Month: December 2016

Exceptional Mommy Resolutions for 2017

We are almost at the close of another year. It’s incredible how fast the time goes whether we want it to or not. As I look back over this year, I see how far Michael, his Dad and I have come as individuals and as a family. Dad and I have started to not make any more excuses for where we are not and start to work on where we want to be as individuals and as parents. We have showed and continue to show that to Michael. It is hard sometimes. There are days of self-pity for all of us. But I am happy that I can now step back when I am in this mode and look at myself as if I am a character in a play and even laugh a little, “Oh, there she goes singing the I have no time for me card. Oh, there she goes singing the oh this is so hard card.” And I realize. Things are only as hard as we want to make them. Sure, there are challenges in life and obstacles. But if we break them down into small steps, we can succeed. If we instead decide to pity ourselves, we cut ourselves and our abilities short.

resolutions, scrabble

2016 was a terrible year for a lot of close people around me. Family and friends have struggled and continue to struggle with health issues, personal and psychological. Dad and I struggled to help Michael when he started exhibiting more challenging behaviors and had to rule out more serious mental health issues, which we were so relieved were not present. We also had to look at our own personal situation: financial and our home and see what changes we needed to start making to move forward. We had our share of challenges too. Isn’t that always what a New Year does? It’s a chance to start over fresh and make positive changes. So, here if anyone is interested, are my Exceptional Mommy New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Show more patience and kindness: This is something I am going to start doing with me first and then work outwards with family, friends and the world. When we feel positive and light we affect those around us with that same light.
  2. Take care of my overall health: I do a pretty good job here, but I want to really make a point to continue my regular meditation, yoga, exercise routine along with eating well and regular medical checkups as well as prioritizing things like personal time to read and unwind. As a business owner my leisure time is non existent at the moment unless I’ve had a really tough day. That is going to change.
  3. Work on my fiction regularly and send out a completed fiction novel to publishers: I have my dream job of freelance writing and love connecting with parents as a coach. The problem is that I do not have a heck of a lot of time for my fiction writing. I want to carve out regular fiction writing time and send out an old novel to publishers. You never know ! 🙂
  4. Make time for more prayer, spiritual reading and reflection: This is something that I have been talking about since the fall. I will make the time to do this, as I have seen just like exercise, without my time in prayer and reflection, other things in my life come apart.
  5. I will try new things that scare the bleep out of me: I did a few of these in 2016. More to come in 2017. I have seen that it is only by pushing ourselves to the edge of that cliff that we can say we are truly alive and growing. We need to trust that there is a net to catch us below. God help me, I will teach this to Michael too. Autism or not, he has to learn to trust his instincts and I will work with him to do that.

Exceptional Parents, what are some of your New  Year’s resolutions for you and your Exceptional Child? What do you need to let go of and move towards? We all have things we want to change. Use this time as a time of rebirth and renewal. Teach your child to make realistic resolutions if they are capable of it. If not, model for them your own personal transformation, the best example you could set. Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy New Year in 2017! Until next time.

Are you looking to make changes in your special needs parenting life? Do you need support on your journey?  I am a writer and parent coach who is passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparenting.net.

It’s almost the new year.  Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS.

 

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5 Different Tools to Help Your Exceptional Child With Challenging Emotions

We are pretty much at the mid point of the holidays now. Michael has adjusted somewhat, yet there are still the difficulties with scheduling and knowing what is happening next. We cannot replicate school with the standard visual schedule up on the wall where very little changes, nor do we want to. I used to want to when he was younger. He would suffer so much in those days being away from friends and his routine. Now though, he is happy to be home, well I mean away from school. He doesn’t like staying home, but that is another blog post altogether. 🙂 He is learning how to structure his own free time as well, but what I find difficult sometimes is how to help him learn to handle his stress and anger. He is becoming increasingly annoyed at reading social stories, and insists that a visual schedule at home with times and what we will be doing is for babies and that is not him. At least he still writes down stuff on a calendar! What to do?

I started thinking the other day of what tools I have used that have worked to help Michael and not help him. As a parent and parent coach, I make sure to learn from both. I have found generally, that the techniques below work very well for helping guide you and your child through the challenging times:

  1. Look at what led to the behavior: This works every time. When we look back, we will see a pattern. In EIBI Or ABA, they call this ABC’s: Antecedent, Behavior and Consequence. All parents of children with autism know this well. What was child feeling before the behavior? What behavior resulted from it? And what was the consequence for them? A lot of parents unintentionally respond to negative behavior by giving in to the child, yelling themselves, or by calming child down and not letting the child learn to do it. It’s important to see where we fall in this dynamic.
  2. What worked in the past? What haven’t you tried? This is another good one. Sometimes in the heat of the moment as parents it is hard for us to stay calm and focused. Afterwards, we can look back and remember what worked to help the child the last time?  It’s a good idea to write it down so we have it on paper.
  3. Spending quality one on one time  really listening to child: This is a great preventative measure in most cases to challenging behaviors. It doesn’t mean giving in to their every whim to keep them happy, but being present for your child will help them feel more secure, and less likely to engage in troubling behavior. This needs to be done regularly. Enjoy sharing with them an activity that they love. Michael loves to talk or play tag and hide and seek with me.
  4. Keep snacks and water handy: Sometimes challenging behavior can be headed off at the outset if the child is not hungry or thirsty. If they are regularly being kept busy and are fueled with good food, they will be that much more able to get a grip on their emotions.
  5. Getting enough sleep and rest breaks in the day: This is super challenging for busy active kids, but it is important they have periods of activity and rest. Schedule it in advance, and make the rest period fun. Set them up with a favorite book or movie or video. Be nearby to monitor.

Exceptional Parents, what are some of your best tools for helping your Exceptional Children? Remember, the most important one of all is love and unconditional acceptance of them, in good times and bad. This does not mean condoning bad behavior. This means reminding them that they are capable of holding it together and doing right, and of course, encouraging them and praising them when they do get it right. That will also help move everyone to success. Until next time.

Are you looking to make changes in your special needs parenting life in the New Year? Do you need support on your journey?  am a writer and parent coach who is passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparenting.net.

Want to start the New Year off on the right foot with handling anxiety and stress better? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS.

 

 

Keeping the Balance on Holiday with Exceptional Kids

Balance. That is challenging even for us neuro typical people over the holidays. After all, the holidays are all about parties, overeating, sleep and wake schedules altered so forth. Even if you are back at work in between as are many people, there is still the challenges above to contend with. Now, imagine our exceptional kids. Sometimes it’s hard when we are struggling as their parents to adjust. What are the best ways to make the adjustment to the holidays as easy as possible? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Keep same sleep/wake schedule as much as possible: Try to keep the same sleep/wake schedule as much as is possible. This will mean your child and you will be that much more rested to handle things.
  2. Plan out week or two on paper: This really helps our family. We plan out on paper in advance what we will be doing. It helps cut down on the anxiety for Michael and us. Of course plans change so it is a rough schedule and we explain that. At least he has a guide to go with though.
  3. Make sure to have a mix of activity and downtime for all family: Over scheduling is something we used to do as Michael needs to be busy a lot and that would often backfire. Even he needs his downtime particularly as he gets older and I see how anxious he is. Make sure it is clear to child and parents when is down time and when is activity time.
  4.  Keep your sense of humor: Patience parents and laugh at the little things. Kids will be kids and yes being home with them will sometimes magnify little bad habits and you will get annoyed and yell. Remember, they are doing their best. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  5. Enjoy unique family activities done at this time of year-make it a tradition. Maybe it’s a holiday movie with popcorn, maybe a sledding day with lunch out,  maybe it’s caroling or a New Year’s Even party or baking, whatever, enjoy positive family activities that are part of this time of the year.

Exceptional Parents, how do you keep the balance with your Exceptional Kids? Remember, a little bit of rest and a little bit of activity is usually the way to go. Do what feels right for you and your family.  And as hard as this time of the year is, try and enjoy the fun times with family. If your child senses your calm state of mind, they will usually follow suit. Until next time.

Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS

 

 

 

Exceptional Birthdays, Milestones And Surprises Along the Way

So I can’t believe it. Today is Michael’s 10th birthday. My little baby boy is officially entering into the double digits! I can still remember how I held him briefly in my arms and counted his little fingers and toes before his Dad whisked him away. I had to be sewn up from my C-Section.  I could not be more proud of him and his accomplishments, and even with the ups and downs of behavior, I have had so many proud Exceptional Mommy moments. The first one was last year when he began to read by himself and learn to write legibly. The second one, when he began to understand where his emotions were coming from, and how he could feel the tension in his stomach before he erupted. The third thing that stands out is how he is now choosing his friends based on common interests, respect and other regular kid reasons. He is growing up. It is not always easy for him or us, but we are in this life together for a reason. God has a master plan and I am proud to be part of it. I do my best to go along for the ride.

As many other Exceptional Parents have shared with me, our kids make or break us. Most of us are made stronger due to them, both in their times of strength and weakness and our own. It’s impossible not to grow when raising a child that tests all you have as parent and human being. They see right down to your core and beyond. They force you to do that and you grow and figure out what the heck it is this life is supposed to be. That is not always something I see as a gift, especially when I am struggling with redefining who I am, but in actuality it is. It is the closest thing Michael and kids like him have to reading people, as long as they learn to trust their inner compass in a world that does not always get their literalness and need for complete explanations and control. Oh, another thing I am super proud of. Michael’s keen sense of observation. He will see what someone is wearing or doing and comment on it. I am learning how to praise that power of observations while teaching him to keep those details to himself. He may make a fine writer one day, I say. 🙂

Exceptional Parents, what are you most proud of in regards to your Exceptional Children’s accomplishments? They all have talents be it musical, memory, computer, or other. Praise them. Encourage them. Set appropriate and healthy limits. And if you fail, admit it. Tell them what you need to fix to grow. That will continue to help you both grow for the better. Until next time.

am a writer and parent coach at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance.” I am passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparenting.net.

How are you holding up this holiday as an Exceptional Parent? Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS

How To Get Your Special Need Child To Open Up To You

 

Communication is something tough for all Exceptional Children, including the super verbal ones like Michael. And now that he is entering puberty, yikes. Out come the metaphorical claws and holding back. He has openly said that he is keeping details of his day from me. He has openly told me not to touch him. He is not a baby. He does not want my hugs like before. And he does not want to play certain things. ” I am a big boy now.” He’ll tell me. I’m proud of his growing up, but this combined with his smart mouth where he’ll utter things like he is the boss and in charge, and well, I love my child but there are days I don’t like him. There are days I say the wrong thing too. He is already making sure he gets ALL his birthday presents he had asked for. We told him he will get most, and he cannot be looking at getting everything. That is not possible for any kid. I got so angry to  that I called him a spoiled brat. I felt so ashamed once the words were out of my mouth. He was pushing his luck, testing his boundaries, but is not spoiled. Yes, we give him things, but not oodles. It was my anger at him pushing me more away and yet demanding more from me with questions, challenging my authority, and complaining that we had to stay home yesterday afternoon due to freezing rain. At bedtime, he asked me if I meant the comment I said or did I say it in anger. He says a lot of bad things to me in anger, which he apologizes for. Dad and I are always reminding him to think before he speaks and to use better language. I admitted that I failed on these accounts that evening myself.

We also had a fight at bedtime with stalling, but then lying down next to him for those ten minutes he opened up and apologized for everything. I accepted and told him I loved him. Another time I was lying there wondering if I was staying too long next to him after a very challenging evening where we’d had several face offs. We’d made up and it was quiet. I was just about to leave when he shared something with me a classmate had done.

“He threw a computer Mommy. ”

“Oh my. Were you scared Michael?”

“NO, but I did jump. Then the teacher took him to the psychologist’s office and it was ok in the class.”

I would not have had the privilege of hearing this had I not been in his room at 9:15 pm that night. It showed my how exceptional kids open up at the strangest times and in the strangest ways to their parents sometimes. It also reminded me how in spite of how much he is testing and wearing me down lately, I must be firm, clear on what I expect, but also show him how important he is to me and how much I love him. Yesterday afternoon I had to work for a few hours. He asked Dad to wait for me to start the movie that he wanted to watch. He really wanted to watch it as a family. Usually for the logistics, Dad will be with him while I work and vice versa. Other than church or visiting family, we are not often in the same room. We are trying to remedy that now.

Exceptional Parents, how do you get your Exceptional Children to share things with you? I think the first thing to do is just be present for them, physically, mentally and spiritually. Show them and tell them every day how much you love them. Make them feel special because they are even when they drive you crazy. Love is about being there through it all. Make sure they know you are. Until next time.

am a writer and parent coach at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance.” I am passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparenting.net.

 Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety around the holidays? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS

 

 

 

 

 

After the Festivities Are Over-5 Ways to Fine Tune And Help With Difficulties

 

As you will all see this post is late today. VERY late. I am in “Christmas Recovery” mode which lasts for two days before we go into “Birthday Recovery Mode” for Michael with which I need another day’s recovery, but that is a separate post. 🙂 Like most families with exceptional kids, the holidays are beautiful and stressful all in one breath. There are the moments you see them sitting quietly and listening and you take a breath in and are able to talk to family. Then, there are the other moments when, well, you look forward to coming home and having that nice glass of wine when they are finally asleep. I had many of both moments throughout the day yesterday. I had my discouraging moments when I was kind of feeling sorry for myself among my family whose children are neuro typical and listen. Then of course, I immediately felt guilty. Guilty due to the fact that Michael, and all kids like him who have autism or are exceptional in some other way, are doing the best that they can. It is not an excuse for rudeness and disrespect. We had a talk yesterday about how he needs to follow the rules, and if he is having a hard time he needs to tell us. I also reminded him, as he knows about his autism, that it is not an excuse to be used to misbehave. We know he is capable of more than what he is doing. We spoke some more this in the am. He is so anxious, has a lot of difficulty regulating himself and friendships are challenging though he is starting to learn how to play and talk with his many good friends.

What did I learn this holiday? Well, every year I look at what our family did right and what we did wrong. I tally them up and keep it in mind for the next year. This year, my mind is in a better place. I not only accept that there will be ups and downs in the next two weeks, but I am using better ways to cope with my own feelings of success and failure as parent. We all have those moments. We are human. What are the ways I fine tune my own thinking for future holidays? Here are 5 of them:

 

  1. Each day I do the best I can with what I have: This is my new mantra. I have moments when I doubt myself and my mothering, but I remind myself what I remind Michael: do the best that you can and go with your instinct.
  2. Get as much sleep as you can or grab a rest here or there: Sleep is essential. The first two days of the holidays I slept a total of 10 hours, never mind the bad sleeping of the nights before leading up to the holidays.What I did instead to make up for it, was grabbing a rest on the couch when Dad was with Michael. He did the same. This morning I felt much better waking up after seven hours of sleep.
  3. Laugh at the silly things: Our kids do SO many silly things. As long as it is not rude, it’s alright t to laugh. Hey, sometimes even the rude things are a little funny like when Michael repeated back to me when I was getting upset, “Mommy, you’re not using your strategies.” Just don’t laugh out loud.
  4. What went right? What could I change? This is where can see what strategies worked in preparing their child for a family visit and which didn’t. Don’t beat yourself up. I learned that arriving near the beginning of my family gatherings at a house is easier on Michael even if he gets bored and we have to leave early. Coming in midway like we did this year was too overwhelming for all of us.
  5. Have a wind down routine after if you need to: Oh yes. Now after two days of celebrating with both our families which is wonderful but exhausting, I make sure to take my glass of wine or spirits (or both) with me and curl up with a good book. It’s my way to unwind from the two days and tell myself, “Girl, you survived and learned what to do and not to do.”

Exceptional Parents, what are your holiday survival techniques? How do you recover alone and as a family? Another great thing is to not be afraid to cry or let out anger in a constructive way. The holidays are not picture perfect for anyone, except in the movies. I also highly recommend popping into online parent support group and attending any in person ones you are a member of in the new year. Comparing notes with others in your shoes will remind you that you are not alone. You and your families are doing the best that you can. Until next time.

am a writer and parent coach at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance.” I am passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparenting.net.

It’s the holidays, one of the most beautiful and crazy times of the year! Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety and stress? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS

 

 

 

Learning to Live in the Moment of Christmas With My Exceptional Son

Each Christmas has posed its own challenges for me as an Exceptional Mom. And every year, I have made the same promise to myself; that I will not get overwhelmed myself, get angry, and feel stressed when I can’t help Michael. I have usually failed in having this success at going with the flow of the holidays for one simple reason;  I was just saying words. The words were lovely in essence, but I wasn’t really practicing what I was preaching; tolerance for things not going exactly according to plan, worries about other member of my family or friends judging my parenting decisions, and my own little girl notions of what a “perfect” family Christmas should be. Heck, even my friends with neuro typical kids don’t experience that perfect a Christmas. But what could I say? I was a perfectionist. Now, I am a realist. I make mistakes with Michael. I make personal mistakes too. But that critical inner voice, the one that used to tell me I was stupid and something was wrong with me is gone. The hard work I started doing years ago has paid off, and though there are still things I am working on to improve in myself, the process is gentle and loving now, as I would do with Michael.

What is different about this year is that I know Christmas won’t be perfect. I don’t want perfection anymore. What I want is the best Christmas I and my family can have within our emotional parameters. I also remind myself what I have always known, but this year due to work and Michael’s exta challenges, I got away from. All cliches aside, Christmas is not about presents, decorations, or parties. It’s about a feeling deep down inside of light, peace, gratitude, helping others and goodness. Whether you celebrate  Christmas, Hanukkah, Qwanza, or the Winter Solstice, it’s really all about the same things; light and love coming into the world. It’s about people coming together to bring this light and remember we are all one people. This year I had to miss two Sundays of Church. I did my Advent prayers and lit the candles once a week, but I did not take a lot of time for God and prayer and contemplation like I had planned in between mass and my quick prayers of thanksgiving in morning and at bedtime. No matter. I will start today on Christmas Eve, get immersed in the beauty of Christmas Eve Mass as usual, and I  will continue for the holiday season and beyond to try and be a light in the world for myself, my family, and  others who cross my path. I will be that light for Michael even when we both struggle with peace inside.

Exceptional Parents, do you know that you are the light of your child’s world? The holidays are a great time to connect to whatever religions or spirituality you believe in, if you are a spiritual person. If not, meditation is a wonderful way to connect to a powerful Source, to nature to the Universe and feel recharged and whole. Take this holiday season to slow down. There is no “one” way to celebrate the holidays, other than finding that light inside of yourself, keeping your loved ones near, and remembering to charge your spirit with love and peace to be the best channel for your child. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza and a Blesssed Winter Solstice. Wishing you and your families Happy and Healthy Holidays. Until next time.

am a writer and parent coach at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance.” I am passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparenting.net

Are you and your exceptional family ready for the holiday season? Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety and stress? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS

How To Plan For A Calm And Peaceful Holiday With Your Exceptional Child

It’s here. The last day of school before Christmas Eve. I am filled with excitement and fear, as I always am at this time of year. I feel excitement for obvious reasons; seeing family, catching up, eating great food, opening presents. Fear is something only other families of exceptional children will understand. It’s the fear of the new routine, and how it will affect Michael and our family. It is the fear of increased tantrums and meltdowns, Michael’s and ours, as we try to make the holiday a peaceful and happy one for the most part. My expectations for Michael are different than when he was a baby. My own expectations about the holiday are different too as are Dad’s. We just want peace. Not perfection. We just want to make it through the day without battles, crying and feeling overwhelmed. We know this is hard. Someone with autism has challenges in a regular routine in our crazy world. Throw in a holiday that lasts two weeks without the same structure and well, you need to expect some chaos. It’s how you manage the chaos as a parent. I can never get used to the fact that the happiest times of the year for other people are the hardest ones for families whose children have exceptional challenges.

Dad and I have had our good days managing our emotions around Michael’s behaviors and our bad days. This week has been a mix of both. It is with caution this year that we are embarking on Christmas. We spoke earlier this morning about what has to change in our household, with Michael, and with how we individually handle our own emotions. The time of year is difficult too with the shorter darker days.  All I know is what I don’t want to do. I love my child, but the last month it has been hard to like him. There I said it. Dad feels this way too. When he tests and fights us on everything it is draining and frustrating. I count down the minutes till bedtime when I can have an hour or two of peace and pray for strength to be there for him in the morning. It is not how I want to go into Christmas, but there you have it. I know Michael has entered puberty and is trying out new things. He’s seeing how far he can push. As parents, we need to remain strong, united. Most of the time we are , but we are only human and have our moments when we fail Michael and ourselves. We get up, dust ourselves off, and start again.

Exceptional Parents, what are you planning to do to have a calm and peaceful holiday? Are you visiting relatives or staying in? Are they coming to you? Remember, whatever you decide to do, make sure it will bring you and your family peace overall. You need to think of the whole picture of the holiday and what will make your child, and other children as well as you and your partner, happy and content. There are no perfect families and holiday scenarios even in neuro typical families. Don’t strive for that. Strive instead to be true to yourself and your family, and do what will give everyone happiness and health and balance. Happy Holidays! Until next time.

Joanne Giacomini is a writer, speaker and parent coach at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance” www.exceptionalparenting.net. She also blogs on her personal blog, “Exceptional Mom/Exceptional Child” at www.exceptionalmomchild. com,  about how her son with autism is raising her! She writes regularly about parenting and autism at “M List,” as “Montreal Autism Mom”, “The West Island Suburban’s “Parenting 101 bloggers,” and “Huff Post Parents Canada”. Her posts on parenting and autism have been featured on “BlogHer Family-Special Needs”, ”Her View From Home”,  “Romper”, “Yummy Mummy Club Canada, as well as “Scary Mommy.” She also writes for “The Things”,“Baby Gaga” and “The Talko.”You can follow Joanne on Twitter @exceptmomchild.

One of the hardest and 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” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS

Ready, Set, Go-How to Teach Your Exceptional Child to Accept the Consequences of Their Actions

I am proud of Michael for so many things. He is becoming increasingly independent in dressing, eating and deciding on his likes/dislikes. His navigation skills are getting better. He is learning how to behave in stores and how money works. And at school he is reading and writing beautifully. But it is on afternoons and evenings like this when he is overstimulated, unable to regulate himself that he struggles so intensely. This time of year is always hard on him too. I feel for him, but yet I know he knows better and could do better. He says he loves no homework, but the lack of structure makes it difficult for him. He has nothing to do after school. Couple that in with a fun day today of the Santa Breakfast where he had too much food, then did not like the park he went sledding to, as well as feeling tired and boom, he had his first meltdown right after school. His challenging behavior goes from hitting us, to hitting property, to hitting his head. Then he will swear, the “f” words, the “s” word. It is continuous. It is done to drive us crazy and see how far he can push.

He has openly and happily said that at home he doesn’t have anything to lose. I corrected him on that by telling him not so. We may not have a behavior tech on staff, but if he loses all his tokens and continues, he will lose his reward and if he continues after that, he will lose his fun bedtime routine. Dad and I remaining calm, but it is difficult when he is yelling and asking us to repeat ourselves and trying to control every move we make, by following us and yelling and crying. He is fighting for himself, and the negotiating he is doing make me see the future lawyer in him. Still all jokes aside, the energy he is wasting could be put to better use, calming himself down and asking for help. Finding the right formula for the right time of year is the hard part.

Teaching our kids to de-stress and feel their anxiety before it blows out of proportion is the challenging part. It is particularly challenging when techniques that used to work don’t work anymore. I make Michael part of the solution process, though so far we have only had minimal success. I am trying to get him to be more in touch with his body, with what is happening inside before he volcanoes and I can’t stop him from hitting me, himself or property. It is not a tantrum, not a meltdown, but a little bit of both. He is enraged and I stay nearby to make sure he doesn’t do serious damage, but yet can’t touch him. That is another problem. He is on the cusp of puberty, so he is restricting my hugs and kisses, unless on his terms. It is understandable, but makes for a further stress in helping him. As with all anxiety and anger management issues, it requires lots of trial and error till as a parent you find what works for your child. We have our ups and downs, and then find our middle ground.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle the challenges of behavior in your child? What methods have worked for you? What have not? The important thing is to never give up trying to reach your child. If you make a mistake, admit it to yourself and them. But also, have them own up to their mistakes. If a child cannot take responsibility for their actions, you will not be able to reach them no matter what you do. And take heart. We all make mistakes. Tomorrow is another day. Until next time.

am a writer and parent coach at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance.” I am passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparenting.net

One of the hardest and 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” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS

Exceptional Children And Exceptional Patience-5 Ways This Mom is Learning to Stay Calm And Move On

 

This is the time of year that is difficult for most Exceptional Parents and their children. As I’ve blogged before there are lots of things happening that are unpredictable-parties, change of sleep and waking hours, visitors coming in and out, and the routine of school and work being momentarily interrupted. This causes stress to a lot of Exceptional Children who are used to their routines which provide a lot of comfort. If anxiety is high, knowing what to expect next can help, not knowing what or who will come by is a great source of stress, and this can set off all kinds of behaviors and issues. The thing is, it is always best to try not to get the whole family in an uproar in the first place by not having stressful events occur or at least occur less. How do I keep calm and move on modeling a more relaxed way of being to Michael? Here are 5 ways I am learning to do this:

  1. Breathe and stay in the moment: Obvious one I know, but that was always hard in the past when Michael would start escalating. I had a few bad nights with him last week when I forgot this, so I now I remind myself every morning to do this when I am calm, usually after prayer and morning meditation.
  2. Don’t react to obvious button pushers: All kids will test and try things; swearing, spitting, spilling things, hitting. Calmly with no eye contact ask them to stop, clean up, and remind them of negative repercussions if they don’t listen.
  3. Model the behavior you want them to imitate:  A direct no hitting, no slapping and warning of walking away if child continues, is the way to go. This is hard, but stay strong. The behavior gets worse before it gets better as the child will see how far they can go.
  4. Be mindful of what you say and how you say it: Our children are so perceptive. We not only have to watch our choice of words, i.e. no swearing,  our tone, but also how we say things.  For example, the other day I accidentally chipped some paint off of a wall in our house while cleaning it. I said to Dad, “oh well, we need to paint it anyway.” Michael turned it around the next time he punched a wall when angry  and we told him not to do that. He responded: “It’s ok Mommy. It’s an old wall. It needs to get fixed.”  I corrected him and reminded myself that intentionally or not, kids misinterpret.
  5. Have fun with your child even with the ups and downs: This is challenging. There have been days I have wished I did not have to defuse situations. I have wished I could  call someone up last minute and say, “here’s all yours for the day!” But there are good moments in between. Lots of them. I savor these, and I know when he senses trust Michael relaxes and lets loose in a positive way.

Exceptional Parents, what are your calm down strategies to stay level as a parent? Remember, unless we have it together, our kids won’t be able to learn to get it together either. We are Exceptional Parents for the long haul, and with any luck, we will show our kids such a great example of being present, handling obstacles, and learning from their mistakes, that they will be reminding us one day if we slip up. Until next time.

am a writer and parent coach at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance.” I am passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google Plus. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparenting.net

Tired of anxiety controlling you and your child? Download my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS