you wore just the wrong outfit; your mortification each time you had to appear in public in the company of your parents; your triumph at the big competition when you discovered the applause was for you. For most teens, life is sprinkled generously with high-intensity moments such as these. No matter what happens to a teenager, it's the best or the worst ever. Even the ordinary events of an ordinary day are extreme--is any suffering more acute than sheer boredom?
As they take their first steps out of childhood into the unknown adult world, teens face some daunting challenges. Academic demands are suddenly more rigorous, overnight the social scene grows more complex, and in the midst of the turmoil there are life-changing decisions to be made about education and career. Ready or not, the future is bearing down like a locomotive.
Blind teens face all of the challenges their sighted peers must contend with, but blindness can add some extra twists. While sighted kids are pushing against the limits and trying to wave parents good-bye, many blind teens are still catching up on the basic skills of independence. At a point when nearly everyone struggles to fit in, the blind teen may feel isolated and out of place. Yet, like all teens, blind teens find ways to try out new experiences and identities. They test new skills and taste the thrill of achievement.
This issue of Future Reflections examines the teen years from several points of view. Parents, professionals, blind adults, and blind teens themselves explore the many facets and angles of the growing up experience. They write about friendships, academic strivings, and extracurricular activities. They offer practical tips and personal reflections. Sometimes with humor, sometimes with tinges of sadness, but always with hope, they share their stories and their wisdom.
Whatever else one might say about the teen years, they are a memorable time of life. Perhaps these pages will remind you of some of your own teen adventures. Perhaps they will suggest a path for your children or students to follow in the years ahead.