It's been a while since I chatted about my youngest daughter. For those of you new to my blog, she's just turned 18 and she has a developmental disability that presents in many ways, learning, cognitive, sensory but thankfully not so much behaviorally. One of the more worrisome aspects of her disability is her lack of ability to determine danger or to use caution. Over the years, this has manifested in obvious ways such as failure to look for cars before stepping out in a street or parking lot as well as the more subtle, like not being aware that someone doesn't have her best interests at heart.
When she was about 14, she became enamored of a pop artist. Typically for her, when she becomes interested in something, it's rather all consuming. This has softened as she's become older but at 14, she was quite fixated. At that time, she had supervised access to the family room computer and she'd had significant (SIGNIFICANT) coaching on what was acceptable browsing and what was not. She'd lost her privileges several times because she'd failed to adhere to the rules, but we kept trying. One night we got a phone call from a lovely young woman back east (I forget where now) who very gently informed me that my daughter had slipped back onto the computer and posted on this artist's message board her name, picture and phone number, hoping to hear from him.
In my discussions with my daughter, she didn't seem to realize the gravity of this action and so I banned her from the internet... setting up a computer in her room that she could use to play games and listen to music but that was it. Each year, we discussed reestablishing her connection and each year she indicated a lack of interest in
adhering to the rules getting her privileges back.
Since Christmas, I've had multiple conversations with her about safe surfing, protecting personal information on the internet and keeping a clean computer. I think she's ready. So last week I set up a newer computer with wireless in my office for her to practice on. Two nights ago, I moved it to her room.
Yes, I'm watching closely. Yes, I'm still a little worried. But this is part of my larger plan for her. Last year, my husband and I had many conversations about her ability to live independently as an adult. I think the natural instinct is to protect, protect, protect... and I'm on board right up to impacting her right to vote or make her own decisions, even handling her own money. Since we did not apply for legal guardianship, she retains all of her adult rights. That being the case, in our computer driven world she's better off knowing how to safely navigate the internet and how to protect herself on-line. Who better to learn that with than her security-fixated mom?
And yeah, we've got a lot of work ahead of us on the money thing and other aspects of independent living. But the Old Goat and I will not always be here... so as much as I'd like to keep her in the cocoon, I'm going to try to push her a little (a lot). Adult hood is going to be different for her than my other daughters (she'll be living with us for quite some time) but I still think there can be big chunks of normal (I hate that word).
This parenting this is not for wimps.