Michael is at that interesting age, not quite a young man, but not a baby yet either. He is really not a baby, and will remind me of that daily. It is still complicated further by the fact that developmentally in some ways he is still a little boy. So as his Mom I am constantly bouncing between the three; little boy, tween, and developing young man. His questions about life, his future, and even little tiffs about doing things for himself due to the fact he is “a big boy Mommy,” are all ways I am seeing him truly growing up before my eyes. It is wonderful. And the questions. Oh the questions he asks. I have to be careful sometimes when I answer. We are both talkers. I will often give long answers which will have me talking a lot. Then he will talk a lot, and with Michael it’s tricky. Talking about things can make him more anxious in some ways. It feeds the anxiety. Yet talking is important to get his feelings out. It is also my way to explain how I am feeling. Now thought I am finding a way to talk less and listen more to him. I am also learning to talk in shorter sentences and encourage him to do the same. There is no need anymore to work on building his vocabulary. What he needs to work on now is more understanding people’s facial expressions, emotions, and how he fits into the conversation.
The morning with lots of talking are fun and exhausting at the same time. Still, I remember the days I prayed he would talk to me. They are here now and that is wonderful. I hear from parents who have the opposite problem, a child who cannot speak or communicate verbally, and that is so hard in another way. There is fine balance between verbal and non verbal too, that both camps of Moms want to find. That is the way to have a great relationship with our children. They must know when to speak and when to be quiet. We must teach them to grow up independent while also following parents’ rules which keep them safe. With a child who has special needs there are lots of different things going on at the same time. It is challenging. They have to wear many hats to survive being day to day in our world and fit in with the other people around them, and we, as their parents, also have to wear hats, hats to help our child understand neuro typical people and help neuro typical people understand them.
I used to be all about getting Michael to fit into my world, the neuro typical world. I did not see how weird it must be for him. The whole other county, other language people speak that our exceptional kids don’t always get. What has helped me as an exceptional parent is reading blogs by other exceptional adults who have autism or other neuro developmental challenges. They understand Michael in a way I am only learning to. They show the rest of the world that does not have an autistic brain how people with autism think, feel and what they can contribute. I am humbled when I read their blogs, and consider it my duty to help the world understand people like Michael. He has brought such joy into my life, our family and to people around him. He struggles to understand things in the world, but still he is happy, positive and loves simple pleasures- time with family and friends, navigating Google Maps, cooking and baking. He makes me realize how talking and listening to each other are important for all of us.
Exceptional Parents, how are you handling the age transitions with your Exceptional Children? Do you feel like you walk a tightrope sometimes figuring out how best to explain things or when to stay quiet? All parents have to juggle this to a certain extent. In our case, it just means that we need to surround ourselves with good support systems: other parents who get our struggle, reading about or talking to adults who have autism to get more of a look inside our children’s brains, and making sure to promote neuro diversity, not just because of what our kids have taught us, but because it’s pretty cool how different we all are and that needs to be celebrated, even if sometimes we have crossed communication lines. 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