How My Son’s Anxiety Has Helped Me Learn To Regulate My Own Anxiety

 

My son Michael is an amazing kid. He is funny, intelligent, has a great memory and is very active and musical. He also has autism and anxiety together. This is common with the vast majority of people who have autism, I believe, but I’m sure they are not mutually exclusive to all people who have autism. Just as neuro typical people are not the same, not all autistic people are the same either. Michael shows me every day how I am wrong about things sometimes, about what he can and can’t do, about what he knows, and also about not trusting him to find a way out. I am getting better with that last one in the last two years. I am no longer rushing to rescue him from discomfort, stressful feelings with hugs and kisses. Ok, he also is starting to push me away there as is developmentally normal at ten. But I still manage to show him love, support and care by reminding him to use the strategies he is learning with his psychologist’s help. Little reminders along the way can do wonders and yesterday after a rough moment, he actually admitted, “I needed to bring my thought cards with me to help me.” I was so proud of him.

 

It was a great day yesterday. He and I were home from school and work, though I am always squeezing in writing here and there, but I unfortunately lost my voice. I have had laryngitis a few times in my life. It is hard for me, not being able to talk. Ask anyone who knows me. Easter Day I’d had to raise my voice a few times with Michael and had already started a cold so it was no surprise. Michael was perplexed by the virus, and a few times was shocked I could barely whisper. He was grateful we still did things, but he questioned me on so many things. I never really heard how many times a day he asked certain questions till the day I could only nod and shake my head. I heard myself and my own anxiety through him. When I was younger and even back some years in adulthood, I would worry like him. I have come far in healing myself and I see that Michael has a ways to go, but he is working hard and getting there slowly. It was cute when he said at dinner time that he hoped I could talk tomorrow as it was “boring to not talk with me.” I was overjoyed at this. It brought me back to a time he did not want to engage, then did but did not know how. It is still challenging for him to read social signals, anxiety is high, but we are bridging the gap and getting there together.

 

Exceptional Parents, have your Exceptional Children shown you ways to handle your own anxiety better if you have it or has your anxiety gotten worse? I think it depends on the day for most of us, as some days we are all wanting to jump out the window. But in general think to yourself, how have I helped my child grow, how have they helped me grow? There really is a lot of back and forth in healthy parent child relationships. Together as you both grow and learn, you will find your own ways to connect and move out of the darkness into the light of understanding each other better. Until next time.

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