by Nicki Clark -
Life for her will always be challenging, but puberty has brought with it additional problems. She began to display challenging behaviors about three years ago. These challenging behaviors are well known to parents like me – who love a child with her conditions, yet when you seek help it is often not forthcoming.
The primary emotion experienced by Emmy is fear. Fear of change, fear of unpredictable outcomes, fear of fear itself. In order to manage this, she has become controlling of her environment. This is natural, but it is also very limiting.
When puberty began, the hormones – which screamed out for detachment – clashed with the limits of her learning disability, and tormented by fear and anger, she lashed out at the closest person to her: me.
Anger in teenagers is very common. In fact, it could be argued that we only test our mettle as parents when the demands of puberty arrive. When your child has a learning disability, these demands rise exponentially.
Emily refused school and respite, she slept little and would not leave the house even for crucial doctor’s appointments. Our world, already small from the lack of peer experiences and social networks, became smaller still.
We lived in a constant state of adrenaline on the rare occasions that she would leave the house – the verbal abuse, staring and comments which accompanied us since Emily was diagnosed became an unbearable additional slap in the face.
Emily fears transitions most of all. As she got older, this got worse. She enjoyed school but hated to leave home to attend. She loves respite for the independence it brings and fun she has but again hated to leave home to attend. She became miserable by her own imprisonment and lashed out from this misery and fear of change – breaking my coccyx and my finger when I tied to defend myself.
Her remorse once she calmed down was overwhelming, because she’s a lovely person.
Residential school will give Emily all the things she needs. Most of all, it will give her the ability to learn the life skills which are so crucial for her to master so that she can attain a protected independence as an adult.
Letting her go at fifteen is agony as her mum – but not letting her go is so much worse because I’d be failing as her advocate. She won’t let me teach her these things because, like all teenagers, she’s telling me to back off.
It’s very easy to look in from the outside and tell parents like me that we’re wrong. This fails to recognize both our love and commitment to our children and the dedication of those who choose to work with learning disabled people – those who do care and who support those we love to attain an independence of life so vital to us all.
Read more at ‘Because I love her I have to let her go’.
[Via Channel 4 News]