Separating Puberty from Exceptional Needs And Where To Find Your Child

Tonight was Parent/Teacher Night at Michael’s school. As usual, it was a good experience. Michael is a pleasure to teach, and the wonderful teachers and dedicated staff are doing everything possible to hone his strengths and help Michael with his weaknesses. I am also seeing something new coming out on his report card. The Michael present there is very similar to the Michael at home, that is, minus the aggression thank goodness and even that is getting better at home. Michael’s difficulty focusing on the task at hand and his anxiety when he catches himself are present in both places. Michael’s challenges with puberty are present in both places too. Sometimes it is cute and funny, as in the case of a crush he has developed on a staff member. Sometimes it is coming out in silliness or a bit of rebellion, such as getting carried away talking too much and some mild back tack, mostly directed at his parents. What I am noticing though for the most part, is a lot of this is all regular puberty stuff, away and apart from his exceptional needs. Then there are things like diabetes and his autism and ADHD which complicate puberty a little more.

In the end though, my child is caught somewhere in the middle. His teacher, a very compassionate and caring man, spoke of how challenging puberty is for ALL kids, whether they have special needs or not. He also spoke of how for Michael it will be more intense, due to his other challenges, but that he would come through it. I agreed. We all come through, puberty no matter what.  We need to all be aware of what is puberty, and what are his challenges. That is something I am gradually getting better at recognizing. A year and more ago it was so hard to find out where Michael’s true character was in all his conditions. Yes, they are a part of him, but they are not all him. Michael is Michael and would have been Michael with or without autism, ADHD, and type 1 diabetes. He, like all of us, is more than the sum of his parts. Never lose the child within. That is what I constantly remind myself of.

Remember, for educational and life purposes, sometimes having a label or labels on your child is helpful to get them the help and support they need in educational or work settings. But, their unique personality, the way they look at the world, their interests and passions, would most likely have been a part of their personality no matter what. As you get further on the exceptional parenting journey with them, you will see their true personality come out, and just as good, be able to see what is caused by their challenges and what is caused by other factors. This means you will finally be seeing your whole child. If you are extra lucky, you will have a teacher and educational team that will also support you in this effort. We have been and are lucky in this regard.

Exceptional Parents, how good are you at looking at your child as a whole person and not a set of diagnoses? We are all guilty of seeing our children’s challenges and not the whole more than once in a while. It is normal. But once you start to see how life stage events like puberty  affect all kids, no matter how their brain works, you will begin to see your child in all their beauty for the first time. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD  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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