The adolescent with chronic illness Volume 21, issue 2, avril-mai-juin 2009

Service de médecine pour adolescents, pôle adolescent-mère-enfant, CHU de Bicêtre AP-HP, 78, avenue du Général-Leclerc, 94275 Le Kremlin-Bicêtre cedex, France

Adolescence is a time of major physical, emotional, intellectual and psychosocial change. Young teenagers need to become comfortable with their developing body and sexuality, to begin moving towards independence from parents with a greater reliance on peers, to face the future and to make important decisions about their education, career and goals. At that age, medical care needs to be developmentally appropriate. This is all the more important for chronically ill or disabled adolescents, for whom it may be harder to break family ties, feel accepted by peers and plan realistically for the future. Contrary to a commonly held belief, conditions with no or little visibility heighten the competition with “normal” and are not necessarily better tolerated. A good approach to the chronically ill adolescent implies a comprehensive and simultaneous interest for both the adolescent process and the disease itself.