Month: November 2016

Imaginary Friends and My Exceptional Child Building New Worlds

A month ago I had tears in my eyes. They were tears of happiness. My little guy was developing imaginary friends again and better yet, was creating them with craft material like glue, scissors, scotch tape and construction paper. He told me the name of the main character, Dooki, and his various friends, Glegle, Samosa and a few other names I can’t remember at this time. No matter. He is doing crafts. My kid. The kid who hated fine motor. He is writing semi-legibly, the kid who hated doing anything fine motor and hated writing. I am beyond overjoyed. He has reached another milestone in development. Oh, and he is back to writing stories about his characters. I am so proud! It just goes to show how parents can never underestimate what their child will do. They can even learn to enjoy an activity they previously hated doing.

Yes, we have had challenging behaviors, puberty is hitting, and have had to navigate some pretty interesting conversations about hunger, poverty and religion, but I see Michael growing up more each day. He is changing. He even asked me for Legos. Ok, he only wants Star Wars ones, and a police car and ambulance. But what amazed me is he is getting back to playing with toys and things age appropriate more or less. Kids with autism have trouble with make believe and playing. Thinking abstractly is hard for them. They are literal beings. Still, my little guy is changing all that, while he is helping change mine and the world’s perception of autism. His friends are doing it too. Autism is such a vast spectrum. It’s important we never underestimate our child’s potential, wherever they may fall on the spectrum.

Exceptional Parents, what new worlds are your Exceptional Children building for themselves and you? How are they changing your perception of what they are capable of daily, weekly, monthly, yearly? All of our children have abilities and will surprise us if we let them. Encourage your child’s interests, loves and passions, and most importantly, never stop believing in their potential to rise above any challenges in their lives. They are strong individuals, and they will persevere if they know they have their caregivers in their corner. Until next time.

One of the most stressful times of the year for special needs families is fast approaching. Are you and your exceptional family ready? Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY”


Milestone Jump for My Exceptional Son- Articulating Feelings, Fears and Making Sense of The World Outside


So Michael continues to amaze me. I know I say this a lot and it must sound boring to a lot of people. We have our highs and lows like any family, but what I am continuing to see from Michael more and more each day is how well he is able to articulate how he is feeling, what he is upset/confused about, and what makes his angry. The challenge, however, is how to handle these intense feelings. He will still have moments he lashes out physically with hitting and will utter angry swear words. Immediately, he apologizes though. He is beginning to understand the consequences behind his actions learning to do damage control.

At the same time he is learning to push boundaries, to see how far he can aggravate, yell, cry and what will happen. Will I give in? Will his  Dad? Will we still love him? It is funny. As much as he sometimes will openly say, “You’re the better parent” to his father if I upset him and vice versa if Dad upsets him, in the next breath it’s “I’m sorry Mommy. I’m sorry Daddy. Do you forgive me?” Last night I had told him how proud I was of his academic achievements and how well he did at some social events in our community. Michael looked at me almost in shock and said, “Really Mommy? You’re really proud of me?” Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a perfect parent. Heck, I’ve admitted that often enough in print and verbally. But I do my best to hug and tell Michael I love him very much every single day and night. I also tell him I am proud of him and want him to be safe and healthy. Still, like all kids, he needs to hear that reinforcement of the “I love you” many times. I don’t mind. I am so amazed with how far he is going. I am also beginning to understand more and more each day how to help him. He, of course, is guiding me. Most recently he shared something with me:

“Mommy, do you know why I repeat things sometimes, like at bedtime I say, “see you tomorrow morning two times?”

“Why buddy?”

He pauses. “It’s because I want to make sure it happens. If I say it a few times, it will happen.”

Wow. He is able to process and understand how his brain works.And share that with me. Of course. That makes sense. I smile and feel both joy at his realization and pain that he is suffering with worry about this.

“Morning will always come Michael. No matter how many times you say it or not. Day and night will always come. It is outside of our control.”

“Really Mommy?”

“Yes, honey.”

Another incident a few days later he shared with me how he only wants to go to adapted activities where he knows the kids because he hates change. Even if it is adapted and those kids have autism like him and other things similar to mine, he doesn’t know them. Wow again. He is making those connections and bringing me along for the ride in understanding them.

Exceptional Parents, do you see your children connecting the dots emotionally in their inner and outer world? Are they able to let you in to help or meet you halfway? That is the tricky part. Until you are both able to meet at the halfway mark, communication is challenging. Be patient. Play. Interact with them at their level the games that interest them. In time you will find a way in to their world as they will to yours. That is when the next milestone will be achieved. Until next time.

One of the most stressful times of the year for special needs families is fast approaching. Are you and your exceptional family ready? Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY”


Birthday Parties And Understanding of Friendships

I was so proud of Michael this weekend. He blew me away with everything he seemed to be able to handle effortlessly. He wrote in beautiful handwriting in his friend’s birthday card, did amazing with sitting on Santa’s lap at the mall, and then handled losing his tooth and going to see the “Santa Train” all without losing his composure and remaining calm. As it was  a swim party I saw how well he has improved with swimming too. He knows how to do the front crawl. But the best part for me, was how proud of himself he was. The awareness of his strengths is increasing. The awareness of his weaknesses are too, but he is learning strategies to handle that as well.

I am seeing my little guy growing up. He is choosing which people he wants to be friends with. Along with that, comes a lot of responsibility in learning to be polite about who you want to play with and invite. This is something Dad and I are working with him on too, as it is one of those abstract things that is hard for him to decipher. There are also some friends he has “outgrown,” and again we are reminding him to be polite and kind. You don’t need to be best friends with everyone, but all people deserve self-respect just as you do. I found myself close to happy tears watching him show me what he can do, what he understands, and how he is starting to learn how to have back and forth conversations with kids his own age and adults. This is also beautiful to see and I am so glad he is able to understand this.

There are, of course,  days that are very tough and challenging. He will take away the lesson from it though, which is amazing. Before, it would have fallen on deaf ears. He was not able to understand the lesson. And even when we have to teach it a few times, if Dad and I are calm, he will grasp it. That is another important thing for caregivers to remember. Every child is different and will develop differently, including on the autism spectrum. Parents need to remember that too and cut themselves and their kids some slack.

Exceptional Parents, what memorable things have your Exceptional Children done lately? When do you see they are at their best and what is the most efficient way to motivate them? Maturity will happen as they grow, and it is important we grow with them too. Parents need to stay calm, focused and positive, while they encourage their child to do the same thing. Until next time.

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PED DAYS and Reconstructing The Weekly Schedule- How to Thrive As A WAHM Of A Special Needs Child


Ah yes, being a stay-at-home Mom of an exceptional child is challenging. It is also equally challenging being a working away from home Mom of an exceptional child. Then there is the new breed of Mom of which I am a part of; the working-at-home- Mom of an exceptional child. (WAHM). We hear things like, “why is the house messy?” “why do you still need to work after I go to bed?” “why are you on your phone answering email?” Yep. All of us Moms have our work cut out for us. The stay-at-home Mom has her challenges with helping her child and most likely other children, and running her home alone with no income coming in. The working away from home Mom has a steady income, but has her challenges with her exceptional child as she has to find suitable before and after school child care arrangements for her child. The working from home Mom, well, we bring in some money, but our workday has to temporarily end somewhere between 3:00-3:30 pm when our kid comes home. Then it’s rush into Mom mode till 9:00 pm, when we’re back in working Mom mode after they’ve gone to bed. It’s challenging, and there are some days when we need to juggle work when the kids are home. That’s reality too and it’s not always smooth.

Still, there are ways to handle it, tools or strategies like there are for our exceptional children. As our kids get older it may even get easier to explain, but that depends on the day, theirs and yours. Then there are the PED DAYS. Michae loves PED DAYS. He says he loves being home with me and away from school. Ahh, that’s sweet. It’s also a little bit stressful sometimes finding ways to keep him busy, and squeeze a tad bit of work in, though it’s usually just a tad that gets in there. Still, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have my own business in large part due to wanting to have flexibility for Michael, as much as it fills me with joy. And I do enjoy spending time with him. It is just finding the right formula for a balance of Michael, me and work time. How do you I do it? Well, I’m still figuring it all out, but here are some ways that I am finding work for me:

5 Ways To Thrive At Home As a SAHM of a Special Needs Child:

  1. Get up super early: , I mean crack of dawn if you can. Ok, this would actually work if you have older ones who sleep in. If you have little ones, try to stay up a little later. That’s when you’ll get things done.
  2. Take care of yourself: As hard as it is, make a point to stretch, do yoga, go for a walk. Recharge your own Mama batteries.
  3. Have a set schedule that you follow 7 days a week  for home and work: This is hard, and it will fluctuate according to sickness, holidays and kids and other family members’ health situation, but try as much as possible to have a set wake up and sleep time and stick to it if nothing else to keep your own sanity as a parent.
  4. Allow for PED DAYS and structure, structure, structure  the day:  I can’t say enough about structuring the day with your child. Make it fun. Plan ahead with them what you are going to do, and make sure to allow extra work time around that day (either early am, late pm, or if you can, take the whole day off and make up the time another day).
  5. When you are tired, take a break a REAL break: I used to have a hard time with this. My “break” would be throwing in a load of laundry or cleaning the kitchen floor. When your child is at school and you are home at work, you are working. It took me along time to stop feeling guilty about the mess. Now the whole family is starting to learn to help.


Exceptional Parents, do you need help balancing life with your Exceptional Child? Remember, your child will sense when you are out of balance and start to act up with behavior issues or testing. They also will feel when you are not listening to them or are distracted. Try as best as you can to be in the moment with them when you are with them. That is the only way to truly survive in whatever parenting situation you are in. Until next time.

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5 Ways to Reconnect With Your Child Who Has Autism

Michael and I have had our ups and downs in recent months. Now, we are on the ups again, and even when there are difficult moments, as I’ve said in previous posts, we gain equilibrium. He is learning how to manage his emotions as I am learning to manage mine. It is normal with any child that you will have moments of connect, and moments of disconnect. It is how you learn to navigate them that will make all the difference. That is what I have discovered with Michael, and hopefully, he with me.

Michael has been learning how to handle his feelings better. How to cry, talk about his emotions, and not resort to challenging behaviors to get his needs met. Some days are easier than others. Last night was an example where he was stressed, but quickly went to his room to calm down and managed to regulate himself. I was so proud of him. Yes, there were outbursts. Yes, there were moments when he hit objects, his head and yelled at me. But I stayed calm and quietly reminded him to redirect himself. And he did! It’s a beautiful thing for a Mom to witness on a tough afternoon for her child that the lessons his school psychologist, teacher and I are helping him with, are sinking in. He was a champ.

But, if as a parent you are having trouble reconnecting with your child, what can you do? Here are some ways I have found to reconnect with my son who has autism:

  1. Be there physically, mentally and spiritually there for them: Simple right? Wrong. On days when work calls, another child beckons for your attention or you are just out of it yourself, this is challenging. Still, this is mandatory that your child senses you are there listening to them in body and spirit. That’s when even if they have challenges, they will get through them as they know their parents are there for them.
  2. Make sure you check in with “you” throughout the day: As a parent, this is crucial. When was the last time you checked in with how you are feeling emotionally, physically or spiritually? If you are burnt out, frustrated, and have not been taking care of yourself guess what, your kids extra emotional sensors will pick up on it. And you will be no good to them or you. If you are having a tough day and can’t do all your self-care things, be honest about it. Do something gentle for you so when they come home, they sense it too.
  3. Listen to what their interests are and go with it: This is so important. My little guy is now into making imaginary friends and houses. Go figure he wants to do crafts! At the  park, he wants to race for his imaginary friends. Again, I am going with it, as it is encouraging his imagination, fine motor development and communication. Don’t tell your kid it’s weird and move on. Go with it. Remember also, it’s the weird people who get things done and move the world.
  4. Let them cry or yell as long as they are not destructive: This is one I have learned the hard way. I let Michael release all his emotions crying, yelling, stress, as long as he is not aggressive. Aggressive behavior is not allowed as it doesn’t help anyone. I let him release his emotions and it is truly helping him come in his own.
  5. Cuddle and bond in whatever way you can: Some kids get to a certain age and don’t want cuddling in the daytime, but many enjoy cuddling at night, kissing, hugging. I make sure to have this time with Michael or give him that time in some other way by talking or laughing in the day. Kids need to know you are there for them.

Exceptional Parents, how do you reconnect with your kids who have autism? How do you tell them you love them and are there for them? They know you are even if they don’t ask the question or can say the words. Say it. Hug them. Spend time with them doing what they love, and most importantly, make sure to tell them how special they are to you. They need to hear it at least once a day. I love you is so important for all of us to hear. Until next time.

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Video Game Joy And Fine Motor Enjoyment-The Next Milestone To Celebrate

How many parents of kids with and without autism celebrate them playing video games? Let me see a raise of hands! I didn’t think so. And if I didn’t have a son who did not struggle with fine motor stuff, crafts and building, I would not have cared. What made me excited about Michael’s blossoming interest in playing video games with his Dad and doing Dooki and other craft building with construction paper, scissors, scotch tape, and glue, is that it means he has turned a page in his development.

In the last month, I have seen how he is gravitating to doing things that are challenging for him, and better yet, he is liking doing it. He proudly showed me his cutting skills the other day. Today he talked again about the special game he would play with the craft toys he made himself. He saved that special game to play with his father. I am awed and amazed developmentally and social skills wise. Michael will always love movement, sports and going out places. Yet I see a change in him as he is approaching his 10th birthday. Maturity is moving alongside rebellious moments of testing me and telling me he does not want to listen sometimes or does not like what I say.


How did I manage to help him? I can’t take for credit for this one, other than saying I have always encouraged exploration of different toys, ways of doing things, and learned to be patient when Michael has hit a standstill or is stuck. I will demonstrate or talk about things and let him come into his own. Here though, I credit all the fine motor with his school, therapists, and the wonderful extra-curricular activities where there were fine motor and craft components. As for the video, there I credit his peers who he copies and likes to emulate. His buddy last year loved Star Wars and now Michael does too. It is the same thing with Legos now and other toys. I love it. He has his own mind, but is slowly becoming interested in what those around him like to do. He has emerged from his shell, and is coming into his own little person. There are frustrating moments still, but we handle them together on the same page now.

Exceptional Parents, what new developments do you see your Exceptional Child doing? All our kids are moving forward in one way or another. Sometimes we are so busy we may miss it. Don’t worry. Take a deep breath. Look around you. Look at how far your child has come in learning, and praise them for that. Celebrate every little victory. They deserve it. Until next time.

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Snow, Snow and More Snow-The Joys of Sensory Play Outside

The first snow fell Sunday night into Monday. And, like any child, Michael was ecstatic when he woke up yesterday morning. He asked about building a snowman and was crossing his fingers about having time to play outside at recess. I promised him, regardless, we would do something outside after school. Unfortunately, he did not come home with his snow pants, but we still want to race in a nature park nearby and watch the ducks after our race and walk. Michael loves being outside and so enjoys the snow. He, as well as I, are looking forward to sledding, skating and doing all kinds of activities outside.

For exceptional kids who have many gross and fine motor challenges, being outside can be great to help them build up their muscles. Walking in deep snow or up a hill with their toboggan, skating, building a snowman and making snow angels, all work either the larger limbs of their body (gross motor), and/or hands, fingers and arms, (fine motor) skills ,in a fun way that gets them moving and releasing a lot of pent up energy. When Michael was a baby, being outside was difficult for him. The temperature and the feel of the snow was something weird, though he did enjoy eating snow, and actually, much to my frustration, still does. He also went through a period where he would be outside for ten minutes, then tell me he was tired and wanted to go in. I realize now that was his low muscle tone that had to build up tolerance to movement and coordination. But, as with everything else, once Michael built up that tolerance, did he ever go. Now, he is my little movement machine, loves to be active, and, as a plus, has gotten me to be active too.

Exceptional Parents, do you have trouble getting your little ones outdoors? Are they sensitive to light, cold or not liking to get dressed up in snow gear? Start slowly with small spurts of time outside so your child can build up tolerance to being outside. Do fun things with them. Remember what being a child was all about; making snow angels, building snowmen, running, your cheeks all nice and rosy, sledding. If they see you engaging in fun play with no pressure, they will eventually be curious enough to want to join in. Not sure how to do it? Sure you do. Just be yourself. They will be comfortable with you and eventually be able to be themselves. As always, trust your parent’s gut on how to do this. You know your child. Until next time.

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Endings, Beginnings And Seeing The Right Path With My Exceptional Child

What a weekend! I don’t think we have had such an amazing weekend as a family like this in about a month. Saturday’s beautiful fall sunshine weather just added to my joy, the joy of being with Michael outside in the park. I watched him play serenely on all the park equipment, and then play quietly on the grass with his Skylander figurines, a new interest.

“There are no more picnic tables Mommy. Did the city put them away?”

“Yes, winter is coming. Enjoy today. We are getting snow on Monday.”

A small smile plays on his lips. “I’m so excited. Will we be able to go sledding?”

I laugh. “There won’t be that much snow. But it’s good you have your new snow pants.”

He runs off to play. I sit down in the grass and feel lighter than I have in a long while. Michael’s challenging behaviors had started up again last week. I think I figured out what the problem was. He had another loose tooth that came out Friday afternoon. The beginning of the week had been so hard for both of us. Then I remembered a few weeks previously there had been pain with the other tooth too. He was feeling calm again. The pain was gone. I knew this was not the only reason. I had also been making sure to really be present for him. I had been turning off my phone and listening, and most importantly, feeling calm around Michael by practicing self-care. I had made sure to go back to my weekly exercise along with meditation and yoga. I had all that much more to give him even if I’d had a busy work day. It’s so important for parents to take care of themselves so they can be there for their kids.

I witnessed a calmer and more mature son this weekend. He was feeling good. He was rested. He knew his limits, and he asked calmly for what he wanted to do. I even had some extra beautiful surprises. He bonded with his Dad in a way I haven’t seen for quite a while. It’s been strained between them due to stress on both their parts. But as Dad has gotten back into his self-care, the two of them spent a beautiful Sunday. They went to shopping centers, out to lunch, a tennis lesson, and a holiday craft bazaar. The child that came home was not the son of the last few weeks who was stressed, anxious, fighting. He was clearly happy to have had time with his Dad and thrilled to tell me all about his day. It was so nice to see my little guy so happy.

Pain can do a lot to all of us. It can make us think and act crazy. I was reminded this weekend of something I read in a book a long while ago about children and behavior. It is important to always see if there is a physical cause for behaviors or outbursts. The child could be overtired or in physical discomfort in a way that we had not thought of. It works the same for us adults, though we usually can hold it together better. I had forgotten this life lesson, and was so happy that Michael reminded me of it by showing me the truly wonderful little boy he is when he too is feeling balanced and good inside.

Exceptional Parents, how many times have you missed the real culprit behind your child’s challenging behaviors? How many times have you been so stressed trying to help your child, that you forgot to be calm around them and not join their chaos? We’ve all made these mistakes. No one is perfect. The important thing is not only to be keen observers when we see our child on the right path, but also to be a keen observer when we see ourselves on that right path. Until next time.

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Parent/Teacher Interviews and More Growth for This Mom and Her Son!


So last night was the Parent/Teacher Interviews at Michael’s school. As always, it was as much a learning experience for me as it was for Michael. I was happy and it was a positive experience, in spite of the testing he is doing at home. I heard once again thankfully, how well Michael is progressing in reading, writing and math. He is starting to grasp the basic concepts, and as his teacher told me, is able to understand what is expected from him in with work and in holding a conversation. He is kind to others in the class and has many friends. It is a dream come true for this Mom. He is also holding it together very well in school. His body is regulated and he is able to sit and focus and learn. The anxiety he holds is released at home, and for that I am grateful. I am also grateful that he is working with the school psychologist on a program to help him handle his anger triggers and learn to respond appropriately at home as he does in school to stress.

At home he will react inappropriately using vulgar words, will laugh at things that are not funny, and will be aggressive at times when he hears things from me that he does not “like” as he says. I and his Dad will tell him that is ok to not like it, but that he needs to respond in a respectful and calm way. It is all to test us, and to test the newfound independence he is exploring as he enters the double digit years soon. As one professional put it, he is experimenting with his physical and mental agility, and on how far he can go in asserting himself and his opinion. I am told by lots of other parents with children on and off the spectrum that this  is perfectly normal, but that we need to show him boundaries. At the same time, what I have been reading is that anxiety and anger come out in times of fear. We are not teachers and professionals, but I think he still wants to please us and worries that he fails us when he makes mistakes. Though it is not always easy, Dad and I are trying to slow down, be there for him by sitting and talking to him, and tell him we love him just as he is because we do, of course. We don’t love the negative behavior, but we love him. And I truly believe when the parent is calm, the child will become calm. This is something I remind myself of every day. If I am not calm and able to show that, my child will not be calm.

Exceptional Parents, what feelings do Parent/Teacher Interviews bring out in you; worry, excitement, dread? It’s normal to be concerned about your child’s full development, but remember it’s ok if the child takes two steps ahead in one area, and falls behind in another. Life is about that back and forth for all of us. Just remember, to ask questions, seek support, and most of all, just love your child, love them for who they are and accept where they are. You can both work from there on other issues. Until next time.

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Pretend Friends, Crafts and Experimentation With Control, Anxiety and Self-Direction

Michael is going through another phase of exploration now, with making pretend friends out of crafts materials. As with anything he does, he does it with an intensity that is hard to sometimes understand for me. This is mixed in with his little mini rebellions of not wanting to listen to things I am saying that he does not like lately. Last evening was a tough evening for both of us. We manage to turn around things around after school, but were not lucky at bedtime. He just couldn’t stop talking about the next phase of his plans for his craft creations, and was asking me about things he wanted me to be doing with him on the upcoming PED DAY. My crime was telling him that we would talk about it the next day as it was bedtime and if he wanted his story and massage we needed to get a move on. The process had already been moving too slowly. Maybe it was that. Maybe he was tired. Regardless, things went from tense to tantrum very quickly. I finally had to leave and have Dad take over.

This is not the first time this has happened in the last little while. It is becoming increasingly hard for Michael to listen and I am still trying to find the reasons behind this breakdown in communication. We have done some beautiful bonding in the last month. I am doing my best to be there and present for Michael; in the morning, at snack time, at dinner time, and at night time when he lets me. This new phase is challenging for me too. It is accompanied with hitting and a new one, hair pulling, if he is upset. I reiterate that there is no hitting, pulling or screaming. He needs to calm down and use his words. At school he is wonderful. His skills are increasing and he has lots of friends. Still, he seems strained and going through the motions. We are looking for ways to bring the joy back for him, for us. It is hard.

I have joined him in his craft building, and, as with everything Michael is interested in, am taking an interest myself in it to show him support. He has surprised me by asking for Leggos and wanting to try building  with them. This gives me hope after Dad and I figure out just why listening to something reasonable is so hard for him lately; put on your winter jacket, get ready for bed. etc. I take it one day at a time, and know like with the other phases Michael has gone through, we will figure out new tools to handle this one.

Exceptional Parents, what tools do you use to help your child when they are going through another challenging stage? What tools do you use to help yourself? I think it all starts with love, love yourself enough to show respect for you and your boundaries, and then teach your child that they need to have that same respect for themselves and for you as their parent. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different things to reach them, and have patience. It will all work out and you will reach them in whatever new phase you are in. Until next time.

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