Friday, August 13, 2010

Immature 13 year old

Questioner: Caren

Subject: Immature 13 year old

Question: I have a 13 year old step daughter who is extremely immature, emotionally and developmentally. She struggles in school, and is only passing because she has an aide who works with her using flashcards which are the answers to the test.

Even with that "help" she gets C's and D's. Her standardized testing that is done each year has shown her not to meet standards for the last 4 years. She struggles with making friends, and the "friends" she does have are often mean to her and manipulate her.

When this is pointed out to her, she does seem to realize it but doesn't understand how to better her situation and the thought of making new friends is daunting to her. She is often inappropriate in her remarks- "you look fat in that", laughs when others are crying, doesn't pick up on sarcasm nor does she "get" jokes. She is unable to understand intonation, or body language.

She often appears to be attention seeking to the point where it gets completely annoying. I have mentioned to her dad (my husband) that her behavior does not seem to be developmentally on-target and think that she she be evaluated for such things as Asperger's. That way we can rule out any "problem" and determine if we are just dealing with a diva, or if she really needs help.

He seems overwhelmed by the whole idea and his ex isn't supportive in having her screened either. What would you suggest, or does this seem like "normal" behavior. I must say I have a 13 year old daughter too and they are polar opposites.

Answer: Dear Caren, First of all labeling her as immature is not helpful. Then pointing out her poor choices in friends who are mean to her and manipulate her again not helpful. If you are having a hard time convincing dad to have her evaluated then do something on your own. Point out to dad that 4 years of an unsolved problem is parental neglect.

It is obvious that your 13 year old step-daughter who has not done well in school for 4 years academically or socially is having a PROBLEM! Start with the family doctor for a complete physical. When that is completed move to a family therapist. One who specialize in children her age.

She needs a complete battery of test for everything from learning disorders to mental health issues. I suggest Marriage and Family Therapist as I enjoy there perspective on the family system. However, it is important to see someone who had specialize training in children your daughter's age.

Your step daughter is fortunate that you are advocating on her behalf. Feel free to show this to dad. She is only 13 and you can get her back on track now! It is important to take action now! Children who are not helped early often end up being statistics of the sort you don't want to deal with in a few more years!

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller

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