Michael has a lot of anxiety. I have talked about this in previous posts, and will touch on it from time to time as it is an important part of what he and many other children with autism must live with every day. I constantly am amazed though by how well he does lately in handling his anxious thoughts and feelings. He is beginning to ask questions about techniques he could use, remembering he can’t hit his head, the wall, or other people or things, and where he can go to calm down. What most impresses me is how he is connecting activity and movement to regulating his emotions and calming down.
“Mommy, I changed my mind about baking tonight. Can we go to the park and finish playing tennis and bake another night. I need to move Mommy.”
I am so impressed with him and how he is learning to read his body and mind. I am impressed with how good his tennis game and other physical skills are improving, and even though I cringe when I hear how hard on himself he is when he misses the tennis ball, or gets stuck on a word in reading, I am calmly able to point out to him it’s ok, we all make mistakes. Lately, he has been saying it back to me if he hears me saying it to myself. What is striking me is how far he has come in identifying his feelings, his likes, and dislikes. He will tell me who his “real” friends are, “my best buddies are”, and who are friends that he is not as close to. He does not want hugs “because I am a big boy”, but at night wants cuddles for a few minutes. He is my baby, my preteen, and my teenager all in one.
Where we are still grappling with is Michael’s difficulty letting go of worrying about the future. He will come up with elaborate scenarios of what will go wrong, what he will hate on a field trip, at an activity, and I will have to remind him one day at a time. He will also experience something he does not want to hear from me, and will say, quite dramatically, “now my day at school will be ruined tomorrow.” Again, I tell him stories of how I used to think that way when I was little, and how I suffered a lot because of it when I did not need to. I teach him strategies like taking it one day at a time, looking at the positive things in his life, and venting about it for a bit before moving on. What is helping Michael is something I had completely overlooked prior to the last few months; giving him the floor to be heard and a choice of what he can say and do. That freedom is helping him handle anxiety a lot better.
Exceptional Parents, what kind of surprises do your Exceptional Children throw your way? How have they impressed you with their insight, ability to cope, and intelligence? Do you remember to give them a positive choice in how they could respond to things? Do you let them talk and have the floor? This will make a big difference in their ability to handle things in their world. Until next time.
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