The subject of what is okay for kids who happen to be teenagers and happen to also have special needs to be exposed to and who makes those decisions was brought up by a friend of mine over at her blog Coffee Catharsis?
This is a tough matter to deal with because on the one hand it would be nice for them to have the experiences that their neurotypical peers would have, yet they are not able to do that because they do not learn things at the same rate as their peers do nor are they able to grasp the same concepts. As their parents we have to make choices for them as best we can and while we are making those choices we also have to remember that they will become adults and will have to learn to fly on their own too.
We had a school issue come up not long ago where the class wanted to watch The Blind Side. I think the boys, which make up the entire class except for my two girls were more interested in the football then what the story was really about. Anyway the teacher asked for my opinion knowing that all three of my kids were adopted and had come from traumatic pasts. I told her that I did not want Hanna watching the movie. We deal with the adoption and trauma issues here on a daily basis. They did not watch the movie. This is what should happen. When teachers and parents are able to communicate honestly we can come up with what is best for the kids.
We also have a junior, Lauren here and this weekend is prom. Now as much as I would like her to experience this event with her peers it is not going to work, at least not this year. They also have an after prom party which she will be attending. We have a PCA who is willing to work midnight to 4:00 am to accompany her to the event. She is so excited about going. This allows her to participate in a manner which she can handle.
Sometimes I feel like I am saying "no" a lot. I know that we as parents had rules for our neurotypical kids too, but they were able to make choices of who their friends were going to be, what games they played, what they read, how they were going to earn and spend their money, etc. With these kids parents, teachers, PCAs, and older siblings are really making these decisions for them because they are not able to do it for themselves. Four of our kids will never be able to decide for themselves how to run their day to day lives.
We let them have some control over what happens by letting them make simple choices. Even with these sometimes I want to step in and say 'hey do not do that, you are messing up', but I don`t do that of course I let them mess up. This morning we had such an experience. Hanna had not brought her dirty clothes to the laundry so she did not have anything to wear to school. She chose to borrow a pair of navy blue, basketball shorts from Allen and wore that with a long sleeved Minnie Mouse shirt, low socks, and sneakers. Lets just say that as a teenage girl I would have never, ever left the house looking like that, but she could care less. Will she learn anything from the experience? I doubt it, but I always hold out hope that some how she will catch on.
I guess keeping all of this in balance is a full time job when it comes to raising these kids. We want them to fly, but in order for that to happen we have to teach them how to do it very slowly. We also need to realize that there will be many, many obstacles along the way. To watch them succeed is oh so worth all the work.