Exceptional Families, Sensory Issues and Anger Management

I have just had a revelation in my life as an Exceptional Mom. That revelation is that the way I handle my anger directly impacts how quickly I can get in and fix my child’s anger and sensory issues. Oh yeah, and then there’s my sensory issues. I have the fix those too, because when they are out of whack, so am I. But you don’t have special needs Joanne, many of you will say. True, but we all have ways that we unconsciously regulate our bodies and minds so we can best focus and learn in our environment. A very wise speech therapist we worked with (along with the teachers at my son’s adapted preschool), taught me how the body and brain are connected. For most kids on the autism spectrum, and with other neuro developmental challenges, when they are not comfortable in their own bodies, they won’t be able to learn, must less control negative behavior. It’s the same for us neuro typical people. For example, I know that I absolutely need to do yoga and meditation to better focus. I can manage to be on track if I skip a day or two, but beyond that I feel off in my body.

Michael needs the same kind of grounding. Back before he was diagnosed with autism, but I pretty much knew or suspected that that was what he had, I didn’t know where I turn when he was asked to leave his daycare. I ended up at our local CLSC or medical clinic, and was referred by a wonderful social worker to an adapted preschool that helps children aged 2-6 with special needs. Through the almost two years of Michael’s time there, these women became a second family, as did the community organization they are a part of. They still are today as is my son’s current adapted primary school with the teachers and therapists there. I had lost all confidence in myself as a parent, and didn’t know where to start with helping Michael. They showed me, from the first moment I set foot in there, that I could start trusting my parenting instincts, not treat Michael like he couldn’t do anything, NO ENABLING, and last but not least, to laugh and enjoy time with my beautiful unique little boy.

I learned about occupational therapy, and what sensory needs were from them and a private speech therapist, “Joanne, get a trampoline. He’ll start talking more if he’s jumping more.” Huh? I scratched my head, but decided what the heck. I was willing to try anything. So Johnny, my husband, went and bought the trampoline. Michael started speaking in 1 word, then 2 then 3 word sentences. Now, results vary as each child is different. Some kids progress faster with speaking, some have less sensory issues than Michael, and some need to have other issues addressed first before they could learn, i.e. Gluten Free diets etc. But for Michael, once those sensory needs were met, everything else fell into place.

This has changed how I view my son, myself and the world around me. And the other day when I was angry at Michael and we had a fight, I realized why we were both angry. Both of us were off that evening. Our sensory needs were not being met. Once I saw that, I remembered something else. I needed to trust my instincts for Michael and for me. As Moms, we all know our kids and what they need to do to learn best. We have to just believe enough in ourselves and in our children to do that. Until next time.

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