As I have posted in the past, I have a now 16yo dd who was diagnosed with PDD-NOS. I have mostly asked questions here about academics. While I still need to make adjustments in that area, I have gotten a better handle on that area. Now I have a question about how to help her become more independent, as far as being away from me. I know she has difficulties with communication, so she feels awkward around strangers and that is probably why she doesn’t like going places without me. I certainly am not going to force her to go places where she is not comfortable. But, I don’t want her to be so dependent on me that I can’t do things by myself. She wants to go with me everywhere. I do go out to lunch with another lady now and then without her. But, she is not happy when I do that. She rarely wants to be involved in youth group activities, because she either thinks the activity will be too hard for her (physically or cognitively) or she is so self-conscious that she refuses to do it. She refuses to stay overnight anywhere without me, even if she is at home with Dad, although she has a few times when I went to an overnight ladies retreat or was in the hospital. She had no choice, and she got through it fine. I get comments like, “She is 16! She needs to stop depending on you!” Then I start feeling like I’m not doing all I need to be doing for her.
My 16 yo niece from out of state is here to stay for almost 6 weeks. An older married niece, who lives almost 2 hours away, has asked if the girls could go stay with her for two nights, so she could spend time with my visiting niece, who keeps asking when she will be able to do that. But, my dd has flat out said she is not going without me. The problem is not going places with my niece. It is the sleeping over that makes her uncomfortable. She gets nervous, so she doesn’t even want to eat. Then others are coaxing her to eat, which gets her upset. So, she misses out on fun opportunities for reasons like this.
I will be honest. I do not know how to help her overcome these problems. I pray for her, and ultimately, she needs to let God help her overcome them. I need wisdom to know how to respond when things like this come up and also wisdom in helping her become more trusting of other people and give her opportunities that will help build confidence, so she will be more comfortable when I am not around. We do not use medication for these things and I have chosen to not put her in public school for services, because I know she would not be where she is spiritually, had I put her in that environment. She is vulnerable. She observes others closely and needs reinforcement in teaching her that, just because a person does something, doesn’t make it right. We get our instruction from the Bible. I just want to make sure I’m not missing something in dealing with this situation. Those who are familiar or have raised an older special needs child with similar struggles, I welcome any advice/ideas for moving my dd forward socially and for independence. I’m not sure if she would qualify for any services, like a job coach, since she is homeschooled. We are in PA. I just don’t know how to proceed in this area. Sorry for rambling, but thanks for reading.
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