5 Tips To Help Your Exceptional Child Handle Their Emotional State

Michael has made a lot of progress in learning how to self-regulate when it comes to anger and stress. As I’ve said before, both therapy and medication as well as hard work on his part, have helped him see what changes he has made to made. It has also been a lot of hard work on Dad’s part and mine to remind Michael to go to his own tool kit and see what is the best method to use in calm down in the particular situation he is in. The tool kit is constantly changing.  At first this stressed Michael out. He was worried that his old strategies were not working , or that he did not have any more new strategies. Just tonight he was having a hard time with regulating and I reminded him to use a strategy that worked for him. What he was working was clearly not working, as he was acting verbally and borderline physically aggressive. He seemed discouraged for a moment, but then realized, hey I could try this. I was very proud of him when he did use a strategy that worked and he turned the evening around big time.

What tools do work for kids or what could be in their tool kit? It really depends on what calms your child down. Like us, they are individuals and have their own tastes and preferences. It’s important for you as their parent to learn if they like or need movement to calm down, massage, squeezing, bouncing, walking or being left alone to breathe. Ask them questions and offer them different options to try. With time, you will see what works for them, and most importantly, they will see what they like. Here are 5 tips to help you help your exceptional child along the way in understanding their emotional state better:

1)Talk to them when they are calm: The worst time to offer advice about new strategies or using different ones is when they are already upset. It’s important that they are in a calm state when you talk to them and that you are too. This is when good techniques can be suggested.

2) Show them various visual options: Show them fidget toys, chewing gum, bouncing ball, a trampoline, offer them a blanket to curl up with or wrap around themselves. You can show them pictures online or draw images and help them choose.

3) Have them make an anger box: Have them make an “anger box” where they can write down what they are angry about and talk to you about it when they feel ready. If the child is younger and not as literate at writing or has difficulty writing, have them draw you a picture of why they are angry.

4) Remind them you are there for them always: Emotional support cannot be overestimated. Remind your child that you are always there to help them no matter what by listening and providing support.

5) Remind them that they have a choice to deal with their emotions in a positive matter and that anger is ok: This is a tough one. Kids will offer think anger is bad when parents initially tell them to use strategies to handle their anger. The thing is, the anger is not bad, it is often the way they handle their anger. This is where the child needs to be reminded that it is ok to be angry, but they need to vent in a positive and calm way. That makes all the difference.

Exceptional Parents, how are your children progressing in handling their emotions? If self-regulation is hard for them, don’t worry. It takes time, patience, and practice, both on your child’s and your part to help them learn how to manage their emotions. If you both have a hard day or week, don’t stress about it. Learn from the bad, celebrate the good moments, and go from there. Until next time.

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there before realizing the gift of who my son is.  For more information about me and my journey, check out my website :www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com  as well as my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks. 

 

 

 

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Seeing Your Exceptional Child Through Their Teacher’s Eyes- A Heartwarming Experience

Our family has been blessed to have had wonderful teachers for Michael since he started at his adapted school at age four and a half. Even before, he had an amazing experience at his pre-school with equally incredible teachers. All I can say, is that Michael’s teachers have not only supported him, they have supported me. They have helped me learn tools for the home to help him be more at ease. They have showed me ways to operate more calmly and effectively in the home, and finally, they have showed me a side of my child that I may not have seen previously: his ability to be independent, to plan, to socialize, to try new things.

It’s not that Dad and I did not challenge and stimulate him. I think we did all we could and all we can now. He is involved in many activities and regularly gets out in the community with us to stores, the library and other places. But school ends up showing a parent a different side of their child. They show the parent what the child is capable of in a group setting. They show the parent that the child likes challenges or needs more of them if they are struggling. Finally, a good teacher works with the parent as part of the team. As I always say, “Team Michael” is composed of his teachers, his therapists at school, his therapist and doctors on the home front, and us, his parents and the rest of the family. If we all collaborate and work to help him grow stronger and more confident, we are doing our job. If we don’t communicate as effectively, his coping ability will suffer.

I have seen a huge maturity and change in Michael over the last year, particularly in how he is managing his anxiety, aggression and stress. I know that the tools he has learned from school, the various therapists he has worked with at school and at home, as well as medication and maturity have made a huge difference. This makes me see how the whole has to be in the parts in order to have results that will make everyone come out the winner.

Exceptional Parents, does your child have the right team for them and their needs? Are their teachers on the same team as you and are you on the same team as them? This is of utmost importance if the child is to succeed. Have a plan of action in place with your child’s team  and make sure that you all want what’s best for your child- to be happy, healthy and safe living up to their full potential. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD  and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

How To Use Rewards To Bring Out The Best In Your Exceptional Child

Ok so let me start this post by saying that I was originally against the idea of using rewards to get Michael to learn to use good behavior. I remember the exact conversation I had with his educator that went something like, “Isn’t that useful ABA type stuff for when kids with special needs are young and really don’t understand why the need to listen? He’s 11.” She quickly reassured me though that rewards can work well at any age, and even so-called neuro typical adults use them. You know those times you say, if I push through this deadline I’m going to go get a double latte with whipped cream after work, or I will treat myself to dinner out? Well, guess what parents, you are doing the reward system too! Obviously it is not something you will be continuing with your child indefinitively, but if it helps get them back on the right track as it has done for Michael, then go for it.

We have been using a points system where after Michael earns a certain amount of points, he can redeem it for a favorite video game or toy, small and not too expensive. We are now starting him on earning more points for a bigger reward, and have given him several options to choose- eating out at a favorite restaurant, a more expensive toy or a longer outing with Mom or Dad at a coveted place. What I have been impressed by with Michael, is how the combination of finding the right medication, along with good anxiety management tools and a behavior system that he really seems to understand, has been paying off. He is really getting how to control his words, actions and thoughts. Yes, there are still aggression and outbursts, but there is less of them, andd they are quickly followed by the use of strategies as well as learning lessons. He also has the added incentive of working towards something with his points. Dad and I could not be more proud of the hard work he is putting in, all among managing diabetes, OCD and the regular tween/teen hormones.

Exceptional Parents, have you ever been nervous about trying a strategy with your Exceptional Child that you think will not work? Never close the door on anything, as long as it is not something that will hurt your child of course. And if something worked when they were younger, don’t be afraid to fine tune and come back to it. Always go with your child’s flow. Praise their efforts. They will know when you really feel proud of them. And bask in their success with them. It means you got them that much closer to a life of independence and becoming contributing members of society as they deserve to be. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD  and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

 

Hyperactivity In Your Exceptional Child- How To Find The Balance

Hyperactivity In Your Exceptional Child- How To Find The Balance

So this post is about balance, balance for the child and the parent. Physical, psychological and spiritual balance, because only when we as adults and our children have that balance, do we come close to experiencing some kind of peace. It is not always easy or obvious to us parents what our exceptional child needs. And the thing is, most exceptional children have more than one official so-called diagnosis, whether we want to admit it or not. They have may Autism and ADHD, or Autism and learning disabilities or anxieties or all of the above. The thing is, our kids need strategies to manage their hyperactivity as we do, whether we their parents are neuro typcial or not. The thing is, it does not really matter. All of us get unhinged at times. It’s coming back to our center that matters, and only if we could do that can we feel whole. That is why it is so important that we show our exceptional child how to do that.

It has been a tricky journey for us and Michael in this regard. Michael was never just a straight autism brain as many had told us. We always saw the extra anxiety, phobias and hyperactivity that made up the rest of the wonderful person he is. I saw this because it is all good. I would not have Michael any other way, but I do want him learning how to manage his anxiety and other issues to live life to the fullest as he deserves to. He is a bright, happy, engaging little boy who has lots to offer to the world. As long as he is able to learn to self-regulate himself in a fast paced stressful world, he will do ok.  Let’s admit. This is hard for even us so called neuro typical adults. Imagine kids faced with additional challenges. That makes it all the harder.  Still, finding what works for your child, reminding them of their coping mechanisms and your pride and belief in them can go a long way.

Things that have worked for Michael self-regulating have included deep breathing, sensory massages, physical activity and sensory activities like play doh, thera putty, trampoline jumping and swinging. I have always helped Michael see how finding ways to self-regulate can help him, us and everyone around him. I have also reminded him how his “different brain” can do so many wonderful things, so he can definitively figure out how to handle hyperactivity too. He just has to ask for help, take time to think and pause for what he needs, and to know that all people, both exceptional and neurotypical have struggled with these questions.

As for me as an exceptional parent and other exceptional parents, we also need to know what strategies work to calm us. Are we runners, meditators or bathers? Do we like going out with friends to unwind or prefer an evening at home alone? Do we like reading, movement or tv? Finding our own balance as parents can also help us parent our child more effectively.

Exceptional Parents, are you feeling at a loss as to how to help your hyperactive exceptional child? Take a deep breath. You are not alone. First, offer suggestions to your child that you know can work. Second, be open to trying new things.  Third, let your child lead you to what they think they can do to calm down. You may be as surprised by their insight as you are by your own. The thing is, both of you know what to expect by now, and even if not, know what can possibly work and be brave enough to share it. Now it’s your time to go for it. Your child will be happy you trusted in them and they will learn to trust themselves too. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD  and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

 

How To Accept Your Exceptional Child’s Strengths and Limitations By First Accepting Your Own

It was a busy end of the week and weekend, which is why I did not get a chance to post. That and starting a really bad cold, which thankfully, is now on its way out. Still, even when I am not writing about Michael, I am learning from him  as he is always teaching me about special kids like himself and about the world at large. Somewhere in the middle of all that I learn something about myself as well. What I was reminded of over the course of the last few days was a lesson Michael has shown me many times over the years. I was given a glimpse last week into many of his strengths, but also as in the past, many of his weaknesses. Some of these weaknesses I was aware of, others are new. Navigating OCD and ADHD when we have all pretty much mastered much of ASD and Diabetes has been a challenge. But even these difficulties for Michael and me have not caused the most problems. For me, it is those moments when I see Michael as different, really different, and I have a hard time accepting that there are some things he does not understand or may never understand. The funny thing is other people around him do not seem bothered by it, but I am.

For example, we were in one of his favorite shopping malls over the weekend. He likes to do his rounds as we can them, visiting the assistant manager of one of his favorite stores, and popping into other stores. He has also developed some strange stims with elections coming up in our neck of the woods. He likes to go up to the voting signs and kiss them. He likes certain candidates and is a little disappointed he cannot vote. We told him he will have the option when he is eighteen years old. 🙂 This is cute, of course, but also odd. Then there are the times he will go into the local butchers and pick up the meat to feel it and smell it. It is sensory. He has done this with other foods. People around us smile at him lovingly, but I get worried. This is what makes him stand out and makes him different. I worry that people will not always be so accepting of how different he is in some ways to them. Now, of course he is like other non exceptional kids in many other ways. He likes sports, video games, going to parks, but what could be holding him back from many opportunities I fear are some of these strange mannerisms.  Then once I think this I am ashamed. Ashamed because I truly believe now in my forties that what makes us all unique and special is what makes us different from one another, whether we are neuro typical or not.  So what if we don’t fit into a cardboard box of someone else’s definition of what regular behavior looks like? The world needs to learn to embrace difference, and I need to be ok to embrace my child’s oddities, even the ones related to sensory issues or OCD. As long as they do not hurt anyone, why am I stressed and sad when I see this?

In short, the other night when sitting alone after Michael had gone to bed, I thought that for me standing out and being different was always a challenge until I turned forty years old. And it’s been a battle to continue to push myself past my own insecurities over what will people think, what will people do, will people accept me? As I have watched Michael be who he is from birth with no filter, no restraint, a loving and free spirit who brings such joy and light into everyone’s life that he touches, whether family, friends or strangers, I have had to face that my worries about Michael being more-more quiet, more academic, more focused, more whatever are really about my own worries about me standing out, being me, and being true to the me who is ever changing and surging forward.

I have also realized that I can teach Michael to be more socially appropriate, patient and respectful to the best of his abilities. The rest lies with him and what he will do on his path. As for me, I need to keep questioning why even though I now celebrate my differences and what makes me uniquely myself more and more everyday, my strengths and limitations, there is still a scared part of me holding back. I decided this weekend to  her a hug and tell her she will be alright, more than alright. I have decided to gently take her hand, tell her there is no fear to be herself always and everywhere. I have decided that in order to fully love my child and not worry if I am doing “enough” to help him move forward, I first have to love me enough to see that as long as love, patience, respect and belief in the talents I have is present all the time, I will sometimes falter and worry about Michael’s progress in comparison to other exceptional children. There is no need to worry. He is doing great. I am doing great. We both need to work on strengthening our limitations and celebrating our strengths. I am so proud of Michael and I am so proud of me. We have both come far on our exceptional family journey in all areas of our life, and I truly believe, that as long as we continue to keep learning and growing together, things will only get better.

Exceptional Parents, are you as hard on yourself as an Exceptional Parent as you are on your child? If so, take heart. You can always learn to let go of the idea of perfection. No one is perfect. That would be boring and stressful. Having flaws and beauty are what make life interesting. Celebrate the strengths your child has as you celebrate your own. Work with them on accepting their weaknesses and learning ways to compensate and support those weaknesses. Never compare yourself to anyone else, parent or child. You are your own special unique person and that is reason enough to celebrate. And, as always, thank your child for teaching you this patience and kindness that you now have towards yourself and others as a result of parenting an extraordinary child. Until next time.

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there before realizing the gift of who my son is.  For more information about me and my journey, check out my website :www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com  as well as my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks. 

 

Staying Calm When Anxiety Turns To Anger-How To Help Your Exceptional Child

Things have been getting a lot better at our house as Michael is learning to manage his anger. He is using tools like deep breathing, pausing, taking a break in another room, and slowly learning that it is ok to admit he feels out of control, as long as he waits to talk about his feelings once he is in a calmer state. Handling emotions like fear, worry and anger have always been rough for Michael, like they are for many exceptional children. They are usually hard on themselves and feel bad that they lose control. They don’t see that others, adults too, often have moments that they wish they could take back, and instead feel ashamed when they can’t reign in their emotions.

Slowly over the course of the last year with Michael’s Educator, we have been showing him with various great tools, articles and resources, that he alone can take charge of his emotions and make better choices. Also, he has learned that when he makes a mistake, he can always try again and learn from the mistake. This has been one of the hardest things Michael has had to face, forgiving himself and realizing he is a great kid even if he messes up sometimes. He’s a lot like many kids in this way, hard on himself by saying he is not a good kid when he makes poor choices. All kids need reassurance that they are on the right path. Dad and I have always tried to show Michael our love for him, and to tell him that we have made mistakes doing and saying things that we regret. However, it is never too late to learn from these mistakes and become stronger. It is also never too late to admit when we were wrong and grow from it.

As an exceptional parent, I have learned how me staying calm, being forgiving and re framing what Michael is saying and doing in the most positive light possible, can often turn a negative situation in a positive direction much more quickly. Yes, your child needs to realize that they have control to say and do things differently and be willing to try new things, but you as the parent can help pave the way for them by talking about your own anxious and angry moments and what you did to change and become more positive. If you are learning along with your child, admit this too. Kids appreciate knowing that even grownups have hard times and days and can learn from it.

Exceptional Parents,  how have you talked your Exceptional Child down from anger and anxiety to calm serenity? I’ll bet it’s when you yourself were calm, reasonable, and just physically and mentally there to accept them in all their stressful and even when they make mistakes. Think how you feel when you mess up as an adult and have a reliable family member or friend listen to you unload. Give your child that time as angry as you may be for their behavior, recognize that their anger and anxiety is due to them feeling powerless to control their emotions. By you controlling yours and staying focused on being calm, you are giving them the best example for building their own serenity. Until next time.

Battling OCD And Remembering The Child Behind The Challenges

So lately OCD has been the big thing in our family. Michael’s aggression has gone down in a big way. Dad and I are so proud of him using his strategies, talking about his fears, and asking for help. This has made all the difference for him and our family. It has also meant that Michael has been able to see the strength he has behind all his challenges, because no matter what, our kids do have some control over their behavior. They must be able to see that  and know that they are in control. That is important that all of us have that input, including our kids.

The thing is OCD is a tough thing to battle and learn to live with. We have always known Michael had it. I’ve felt it in my bones since Michael was a baby, and prayed I was wrong as it is not an easy thing to live with.  I had ABA therapists tell me to stamp it out immediatel when I spoke to them of my suspicions when he was five years old. I myself have found nothing redeemable about it. Autism is a gift in so many ways as is ADHD. They simply mean a different brain or way of seeing the world. Anxiety. Well, heck. All of us have anxiety, exceptional brained and neuro typical brained. But OCD? It seems to be just another stressor with nothing redeemable. I know  we could look at it as “attention to detail,” or “focused”, but more often than not, it borders to the obsessive and takes away from so much enjoyment. When Michael has been in its clutches (and Dad and I with him), we’ve often felt so discouraged and stressed. I’ve done my best to stay positive and use strategies like his Educator and psychiatrist have said, such as “stay focused on the task,” and “breathe through it.” But sometimes it is not as easy as that. A new medication we are trying for OCD will hopefully help, but in the end, I know as with everything else, it is remembering the child behind the challenges, the human being, that will help him and us learn to live with this latest challenge. Michael is Michael and will always be the unique human being he is. Dad and I have to remember to nurture his confidence in his coping, stress management and abilities, so that he knows that no matter what  he can do it. I know he can do it. I truly believe that no person is given more than he/she can handle . God helps us all learn from our challenges. Michael is no different and neither are Dad and I as his parents. I also know that with time Dad and I will see the gift of OCD and what it brings to Michael’s life.

Exceptional Parents, are you battling new issues with your Exceptional Children or are you facing ones you knew were there but did no want to contend with? Either way, take heart. Your child and you are stronger than you think. Devise a plan of action to hande personal and family stress. Find ways to regroup individually and together, and in time you will see that you will be able to handle anything that comes your way. Remember, growth often happens through difficult moments for all of us . Until next time.

 

5 Ways To Stay Calm And To Help Your Exceptional Child Cope With Sensory Issues

Ah sensory integration issues. This is something Michael has struggled with since birth, and still struggles with today. I don’t know if it is the heat, the beginning of the school year, or something else, but Michael always has lots of issues with sensory issues at the beginning of each season. This year is no different. I am seeing a lot more OCD stims coming out with checking things, going over things in a certain way, and having a hard time stopping himself from moving and getting to the next step. Sequencing has always been challenging, but never more than when his sensory system is off. This morning we had a fight as he could not get moving to do his morning routine fast enough. When he did finally move, he was fast, but not before we’d had words. He is too old now to want to do a visual schedule or write out a schedule with words by hand or on the computer. So what did I finally suggest to avoid having another stressful morning? A verbal agreement on how the morning would proceed with times set, as well as a small reward if he finished early- a chance to play some video games on his new Nintendo DS that he earned for good behavior and self-control.

This process of discussing things with Michael has come about after many times of fine tuning my own emotional system and learning what does not work to help him redirect himself and me redirect myself. Here are the 5 ways I have learned to stay calm and show Michael what he can do to redirect himself towards a more successful path:

  1. Breathe: Always breathe before you say or do anything. That pause usually helps us make a more positive choice.
  2.  Have a Centering Strategy In Place- Mantra, Walk, Close Eyes, Or Place That Calms: Next I have always tried to picture a positive centering place where I can find my equilibrium and have encouraged Michael to do the same- taking a short walk around house, rocking, thinking of a positive mantra etc.
  3. Don’t Take Other Person Seriously: This is hard to do, but I have learned not to take what Michael says personally when he is upset and have taught him to do the same. When we are angry, we sometimes forget to breathe and think before speaking. This is mandatory or we end up saying things we don’t mean.
  4. Worst Case Scenario: What is the worst thing that can happen? Thinking this usually puts a problem, even a big one, into perspective. We see it is not so bad, and we come up with better solutions.
  5. Apologize After Argument And Learn From It: This is both the easiest and hardest thing to do. We need to admit what we did wrong with our child’s behavior plan, and learn from it. We also need to hold ourselves accountable for our behavior as we hold our children responsible for theirs. This is how we will all grow stronger.
    Exceptional Parents, how do you help your child handle sensory sensitivities, especially when there is a time constraint? It’s not easy for sure, but as long as we remember to stop, pause and then respond, we will be making decisions based on seeing what it is our Exceptional Child needs most. With sensory integration, it is usually compassion, a structured plan, and an understanding of when the child is in and out of control. In time, as a parent, you will find your child’s rhythym and be able to help them learn to manage their emotions better. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD  and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

 

Handling Losing A Cherished Family Pet The Exceptional Way

It was a busy time with back to school for Michael and I last week. Friday night was especially nice to kick back at a park up the street from us, and when we bumped into a friend, staying even later was even better. What was not fun though, was coming back to Michael’s low blood sugar and him getting to bed extra late, and the realization that our beloved family cat, Princess, 14 years old, was terminally ill. Dad and I had suspected for awhile that she was slowing down. I had privately thought to myself that she probably would not make the year, but had no idea how sick she was. Yes, she had not been joining us upstairs as often. Yes, she was eating less and seemed less energetic. Yes, she moved with difficulty, but she was ninety-one years old in human years. It was understandable. It was only on Friday evening, after Michael finally went to bed, that I heard her moans and saw just how ill she was, that Dad and I realized the next day would be a challenging one.

Saturday dawned early for me. I immediately went in search of Princess. When I finally found her hiding behind the living room couch refusing even water,  I went to get Dad. Together we decided he would take her to the vet and we would prepare Michael for the worst. Princess may have to be put down. We would run tests and see if we could save her, but if she was too sick the best gift we could give her was peace.  Of course, initially Michael questioned how could a doctor kill her? Don’t doctors save lives. We then had a very brief euthanasia discussion with Michael, speaking of how it is less cruel to help an animal end its suffering than have it stay alive in extreme pain and discomfort. Next, came the questions of heaven and hell.

“Will Princess go to heaven Mommy? Is there a heaven for animals?”
“I think there is Michael. I think there is a heaven for humans and animals.”

“What do you think she is going to do in heaven Mommy?”
“I think she will be doing all the things she did as a young cat living with us- chasing birds, mice, playing with her cat toys, cuddling with us, and enjoying napping in the sunniest areas of the house.”
“Will she have someone to play with?”
“I think she will play with her brothers and sisters. Maybe even my childhood cat Frisky.”
Michael seemed pleased by this, but commented how he was going to miss Princess.

“Me too honey.”

“Are you going to cry all day Mommy?”
“No, but you may see me crying from time to time. Remember, it’s ok to cry and let out our feelings. And please tell me how you feel. Talking about what bothers us makes all the difference.”

It was good we prepared him. After many back and forth conversations with the veterinarian, he gave us the bad news. She had a mass so large in her stomach that it had actually pushed all her organs to one side of her body, hence, the difficulty she had in walking.  He suspected cancer, but could not do an x-ray. She almost died when he tried. Like all cats, she hid her pain well until she could no longer hide it. Then she showed us what she needed. It was an incredibly emotional weekend for all of us, and we are all still feeling the roller coaster effect of losing our furry family member. But Michael’s maturity in asking questions about Princess, even commenting when he sees me getting misty eyed or admitting he misses her, is showing me how much he has matured in the past year. Gone is the little boy thinking only of himself. Gone are the behaviors or anger and not seeing what is around him. He is learning that we are all connected, human and animal, and when he asked if we could get another cat and maybe a dog one day in the future, I knew his heart was open to loving in a beautiful mature way.

Michael has also helped Dad and I see the importance of animals in many exceptional families, and how they can help exceptional children explore all kinds of thoughts and feelings. The bond between human and animal is really quite extraordinary. It can help pave the way and make for easier human interactions.

Exceptional Parents, have you and your Exceptional Child bonded in a closer way through loving and losing a family pet? Yes, the pain is great when they depart from this earth, but the love they bring to an Exceptional Child and their parents, is often well worth the time and effort needed to care for and love a pet. Nurture your child’s relationship with a pet if your family has one, and if not, consider adopting an animal to help bring out your child’s compassion, caring and love for something beyond themselves. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD  and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

Managing Sensory Issues And Helping Your Older Exceptional Child Self-Regulate

Michael is having a really hard time managing his sensory issues. I have not seen him this bad since he was a baby. Whether it is due to puberty bringing things on, the new medication he is on that is helping  with hyperactivity, but causing other OCD like anxiety, or the hot humid weather turning cool, turning hot and humid again, it is anyone’s guess. Anyway, I am a little at a loss. The old tools we directed him to don’t always work, or as he has said, he does not want to use them.

“How come the other kids at the park don’t need a fidget too not to pinch or squeeze their parents? How come the other kids don’t need a massage to calm down?”
Yep. Puberty and self-awareness is happening. BIG TIME.  And though I am so happy that Michael is so aware, it is also hard because I have to be the one to tell him that he is different and needs to find different ways to control his impulses that could hurt or anger people who are not us. Other kids don’t have these impulses as their brains are not like his. We would never want him any other way, only that we want him happy, balanced and feeling safe and calm in his own body and mind. But this is a process. I am learning that too, one day at a time.

I am also learning how to troubleshoot again with a tween who has sensory, anxiety and aggression issues as well as hyperactivity. Not an easy thing for either of us. However, this tween is also funny, creative, thinks outside the box, is so bright and remembers details from years ago that many people have forgotten seconds after hearing it, and has so much to offer the world-his creative abilities in cooking, music, art and navigation.

So what ways can I help my little guy calm his sensory nervous system, this the first week of school? Here are some tried and true ones that have worked for our hugger, squeezer, exuberant little boy:

  1. Deep pressure massage: As long as your child will sit, it is definitively worth while being trained to do the many massages that are out there to help children with are under or over responsive to touch.
  2. Weighted blankets and vests: I have yet to personally try these tools, but am looking into trying one or both as tools to help Michael regulate. They have worked well for many children with sensory processing issues.
  3. Bear hugs and Burritos: This would be hugging your child with deep big bears and applying pressure slowly as they instruct you to. Burritos would be rolling them (or helping them) roll themselves in a blanket while pretending they are a hot dog between two buns. They could also try this themselves. It is very regulating, and works well with younger children.
  4. Fidget toys: For some kids mouth or hand fidgets make all the difference in helping with their energy level. Fidget spinners can work wonders too. It’s all about discovering what your child needs.
  5. Sports and Movement: One of the best ways to help your child regulate is by sports- swimming, soccer, playing at the park, basketball, anything that interests them physically is great. Michael loves running through the splash pads at local parks, particularly some where the water spray is more intense. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your child.

Exceptional Parents, what sensory tools have helped your Exceptional Child  self-regulate at the beginning of the school year? I would love to hear some of your tricks of the trade. In the end, it’s all about what works to calm your child. This means listening to them, watching their cues,  and moving forward from there. Until next time.

 I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD  and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.