My Special-Needs Child is Now a Tween …Wait, Not Ready Yet!

Caucasian girl listening musicMy child is now officially a tween. She has one foot still firmly planted in childhood, wanting to play games and pretend and collect stuffed animals. With the other foot she has started to dip her toe into the shallow end of early womanhood. This terrifies her, and it terrifies me even more.

Just yesterday, even as she complained about the smell as I polished my nails, she flattened her hands out on the table and asked for a manicure. She has started to put together cute, funky outfits and has a good eye for coordinating colors. The child that would not even let us brush her hair has now even expressed interest in wearing clips and bows in it.She insists on wearing (low) heels when she does her chores. She has already had her heart broken by a friend and been disappointed by many others. She is so eager to be part of a group that I worry that she will make some bad choices or give in to peer pressure. I guess every tween mom has those worries, but not every mom is worrying about a child with a developmental delay.

Inclusion is becoming a slippery slope. In the near future while she is spending time with typically developing kids her own age, she will be presented with choices she many not be equipped to make. Will her friends understand this? Will she understand this?

In many ways she is truly a “tween” – a high functioning kid but still very much dealing with special needs and at the same time a blossoming teenager wanting to go out with friends. Do I shield her from these situations and have her miss out on learning opportunities and experiences? Or will I give her some freedom, but sneak a GPS into the hem of her shirt? Should I claim to be dropping her off at the movies but then spy on her from a few rows back?

I am going to have to take the upcoming future one day at a time. Like her progress up until now, we will probably see her take two steps forward and one step back…in increasingly higher heels. Whether she takes actual physical or metaphorical falls, we will always be there to catch her.

About the Author

Rosie Reeves is a writer and mother of three; including one with special needs. She works side-by-side with her daughter’s therapists, teachers and doctors. Rosie has also served as the Los Angeles Special Needs Kids Examiner. She can be reached at Rosie is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


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