Being a parent can be an anxiety-producing experience at all ages and stages. In recent years, much focus has been placed on how modern 20-somethings are slower to adopt traditional adult responsibilities, like becoming financially independent, than previous generations. Many parents fret when their children are still deciding on a career path and living at home well into their 20s. For parents of children with learning disabilities (LD) and AD/HD, this can be amplified—they may seem to be on an even slower path to adulthood with their own unique bumps along the road. But recent neurological research is showing that parents with these concerns have reason to calm down.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “Delayed Development: 20-Somethings Blame the Brain," examines how neuroscientists are increasingly viewing the years from 18-29 as a distinct stage of development where areas of the brain responsible for planning, prioritizing, and controlling impulses are still developing. Until recently, scientists thought that the brain was fully developed post-puberty.
All of this change and development means that it makes biological sense that 20-somethings may seem to be stuck in self-discovery mode. But scientists say this extended period of brain development may be an advantage, allowing young adults to adapt to changing environments.
While the studies covered by the article do not specifically look at young adults with LD, we know that individuals with LD have different—if not delayed—paths to neurological maturity. This article offers a lens though which to consider the timeline for overall maturity and decision-making in young adults, including those who have LD, AD/HD, and other disorders that impact attention, learning and emotional well-being. Young adults with LD may seem to be on their own, unique (and perhaps seemingly slower) developmental pathway to independence, but parents can rest assured that indecision is a normal feature of “emerging adulthood.” To learn more, read the article in the Wall Street Journal.