How To Help Your Exceptional Child Navigate Rigidity and Control Issues

Michael is an amazing little boy. He has truly opened up my eyes to wonder, exploration, and the little things that matter; like how much fun it is to go for a walk in our neighborhood, to learning how to better navigate in my car, to paying closer attention to messages disseminated in the media on the news and in songs. He is a joy to talk with, and I love his questions. But there are days, days when the questions turn into arguments and protests, and he will say, funny as it sounds afterwards, “I am only getting upset because I don’t like what you are saying.” It is exhausting as a parent to handle, though I know it is not his fault. He feels very powerless in his world, and this is his way of trying to get some control back. Autism is a different way of seeing the world, and the world is not adapted to reflecting back security to someone with autism, particulary our crazy, fast-paced world, which is even hard on a lot of the non Exceptional population.

Like a lot of Exceptional kids who have autism, he can be quite rigid in his thinking and sees things as only how they affect him. His Dad and I are teaching him gently to be aware of feelings; ours, teachers, friends. It has its challenges for Michael and us. I also know that the rigidity is due to the overall anxiety he feels and lives with daily. As Temple Grandin herself has explained, it often felt to her that she was living life at the edge of a cliff, where any minute she might fall down into the abyss. On days when Michael’s worries, arguments, and intense discussions wear me out mentally, I remind myself of this. He is living at the edge of that cliff, not me. I have lived with anxiety all my life, and even thought I had an anxiety disorder two years ago when I suffered my second of two burnouts. Though I don’t meet the criteria for an Anxiety Disorder, I did struggle with stress and managing my feelings all my life. In adulthood, I learned about exercise, meditation, and yoga and their benefits. These are tools that Michael’s Dad and I are showing him, hoping he will gravitate to some even if not all, and help himself to better handle control issues.

He loves to exercise, did yoga for a brief time, and is learning strategies like using fidget toys as well as incorporating his old tools of rocking swinging or bouncing to handle stress. Still, I know there are more things we would like to try and do to help Michael understand how his body and mind work. As always, these tools would help his Dad and I too to better understand his emotions and help him. At school, he is doing Cognitive Behavior Therapy, a children’s version, and that is proving to be extremely helpful in him dealing with challenging emotions.

Exceptional Parents, what tools do you use to help your child with anxiety and control issues? As always, traditional sensory methods, exercise, breathing techniques, and having the child learn to express their emotions, helps tremendously. Never be afraid to reach out and try new things, and as hard as it is for you as a parent on those tough days, don’t ever give up on your child. They need you to believe they can navigate the world on their own as you know they can and will. Until next time.

How are you and your special needs family handling the hour change and shorter days? If you are challenged by this, download my FREE EBOOK: “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY”

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