Month: January 2020

Official Exceptional Teendome and Teaching Your Child To Work With You

There is an exceptional teen in the house! It became official at the end of December, and though Michael started showing early signs of being in puberty at  11, it has been an even more intense ride in the last year. As he has slowly started pushing away towards more independence, the desire for approval, attention, connection and time spent together talking has also intensified and on some days, even increased. I am both glad and a little overwhelmed by this at times, but happy that Michael does still want to connect and tell me things. I know this is the age, for any kid, when they start pushing away from parents. Don’t get me wrong. I hear daily that he does not love me. He likes me.  Love is reserved for girls he has crushes on. No matter how many times I or Dad has told him there are lots of kinds of love, he will move back to romantic love.  I get it. He’s experimenting with different ways of relating, and well, Mom is good for bouncing ideas off on, taking me places and chatting, but hey, I don’t love her like when I was a baby.

The thing is though that other things I did not think would be important for Michael now are-fitting in with friends, watching ‘cool’ videos, going out places alone as he does not want to be seen with his Mommy. It’s heartwarming and interesting to see Michael modeling what all teens want. As I’ve said before, I did not know if Michael would be like neuro typical peers in this way. In others, due to his neuro diverse brain and view of the world, things need to be explained and outlined in more detail. He will still need to be reminded what comes next in a schedule or verbally. He also has a hard time hearing no, like when he was a small child. I simply remind him that it’s ok to become angry and be frustrated, but accepting what we can’t change is all part of growing up and maturing, and all of this have to deal with it, neuro typical and neuro diverse alike.

I know the world is harder on him. It’s harder for him to get things. Reading faces, emotions is still a challenge. But I have to be careful how I phrase things. I’ve heard him say so many times, “I don’t have to do things like this, I have austim and adhd. I can’t listen the way you want because I have autism and adhd.” Though I’m glad I told him the reason things are challenging, in the last two years especially, I have turned this way of making excuses into a way to better understand himself and NOT use his different brain as an excuse to get his way in everything. I have told him I want you to express all emotions, but you can’t lose control and get upset because you don’t get your way. All of us, neuro typical and neuro diverse, have to handle emotions, use strategies to cope with stress, and learn from mistakes. As a nurse in the ER told Michael when he was hospitalized while in ketoacidosis and was slowly recovering,”work with me Michael.” I tell him that every day now. I can’t help you unless you work with me, and tell me what you need. He has started believing me and listening as he did to the nurse that day.

Exceptional Parents, how are you surviving your teen or any other challenging age with your Exceptional Child? As long as you are honest about what they and you can handle, you will be well on your way to helping them grow into healthy human beings. Until next time.

Be Careful What You Wish For-How To Handle Supporting And Redirecting Your Anxious Exceptional Child

Happy New Year! Well, the holidays have come and gone. There were ups and downs as usual, as in any exceptional family really. What stood out as highs-Michael’s increasing independence in handling his diabetes, trying to organize his time with audio visual, calls to friends, and video games which he put in his phone calendar and his 13th birthday party where he hung out with friends in typical teen fashion while the parents chit chatted. Our family visits went well too, and Michael had a play date in there as well.

He had also been steadily giving Dad and I personal and couple space. These steps made us feel proud of his progress. Lows were increasing anxiety and anger when things did not go as he planned, such as outings having to be postponed due to inclement weather, Dad or I not being able to give him a direct answer and asking for time to think on it, and finally his anxiety reaching a peak point that he needed to be around me all too much.

First off, let me say that I am so grateful that Michael can communicate with us and tell us how he feels. It has helped him overcome a lot of obstacles and I wouldn’t change having him be expressive for anything in the world. However, he will sometimes have a hard time letting go of things and need to talk them through. This is anxiety provoking for all of us. Before the holidays and even at the very beginning, he was actually still quite independent and giving me my personal space. I was worried though how he didn’t want to talk or interact much with me.

Be careful what you wish for parents. The Universe delivered BIG TIME mid to late holiday season when he had a hard time being alone, filling up space in his day, and would complain when I did my yoga, went to write, went out with a friend. It felt suffocating for me  while I was also worried about his anxiety. Old tools I used were not working. I helped Michael trust himself to find new tools that could work to calm him down so that when he and I took our time together, we could talk calmly.

How did I now keep myself calm and help Michael through his anxiety? Well, for starters I took lots of mini breaks in the day and gently reminded Michael how I needed them- my half hour of meditation and coffee in the morning before joining him at breakfast, my writing at certain times of the day, my yoga or taking a nature walk. Michael complained about all the breaks I was taking. I told him it was to help me stay calm and positive so I could enjoy my holiday happily and help him do the same .

The experience helped me learn how important it is to prepare older exceptional kids for the holidays like we do younger ones. The issues are different, yet some things remain the same. How to structure the down time while leaving some time for spontaneous activities, how to make sure kids are still sleeping and eating well which affects mood. This was doubly hard as with Michael’s diabetes no matter how much we controlled, his sugars were still through the roof high which do not help with anger and outbursts. I also learned how to enjoy the little moments that did go well and not let the stressful times spoil the day. Be realistic with what your child and family can handle and don’t push the envelope at family gatherings, play dates or other activities.

At the end of the holiday, in spite of the challenges, Michael reported that he had a good holiday. His return to school went well, and now we are all slowly getting back in routine.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle anxiety with your Exceptional Child? Remember, as long as you keep an open mind with your child, stay calm, ask for a break (or take it) when you need it, you will be able to show a good example of how to handle the ups and downs of family down time and help your child find tools that work for them. Until next time.