Watching Your Exceptional Child Thrive At Their Own Pace- How To Hang On To That Joy

He is doing it! He is really doing it! He is running through the splash pad  sprinklers, the big ones in the park. He is standing under the big pail that dunks tons of water on his head. He is not afraid. He is fearless. I am proud being words. Three years ago when splash pads first became available in our community and around our suburbs, I started taking Michael to them. He loved the water, being the little fish that he is , but was overwhelmed by some of the more bigger sprinklers and the intensity of the water.

We went to a nearby splash pad on a play date with a friend who was two years older. That friend ran through everything and was even lying down on the ground to let the intensity of the water cool him off on that hot summer afternoon. Michael? He ran briefly through one of the smaller sprinklers then rock/stimmed his way around the perimeter. He had not done that since preschool. He was obviously overwhelmed and trying to acclimate. After about twenty minutes, I tried to coax him in. The friend was looking for him. I was worried. I even went in with him. I did that a lot. Yes, I would put on my bathing suit running with glee and exaggerated excitement to get Michael more comfortable. It began to slowly work, but he always needed me or a friend in the splash park to have fun. Then, this summer happened. The change was incredible. Michael was running around the entire park by himself. And with some trepidation, he approached the biggest sprinkler where a can of water is dumped on your head. Last year we stood under this together and both got dunked. This year he was ready to do it alone. Now all I hear is “Mommy, look at me! Look at what I am doing! Film it Mommy! Film it!” Last night watching him running through with absolute joy on his face screaming with delight, I realized he had accomplished yet another milestone-overcoming the loud intensity of a splash park where it is busy with other kids and the water pressure varies.

This is especially exciting as I see how difficult Michael’s emotional and physical life has been over the past year. He is having to deal with all of these things, work regularly with a new therapeutic team for physical and mental health issues, and is having to come to terms with most likely two new diagnoses that he is still being evaluated for. One he is aware of and we have spoken to him about it as we did about autism when he asked. We explained it just means his brain works differently, and told him about many people who are happy and successful and have this kind of brain. That helped a lot.

But back to his gains. I have seen a rising independence in Michael being proactive with his leisure times, overcoming previous fears, and just grasping things from two or three years ago that we did not know he would ever get or like. It impressed me so much and it was a gentle reminder to me that kids who have different brains may take longer to get certain concepts, but when the do they soar. As parents, we must be there to show them, encourage them, and then let them spread their wings and fly.

Exceptional Parents, how do you feel when your Exceptional Child achieves a new milestone or something you thought they might never do? I’m sure you are beyond proud and in awe of them. Remember to keep those feelings of awe and pride in your child at the front of your mind always. The reason is when the tough times come, and they will, you will have some positive memories that show you that your child has this potential  of doing great things when they are not stuck. They will achieve all the dreams you have for them, but on their own term and in their own time. It’s up to you to be there in the cheering section encouraging them to keep at it always. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website,

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