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.
I 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