They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, a child who is exceptional with a different brain needs an even bigger village. You see, with an exceptional child, as they catch up on milestones, parents are often raising not just their child at their actual age. Most of our kids are not at that age in most things. In some areas, they are at an infant or toddler level, other areas a younger child, and then there are their “gift” areas where they are far advanced than their neuro typical peers and even some adults. It’s enough to give the average parent a headache, and sometimes as I’ve noticed with Michael, I have to pause and take a second to see, who is he now, and what is the best way to approach this question, behavior, etc. I have been told by many professionals to remember that he has significant communication deficits, even when he asks the “BIG” questions. This is true. I have also been told that, regardless of autism, a different brain and way of seeing the world, he is at heart a little boy. Don’t put too much on him or explain too much. I have learned to do this too. But Michael has also shown me, and continues to show me, how to be a versatile parent and jump through the developmental stages as he is doing.
There was a morning a few days ago that I was hugging a much younger frightened child who was worried about an upcoming appointment he felt nervous about. I hesitated, what would help him? I held him as he cried. He hadn’t reacted this way in a long time, and usually now will tell me “Don’t touch me. I’m a big boy.” He let me hold him, and I spoke to him that sometimes we need to do things that scare us and it’s ok to be scared. He nodded slowly. Then I asked Michael if he would feel better if I wrote a social story about the upcoming appointment. He agreed. We read it several times. We agreed to let him bring his Barney stuffed animal to the appointment, and it went very well. Here I was helping a much younger child. Another day, I had to relay a change of news and I was bracing myself for a reaction. Michael instead surprised me and made a more age appropriate choice to give up the activity we would not have time to do with barely a raised eyebrow. Still, another time when I was lost somewhere, Michael calmly directed me out with an alternate route. Here he was older than his age.
How can a parent navigate through this? It starts by first knowing your child’s strengths and weaknesses, or rather their at age abilities and their under and above age activities. It also means reminding yourself that your child is never as behind or as advanced as you think, and this can shift daily as they grow in their abilities and catching up. Above all, it means having patience, staying calm, and tuning into your own growth or where you still need to grow and stretch to get your child more. This is where talking to other parents, professionals, and reading works by adults who have autism or different-abled brains can give you a glimpse into your child that you may not see. Regardless, trust that you know your child’s unique brain and emotional makeup better than anybody. And remember, as a friend recently told me, our children go through a lot just to survive a day in our super sensory world. Let’s give them a hand fro that, and us a hand for being their guides in our world as they are our guides in theirs.
Exceptional Parents, who are you speaking to today? Remember, your child’s abilities ebb and flow depending on the day, hour, week. Be patient with their growth curve and your own as your parent them. Be gentle with yourself. Also, remember to keep your sense of humor. Your child will do funny, strange and beautiful things that will have your child reeling. Be ready to just be in the moment learning with them. You won’t regret it. 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