Seeing Your Exceptional Child For Who They Are – Not What They Have

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It’s been a long week adjusting to Michael’s new diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes along with his anxiety associated with autism. Michael has actually been doing better than Dad and I. This does not surprise me. He is a strong kid and a smart one too. He also adjusts well to routine and Type 1 Diabetes is nothing if not getting used to a new routine of 4 injections a day, having them rotated in certain spots, and a whole new way of looking at food and portion control. The last one has been hard for Michael (and us) to start adjusting to, but we are getting  there slowly as a family. Why Dad and I are struggling more really, is due to the fact that the doctors’ appointments, papers and charts to fill out, and everything else to be learned about Type 1 Diabetes rests with us. This is as it should, of course. Michael is just a kid. He also has the hardest part in all of this. After all, Dad and I are not the diabetics.  He is. He is the one the most affected by it, just like by his autism.  It has changed his life even more than ours, but still, ours has been irrevocably turned upside down. I don’t look at food the same. Neither does Dad.  This is both good and bad. However, the life we had two weeks ago of carefree eating at whatever time we wanted (within reason with a child of course), is gone too. I am still mourning that as is Dad probably.  We will be bouncing in between those 7 stages of grief for a while I know. It was the same with autism. Ours lives became all about it for awhile, until we learned it was just a part of who we are as a family, not the entire piece. The same will happen with diabetes. The adjustment will take time though.

It is also very different to be mourning my pre-diabetic child from when I mourned my pre-autism child. With diabetes we were immediately given a team, a handbook, and injections to help Michael heal and control his symptoms. With autism, well, there is no real handbook. The team comes much later, as do what therapies to pursue or not. I have been told it has been getting better for new families. Parents have greater access to information and get their child diagnosed, though it still costs a lot of money as public resources are limited. The grieving for this diagnosis is proceeding differently for me too. I will have my crying spells here and there. With autism, it pretty much all came out at once. After that, it was just fear and worry about the future. That has gotten better with time as I see how far Michael has come.

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So Dad and I are pacing ourselves, keeping Michael’s behaviors in check due to the wonderful help we had last year, and reminding ourselves that Michael is not one hundred percent defined by his two diagnoses of autism and diabetes. He is  defined, however, by the kind of person we raise him to be. He is also defined as a sweet, loving, and capable little boy who will live a full life as long as we show him he can by how we live our lives fully as a family alongside him. Letting go of fear completely is still too new for me and Dad. But each day we get closer to becoming more fearless and optimistic. In time we will help Michael manage diabetes as well as he manages some of the more challenging aspects of his autism.

Exceptional Parents,  do you sometimes make the mistake of seeing your child as their diagnosis or diagnoses? This is very normal as the caregivers. However, remember your child must learn to live in the world as their individual self, not as a collection of symptoms and challenges. Tell them the truth. Their diagnosis or diagnoses do define some of who they are, but not all of it. Their spirit, their humor, their joy, and the way they approach life, will be what determines their success. The same goes for you as their Exceptional Parent. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism and Type 1 Diabetes 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 joanne@creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS.

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