Day: January 3, 2017

The Importance of Handling Anger and Exhaustion in Exceptional Families

I can’t believe all that was in there.  This is what I was thinking on New Year’s Eve when all hell broke loose inside me, all the stress of trying to hold it together during the last month of 2016, hold it together while Michael’s behaviors became more challenging, and Dad was busy at work and in the evenings turned in early to bed to keep his sanity. I thought I was doing ok. I was wrong. I had tried my best, but when Michael started to debate about the quality of his birthday presents, the latest bunch he was getting from relatives, I couldn’t keep it together anymore. All week I was defusing defiance, temper tantrums and misunderstandings. I pictured a quiet unassuming New Year’s Eve and instead got a huge fight where I had to completely disconnect. I unfortunately was not done with my anger on New Year’s Day. I woke up with it. I realized I was angry at Michael and at me for not handling my emotions better, not taking better mental care at a time of year that is challenging for all of us. Mostly, I was filled with self-pity, something I hate to give others and try not to, and something I hate to receive.

Feeling better yesterday and slowly coming back to myself, I realized that lots of exceptional people and their families struggle so much at this time of year to try to do  things right, to fit themselves into the holiday. It should be the other way around. They need to find ways to celebrate that are less demanding and stressful on their nervous system. Through various things out of our control, Michael’s 10th birthday was blown a little out of proportion. When he gets overstimulated, he talks and obsesses more about something and gets quite wound up. I mistook this in my own wound-up-ness as him being spoiled and privileged. That is how my parents would have seen it with their neuro typical children. I was wrong. I was also trying so hard to downplay the festivities and was so exhausted by New Year’s Eve, that my patience level was at zero. So Michael’s misunderstandings were misinterpreted by me and my anger exploded. I had so much of it. So much stress and worry from 2016 just kept pouring out. It was the purge to finally reset myself and hopefully, my boys did the same.

After looking back yesterday to learn from my mistakes, I realized something.  I always tell Michael about the importance of letting out his emotions as they come up. Bottling up anger hurts you. I need to remember as a Mom to do the same. I also remembered that people mean well, but that Dad and I need to be on top of things when we see Michael feeling overloaded even in a good way. We can teach him ways to regulate during this time and demonstrate how we do it. Calm is contagious, but so is stress. I am glad we are back to calm in these new days of 2017.

Exceptional Parents, how do you model calm and keep yourself from getting burned out? Yes, it starts with you. Only when you as a parent have it together, can you show your Exceptional Child that they too have a safe place to regulate and reset their own anxiety. Find what works for you, and don’t be afraid to put those methods into place all year around. 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:

New Year. New anxiety management strategies may be a good idea. Download my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY”