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Need advice/special needs young adult

Discussion in 'Health and Wellness' started by Gib, Apr 29, 2013.

  1. Gib

    Gib Active Member

    Feb 24, 2003
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    We have a young lady, 22, that is assumed to have special needs. To my knowledge she has never been tested. Her mother doesn't believe anything is wrong with her and the father doesn't seem to care. They all came to church when she was in elementary school. The parents divorced 6-7 years ago and the daughter lives with her dad. Neither of the parents come to church with her.

    Her friends outside of church are close to her age, young adults with similar learning disability issues. Not sure how she is connecting with them. I do know from conversations with her, that her dad is pushing her to learn a life skill and get a job. She has no desire to do that. She sits at home pretty much 24/7 and watches TV and surfs the web. Her conversations center around adult content and fantasy. That's an issue, especially around our children and teenagers.

    As she grew in age, so she moved up in the age specific Sunday School classes. That's until she hit the youth group. She is on a 2nd or 3rd grade reading level. She is can be disruptive in Bible study. Likes to lay down and take naps during Sunday School because she stayed up all night watching youtube videos. She doesn't take correction very well and has to be called down often. At the least she is a distraction. She refuses to move up to the adult classes. I'm not sure what they will be able to do with her if she does.

    A church in town that has an adult special needs ministry has reached out to her parents and talked to her as well about coming to their church. She refused stating she has a church home, which she does. We have known this child since she was a child and are not trying to run her off, but we don't have anyone trained to meet her specific needs.

    In the past, several of the ladies in the church have tried to help her with simple things like hygiene, making sure she has proper attire for church and getting her back and forth to church. We are able to get her back and forth to church. Occasionally her dad will bring her on Wednesdays.

    There are several that want the youth minister to be responsible for her. Keeping her in the youth group is unfair to the young folks and the youth leader. When do you draw the line? 25, 30 years of age. Though she has the mind of a child, she has the body of an adult and is engulfed with adult things; TV, Internet, same aged friends. We love her and want the best for her, but are unsure how to handle her.
  2. annsni

    annsni Administrator

    May 30, 2006
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    Unfortunately, this is a tough situation and one that needs a lot of grace and tact, as you are well aware of. Is it possible to sit down with her and her father to speak to them about the issues at hand? I would absolutely NOT have her stay with the youth group - especially since she is legally an adult AND she is watching mature material but may not have the maturity to be able to handle it properly.

    It may mean that you're going to make a bit of an "enemy" and I know you don't want to do that and you want to try to serve this girl as best as you can but sometimes what's best will hurt a little. Unless one or two people are willing to shadow her and work with her, you're just not going to be able to meet the needs of a special needs adult.
  3. Scarlett O.

    Scarlett O. Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    May 22, 2002
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    Well, I'll go first.

    As a sister of a special needs sibling, I can tell you that the God's people, the church, are sorely lacking in knowing how to deal with special needs people - to the POINT of shipping them all off to special needs churches - which I liken that to shipping them off to institutions.

    Now that the rant is over - what is your church supposed to do with her?

    #1 - Being that she is child-like as you say, the youth pastor CANNOT be in charge of her and still be the youth pastor. If she is going to remain with the youth, there must be, preferably a female, assistant that goes to all their functions with her. I'm not in favor of that choice.

    #2 - Just because she is not 22 mentally does not mean that she should be in class with teenagers. My mother did this with my brother. She kept him in involved with teenagers until he was well into his late 20's. I told her over and over that this was beyond ridiculous, but she felt safe with the woman that was working with the youth. No one seemed to care, but it made me fighting mad. This young woman needs to be in a class with adult women. It doesn't matter that she is not mentally an adult, she has GOT TO learn from someone - and she doesn't seem to be learning from home - how to grow and mature as best she can.

    #3 - Someone has got to take the bull by the horns and compassionately, but firmly, do all of this. Move her from the youth to a ladies class. If she continues to be treated as a child, she will not gain more mature characteristics.

    #4 - It's hard dealing with special needs people at church - it shouldn't be, but it is. We want church to be solemn and predictable and controlled. For pity's sake, we all have our same spots that we sit in and get our noses out of joint when the choir director introduces a new song. We the sheeple don't handle distractions well.

    In a nutshell, someone is going to have to step up to the plate - since her mother and father have selfishly abdicated that authority - and move her from the youth to a ladies class. It will probably be a painful move and your church may have a hard time finding a lady or two who will be responsible for her.

    That's my two cents.
  4. faithgirl46

    faithgirl46 Active Member
    Site Supporter

    Jun 20, 2005
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    I agree with you. Scarlett.
  5. Gib

    Gib Active Member

    Feb 24, 2003
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    Agrees with both ann and scarlett
  6. abcgrad94

    abcgrad94 Active Member

    Jan 12, 2007
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    We attended a church that had a similar issue with a young woman. The SS teachers complained and finally the mom put the girl in the church nursery and informed us nursery workers that church was the only time "she got a break" from her dd and we could deal with her. Needless to say, we young moms did not appreciate the safety issue this caused our babies and toddlers. Finally, one of the young moms took this disabled 20-something woman to the church library and taught her one-on-one. She sang childish Bible songs and told her Bible stories. It was one of the most compassionate, selfless acts I've ever seen done for the Lord.

    I think the pastor should make an announcement, that the church has an opening for a special-needs worker to take this young woman aside and teach her one-on-one, away from the others. That way she can learn without being a distraction. (You might want 2 workers, though, for legal protection.)
  7. SaggyWoman

    SaggyWoman Active Member

    Dec 15, 2000
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    I don't think I would keep her with the youth group. Is it possible for her to go to a college or young women's class (or older women) until you can start a class for her? Maybe the class can do special activities with the other church who has a class as well so that she can bond with others....
  8. Gina B

    Gina B Active Member

    Dec 30, 2000
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    I am sensing a few key things here.

    1. "The mother doesn't believe anything is wrong with her. "

    That is common and it could be that she believes that because the child was taken to a doctor who stated there was nothing wrong with her.

    She could have been told this by the child's school. It is not uncommon for schools to have people who do official testing, but as cost saving measures, it takes a lot for a child to officially be diagnosed with a problem because that means the child is put on an individualized education plan. It costs a lot of money. Many don't like to do it. Tax payers don't like to the tax increases that come with having to pay for more kids being put in IEP's, so it's a growing problem as more and more kids come up with these issues.

    Do you know the full story?

    2. "The dad doesn't seem to care."

    How so? Reading between the lines, he raised the child after the divorce.
    Could the stress of having a special needs child have been part of the cause of the divorce? Is it possible that, given the problems this church is having with this now adult person, that the father has the same experiences?
    Perhaps he struggled with her issues for YEARS, without being able to get her the help she needed, with her always going against him, and now she is an adult and the best thing he can do for her and himself is let go and force her to swim and let natural consequences happen.

    THAT is all too often the dilemma of parents who have adult children who never *quite* fit the criteria of getting the help they needed, or who had to fight tooth and nail for it and became the bad guys by the judgments of others. Those kids grow up and suddenly, they're legal adults and the parents have NO legal authority over them and the adult children know that.

    Too often see these pronouncements from people who don't know and don't live this stuff and seen and felt the families torn apart, shunned, hurt by assumptions and those who might even mean well but haven't a clue.

    There's no real advice but to do what you can deal with. If you can't deal with it, don't. You're not doing anyone any favors if you can't deal with it. If you CAN, then learn about her. You can only do that by being open minded and talking to the person who knows her best.
    That would be her father.
    He knows what she's capable of.

    I can tell you right now he is probably scared and probably does not trust you and may not be totally open, so you'll have to put aside your personal judgments and put yourself in his shoes. How would you feel if you were being approached by someone who, by definition, felt you were probably a jerk who didn't care about your child, a member of an organization who notoriously felt that divorced people were automatically nasty sinners to be shunned, who historically were believe to think that any mental slowness or issues were caused by demons, and now you want to talk to him.

    Hrm. Yeah. He might have a bit of an issue because even if he is a believer, the strongest of believers have turned and ran screaming from churches while in the midst of dealing with tough kids.

    So approach him with the honor and respect he deserves as the parent and person who knows her best. You NEED him. He doesn't need YOU. He is the expert on her, you are not, and that calls for being humble and letting him TEACH you about her.

    That's where to start. I'm guessing you'll find that he'll end up letting you know that natural consequences are the best way...just a wild guess, but usually when someone says that the parent of someone doesn't "appear" to care, it's often that the parent is letting natural consequences happen. It's a great learning tool. IE if the kid watches youtube videos all night and falls asleep during Sunday School and gets kicked out, you show empathy and say "oh, I'm so sorry you made a silly choice," but you do NOT go and feel sorry for them getting kicked out. Or, say, they don't bathe and someone won't sit by them because they stink, you might respond with "Sweetie, I was worried that would happen and that's why I bought you that nice smelling bath stuff and told you how important it is to have a bath at least every other day. I'm sorry you feel bad now. Do you still have your bath stuff or do you need more?"
    It might take YEARS before a kid learns, they may never bother, or it may take a few weeks. You never know. Depends on the kid/adult. Sometimes they reach their 20's and get it, sometimes their 30's, sometimes they just never do. It does end up being their choice, whether they have issues or not.