Michael may have delays in expressive and receptive language as well as grapple with some fine and gross motor delays. He may have other emotional challenges due to autism, but he most certainly is as intelligent as anyone. Kids and adults with autism are just as capable and just as smart as the rest of us. I am happy to say that I no longer doubt or worry about that, though I do worry about his innocence sometimes. That is something beautiful too however, and I hope the world will never take that away. I just want to prepare him as much as possible to get along well.
What I have found are the amazing ways and capacity he has for tapping into his emotions in a pure way and how he can manipulate in typical kid fashion. It is frustrating and exciting at the same time to see the milestones he has achieved. This week has been a tough week with Dad putting him to bed for a few nights as I was out. Dad was also having a rough time himself, and Michael picked up on that and things did not go well between them. So what did I do last night? I tried to be there to do more hugging, emotional connection, and love. It worked! When Dad came home, Michael was no longer angry and hurt with what had occurred between him and Dad. He hugged his father good nigh,t and went off to happily do his complete bedtime for the first time in two days with me. Perfect, right? Not quite.That is when the stalling and silliness for bedtime began. And that was when a pretty reasonable one hour and a bit bedtime got stretched to one hour and almost forty five minutes, with me barely tearing myself away the end. Sigh. I’d been had.
What Dad and I can usually recognize, but sometimes still fail to do, is real bedtime stress and “bedtime stalling” as I like to call it. Our Exceptional kids are very smart, and can read us like books. Though I don’t regret the connecting we did with lots of talking, hugging and being there, I also see how Michael used this to push his bedtime limit a little farther. He was making up for a rather military approach over the last two nights that Dad had to push for due to his aggression and anger. It occurred to me last night that the pendulum had swung too far in either direction. Tonight at bedtime I will be better able to recognize the signs of stalling versus real affection. What are these signs you ask? Here are some indications:
- “One more time”…: Yes, one more minute to get a toy, one more trip to bathroom. You get the idea. And be careful if your child is aware of your getting stressed. They will start playing you with off putting behaviors so you get upset and they gain more time.
- Feeling angry for a good reason vs a silly one: As your child’s parent, your gut will tell you when they are truly worried about something. When Michael told me last night why didn’t Daddy hug him like I do, I realized he missed that from Dad.That was no act. When he started doing silly walking to shower and I called him on it as he got angry, well that’s another story.
- Humor masking fear or stress versus silliness: Humor as a shield is another way some of our kids function , and even some adults. If we look closely though we will see if what they are joking about is something stressful to them. Then we can act accordingly.
Exceptional Parents, do you give your Exceptional Child credit for being able to stall and be silly? I hope so. Just because they have a different brain, does not mean they are not intelligent and capable of misleading us or manipulation to get their own way as any child. And count yourself lucky if they are manipulating. It means that everything is adding up as it should be, and they are developing and moving into their own. Until next time.
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