Summer is a time for fun and relaxation and spontaneity, right? Well, in an exceptional family this is both true and false. Yes, life cannot be fully scripted. It is not a flexible way for a child to learn to live, especially a child with autism who often has some rigidities and gets fixed on things unrolling in a particular way all the time. This is not realistic, and can even end up being stressful. Think of the family that structures the child’s (and family’s) entire day, and one little thing changes. A child like may freak out, and their stress and Mom and Dad’s would be even worse in the end. I know this first hand as this used to be our family, with the freaking out that is. There was also the good part about structuring the day on paper that we still use now, or rather are back to using. You see, Michael and us need a little bit of both to function smoothy-scheduling and flexibility. So where do we find the balance?
It’s gotten a lot easier as Michael has become verbal. We can explain why sometimes plans have to change and what stays put in the day. But there are other times that I’ve learned that talking too much increases Michael’s anxiety and then Dad and I are looking at doing damage control for the rest of the morning, afternoon, or evening. So what we do is have a flexible schedule on paper and will sometimes shift things as necessary, if for example the weather does not allow an outdoor event. We also let Michael help us make the family schedule, not giving him full control, but a role in the planning and execution. Then there are those times that for whatever reason, things do not work out. Dad and I have learned to be relaxed and go with the flow, and Michael is starting to do the same. It’s not always easy. Last week we miscommunicated about a bike ride route. When I realized how far Michael wanted to bike (not realistic for his level or our time that day) I gently told him and explained how I had misunderstood him. At first he was upset and he told me he needed some time to calm down. Then he miraculously did calm down after some deep breathing and talking to me about how he feels. I was so proud of him. He was learning how to “go with the flow.” That day a few of our plans had to change due to weather changes, and he handled it like a champ.
Exceptional Parents, do you “go with the flow” in your life and model that for your child? How are they at doing it? Don’t despair if this is a big problem in your family. It will take time and effort on your part to find the scheduling and flexibility balance. Try out different scenarios on days when you feel your child is at their best physically and mentally. And then stand back. You will be amazed when you see your child get better at handling change, their emotions, and everything in between. Until next time.
I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.
For more information on my coaching services, see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparentingg.com, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS.