Special needs parenting: Help! My child’s a tween!

Rebecca Toal by Rebecca Toal Additional Needs

Rebecca Toal

Rebecca Toal

Blessed, busy mum to four beautiful girls, the youngest with complex special needs due to extreme prematurity. We are always looking for ways to ma...

Special needs parenting: Help! My child’s a tween!

It’s hard to believe I now have over 10 years of special needs parenting under my belt...

The growing-up hormones, moods, meltdowns was something I wasn’t anticipating in my youngest daughter at just 10 years old! She has three older sisters aged 12, 14 and 16 so we’ve been through the tween and teenage years and changes with them too.

Brielle is different though.

She was born very prematurely at 25 weeks gestation and seems to want to do EVERYTHING early!

I noticed signs of hormonal changes and puberty with her when she was 8. She’s now 10 and the hormones seem to be really messing with her.

We are dealing with daily meltdowns and behavioral issues at school. And before now she was always such a happy, content wee girl.

I am absolutely DREADING her getting her period.

She is still needing regular prompting and toileting daily and wears cotton absorbent trainer pants in case of accidents, so I’m not sure what the best product for home and school will be when she starts to menstruate- which probably won’t be too long coming now.

My head is screaming “but she’s only 10!!!” She’s still my baby girl and I know it’s silly but sometimes I secretly wish she could just stay little for awhile longer!

Although it’s amazing to see her thrive and grow, her legs stretch longer, it’s hard letting go of her little-girl physique and seeing her grow-up.

It’s also harder on us as she gets bigger and stronger as she’s wanting lifted all the time and is getting much heavier so takes a toll on our backs.

She has cerebral palsy and cannot walk unaided though she can walk hand-held and mobilises independently by bum-stuffling.

But she is still a cuddler and jumps up on us to be carried a lot which we try to dissuade.

Also when she lies down in a meltdown she is very hard to get up if she doesn’t want to- this can be in a shop or sometimes on the pavement so is an issue with manual handling (for us as parents as well as for staff at her school).

It’s SO so hard to know with a child who is non-verbal knowing how much of her moods and behaviors are hormonal-based annoyance, if she’s in teething pain (her teeth are a bit of a mess), if it’s general communication-frustration at not being able to express what she’s feeling or she wants, or if she is displaying qualities consistent with the autistic spectrum (this is needing further assessment).

All we can do is love her to bits, and support her every minute to ensure we provide the best opportunities and environment for her happiness.

She is absolutely well-looked after and spoilt rotten by her 3 older sisters especially and really thrives on all the attention she gets as the “baby” of the family.

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