It is officially summer on the calendar now, and in two days Michael will be finished school for the year. With the change in season brings a change in our exceptional children who are usually sensory. Unfortunately for them and us, the change is often negative as change provokes anxiety in many of our children, even the ones who are looking forward to summer and no school. The thing is exceptional children need a break from learning as do all kids, but with the structure of the school day gone, many of them feel lost and don’t know what to expect. I know that feeling first hand with Michael, who though he looks forward to summer vacation, dreads the unknown or time not scheduled. So, since last year what I have started doing with Michael is scheduling his downtime with him, as much as is possible. This means we take out a calendar and write or down different activities and what he or we will be doing that day and week. With seven weeks of structured summer camp, I’m hoping this year will be easier for him and me, but we do have this week where his Dad and I are home for the most part and we will be having a family vacation. We planned this week out too with different activities and alternatives if the weather doesn’t cooperate and that seems to have helped calm Michael’s anxiety. This morning we were even talking about the last two weeks of August when Michael will be home with me alone and no summer camp. I told him if he is nervous we will plan those weeks out too.
Many of us are anxious about the unknown and like and need to plan out our days. It is also mandatory in business to book things in a calendar and be organized or we would get nowhere. Neuro typical people also feel sometimes that they are thrown off when their schedules change, particularly when they are on vacation. The difference is that they are aware of it, feel the tensions in their bodies, and know better how to address those feelings. They prepare. This is what exceptional parents have to teach to their exceptional children. Having this skill to be able to navigate change is crucial for success for the whole family. Michael has taught me how much I have taken for granted my innate ability to do this. He also showed me that for years I wasn’t doing as good a job of predicting how I would react to things. Prior to last year, I wasn’t as aware of some of the habits I had that were holding me back from handling stress well, such as perfectionism that I had to do everything right all the time, being afraid to ask for help, and ruminating with negative thoughts. Now that I have become aware of these bad habits and have worked at transforming the way I handle stress, I have seen a huge improvement in how I handle anxiety and stress. More importantly, I see when I’ve fallen off the wagon, so to speak, and seek help immediately through professional counseling, talking to family and friends, and meditating or exercising.
Exceptional Moms, are you nervous about summer downtime and how to survive and thrive in the days to come with your children? What has worked for you and your children in the past? Remember, we want to teach our kids that change is inevitable, and though they do not have control over everything, they can control their own reactions inside their bodies and how they perceive change. This way they can have happy productive days and everyone gets to enjoy summer downtime. Until next time.