One of the hardest things for a parent to deal with is both a child testing their limits and at the same time needing a parent’s gentle hand and understanding when the parent is on the verge of losing their own patience and temper. Yep. That’s what it has been like at my house lately. A few times I have yelled. Sometimes it helped. Michael took me seriously. He took the limits I placed on him seriously. Other times like the other day, I became a little bit of a control freak and disciplinarian by not picking my battles and really laying into him about small things. Yes, a parent of any child learns to pick their battles. A parent of an exceptional child with autism? You REALLY need to learn to pick your battles or there will be heck to pay. 🙂
I did not choose good battles to pick and now the last few days Michael has been using these “small obstacles” to test me. There was one day everything but go wash your hands became a fight between us. It was mentally and physically draining. It was the same with Dad. Then it all came out. He’s not used to school. He resents his teacher telling him what to do, and instead of using his words and strategies to manage his stress, he takes it out on trying to be a mini dictator with us, where he feels safe and has more control.
Yes, parents. As frustrating and infuriating as it is, you must be stronger than your anger and see the child’s need. For me, it meant taking some time in nature to recollect my thoughts. Taking time to workout, even a short one when the rest of my house was falling apart, so I could be strong to weather the storm that is Michael. It is hard for him. My beautiful little boy struggles to be understood, to understand. We are lucky to be in an adapted school where he has services. I imagine what it would be like for him in mainstream school where some teachers would instinctively “get him” but others would not. He is considered high functioning due to his verbal ability and his social nature, but there are so many things he needs to be taught and does not understand. It is the same with me. I confess I am sometimes embarrassed by how little I know how much he knows. I am so glad when he opens my eyes. Then there are the times I overestimate his capability of understanding, of coping. And I curse myself again. It’s alright, Joanne. Tomorrow is another day. I know I know him better than anyone, and when I don’t, my son educates me on who he is. We climb that mountain of love together.
Exceptional Parents, how do you handle your Exceptional Child’s behavior? How do you cope with their outbursts and your own? Know that however you do it, you are doing your best. In time you will learn how best to help your child who is, like any child, unique and special. Reach out to professionals, fellow parents and most importantly, your child themselves. He/she will show you what they are made of, and let me tell you, our kids are stronger and smarter than anyone gives them credit for. Stay strong, take care of your own health to be there for them, you and those around you, and remember. Life is a journey, not a destination. Until next time.