Author: joannegiacomini

Surviving and Thriving On Vacation With Your Exceptional Family

It is upon us once again, our family vacation. I am both looking forward to it and worrying a bit, in equal measures, though I have to say, the older Michael gets and the more experience I get handling things with him, the more comfortable I feel as we head out on family vacation. We also do a series of little day trips, followed recently by one overnight trip. It’s exciting and scary, but we manage. We also make sure wine is readily available, but I digress. 🙂 The thing I’ve learned is, to always expect the unexpected, both good and bad. I find that when Dad and I are flexible and go with Michael’s flow on family vacation, we all have a better time. It’s important not to have a concept of a perfect family vacation. That was me two years ago and back. I would always be disappointed when I or one of the boys did not act as I had hoped. Another thing is to try to prepare tools to help Michael as much as Dad and I can PRIOR to the trip. The rest has to be in God’s and the Universe’s hands. If it does not go well, we learn from it. If it does, we repeat it again. Forgiving ourselves and forgiving each other is the best way to make sure we can salvage what we can and/or still have a great time.

Michael loves the predictable day trips, but as he gets older, he also enjoys some novelty. He needs to feel in control with the navigation part. We learned that the hard way about a week ago going to a local fun center. Most of the stress occurred on the drive down, not in the park itself. We also need some down time outside to move in nature. There will be walks, swimming, and some outdoor picnics for sure. Finally, I have learned that I need to make sure I will have my personal space this holiday. That means time alone at night, even the five to ten minutes to meditate, read or write poetry or my fiction.  Self-care is something I am learning more about every day. Every little bit of “me time” helps me do better family time. My boys respect me more when I respect myself, and Michael especially benefits when both his Dad and his Mom are healthy and balanced all around.

This weekend will be about structuring the week on our trusty dry erase board, leaving room for changes and life can be unpredictable, making sure to get enough rest, (you need LOTS of energy on family vacays in our house), and just remembering to breathe and release the negative, and take in the positive whenever we can. I am also learning to trust that God and the Universe has our back. There is always a better way to see things and that is the way I am heading into this family vacation.

Exceptional Parents, how do you do on family vacations? Do you run for them with open arms or dread them or fear them? Remember, there will always be ups and downs, kind of like in life. The important thing is to choose to see the positive and the blessings your child shows you. By living in the moment each day, you’ll have way more fun with your child no matter what happens. Also, remember that when times are tough I always remember Nelson Mandela’s great words of wisdom: “I never lose. I either win or I learn.”  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 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.

Learning How To Be Present-What Our Exceptional Children’s Gifts Can Teach Us

bike riding 2.jpeg

Yesterday morning I broke with my usual morning routine of working until close to lunch time before Michael and I went out. We left a little earlier, as we were doing something that I had promised Michael we’d do all summer-a long bike ride that he would navigate. Every time we attempted it, either we had a visit to clock watch for or the weather was too warm or rainy. Yesterday was the perfect day as we had no set plans in the afternoon so could take as long as possible on the bike ride. You see, Michael planned the trip from beginning to end and we didn’t know how long it would take. I was sure it would be most of the morning though, as we were going far out. So off we went. It was magical, it was fun. The day was perfect. It was sunny with cloudy periods and the temperature was not too hot or too cold. Michael navigated us through and we had a great time.

What I also took from this bike ride and time spent with Michael is what I take from most off the things I do with Michael. This is how he is teaching me to be living more in the moment. I have to admit that this “working holiday” with Michael has been a little on the tough side for me. I decided to still continue working while he is home, albeit a little less than I do during the rest of the year, working mainly in the early am and later pm. My challenge yesterday, and the past two weeks with Michael at home, has been to not think about my work that needs to be done and fully enjoy being with my son. This is not always as easy as it sounds, but I have succeeded most of the time. Michael has helped me enjoy this part of my summer more than any other part as he is getting me out moving in the fresh air with swimming, biking and parks. Yesterday was hard for me to relinquish control over my time and work space at the beginning, but I rewarded by a great morning bike ride, some laughs and exercise. Living in the moment is the gift Michael is teaching me, as I show him how to do fun things too and be mindful, not anxious too.

Exceptional Parents, are you living “in the moment” with your Exceptional Child? Do you always worry back or ahead? If so, try and catch yourself. Breathe. Enjoy the time you have with them. They are only young once, and those days when they will want to
play” for all kids will pass as they move on to other things. Embrace the things they like to do and their passions. Really get into enjoying spending time with them. If you let them, your children will bring out the child in you. You will also help them practice life skills and possible future job skills. You never know. With your child leading you, life is full of possibilities. 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 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.

How My Anxiety Has Helped Me Parent My Anxious Exceptional Child

stress.jpeg

I have anxiety. I don’t have enough to meet the official criteria for a Anxiety Disorder Diagnosis, but I have lots of it. The overwhelming feelings I’ve had inside me that I first became aware of in my teen years, is anxiety. Over the years I’ve run from it, I’ve given in to it, I’ve hated it, I’ve learned to channel it into some of my best poetry and writing. I’ve also struggled with loving myself with it, and dare I say it, loving it. Yes, I love my anxiety. This doesn’t mean I’m happy I have it. It means that I embrace it as a part of me, and I am gentle with my body and mind when I experience a hard day because of it.

Yesterday was a bad day with my anxiety. This tends to happen around this time of the month due to my menstrual cycle. As I get older, PMS gets worse. It is also due to the increased stress of having less control of my time with Michael home. Don’t get me wrong. We structure everything, but I am someone that has always needed my space big time. Adjusting to motherhood and caring for a baby was both incredibly easy and difficult. I resonated on such a deep level with Michael’s need that I was absorbed into that at first. Not good. As time went on though, I also felt a little claustrophobic and overwhelmed desiring personal space. Those stories of Moms that didn’t mind waking up at night to feed their baby and watch them sleep peacefully. Not me. I would do my duty, and then feel so relieved when he finally went back to sleep. Michael woke up “on” between 5:30-6:00 am so I had my wonderful share of mother/baby bonding all day. I treasured naps. Both the short ones he took at first, followed by eventual longer ones. And as I came to terms with parenting Michael as a special needs child, I gradually learned to make peace with my own challenges-my perfectionism, my self-esteem issues, and my anxiety. It’s because of Michael I finally went to therapy to heal myself. I needed it for a long time. I needed to forgive myself and learn how to parent myself with love so that I could parent him better too.

nervous child.jpeg

A beautiful thing happened after I did therapy and in the years since. I’ve learned to resonate on a deeper level with Michael due to us both having anxiety. My anxiety has been getting easier to manage. I have my trusty tools to regulate my emotions- meditation, yoga, exercise, writing, and time alone as well as with family and friends. When I hear Michael expressing his fears, which now at ten are worse than even mine were as a an adult, I can commiserate. A friend once told me in a way it’s good I have a similar profile in this way to Michael. I get him like no one else does because I worry a lot too. Pretty much our whole family are worriers, so we all can sympathize with Michael. The thing is though, that when the primary caretaker gets it, it makes things easier for the child. This doesn’t mean things are always easy though. On days like yesterday, when my anxiety is high and Michael’s is, staying calm, positive and in the moment is so hard. By the end of the day, my energy is gone. I could not do my usual evening of work, turning in early to rest up for another day today. Still, I am gentle with myself. After dinner, I went outside and did an evening mediation which helped calm my mind and spirit, for the second leg of the day, bedtime.

Exceptional Parents, do you have anxiety? Are you at your wits’ end coping with your own anxiety and your child’s? First of all, give yourself a gentle hug. It’s not easy. Secondly, remember once you find tools that work for you, whatever those are, you will be that much more able to help your child find tools that work for them. Get help for yourself while you are getting help for your child. Reach out. You will see as you grow in helping yourself, you will get an inside view of how much more intense it must be for your child. This will equip you with the best tools to help them learn to regulate their emotions better. 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 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.

 

Your Growing Exceptional Child-How To Juggle Their Unique Developmental Milestones

 

unique child.jpeg

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.

navigating.jpeg

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 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

Trying New Things And Knowing Your Exceptional Parenting Limits

 

amusement park.jpegSo yesterday was a big day for our family. We took Michael to a local amusement park that is huge, noisy and could be overwhelming for a child with autism and sensory sensitivities. It was an autism sensitive experience, as there was lunch in a quiet part of the park along with an entry that afforded the child and parents quick entry to the rides without waiting. It was a huge success, but as any parent of an exceptional child can understand, extremely intense, exciting and exhausting. For the first time in a while, I fell asleep early last night from all the emotions I had experienced. I think as a family we did great overall. A few times I had to remind Dad to stay calm. He did the same for me. We interchangeably reminded Michael. Eventually, we settled in and had a nice time. A key moment was seeing other exceptional families we recognized and catching up. We met some new faces too. That was fun!

A big lesson I learned though, was at the end of this long and exciting day. Dad did all the driving so fell asleep on the couch after dinner. I cleaned up in the kitchen and supervised bedtime which had some testing moments. Dad was up by the end of bedtime, refreshed after a little nap, and after Michael finally went to bed all the emotions of the day coming pouring out in the way it usually does for me, a long hard cry. I had promised my Mom that I would give a quick check in call just to let her know we had all made it home safely. I asked my partner to make the call and he did. I delegated at a moment I was feeling vulnerable. This is new for me as a woman, Mom and person. I’ve always had a hard time with limits, with me, with family and friends, with my child. But now, I know when enough is enough. I felt good that I let out my emotions, went to bed early, and asked for help when I needed it. It was a small thing, but sometimes that makes all the difference in the world.

Exceptional Parents, how good are you at trying new experiences with your child and asking for help when you need a break? It’s a catch 22. You know stress will build in your family, but if you don’t try new things, no one grows. It’s important to be realistic with what your family is capable of doing and experiencing, and what you are ready for as a parent and person. Go at your own speed, and don’t berate yourself. You and your child will have success if you are realistic about what you can handle and you remember and show them, breaking down is ok. Asking for help is ok. As long as you have your stress management strategies close by, you’ll all be fine. 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 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

Storytelling and Bonding With Your Exceptional Child-How To Make It A Part Of Your Day

mom and child talking.jpeg

I am lucky that Michael is a talker and storyteller like his Mom. I know this. Some days, I wished he was more quiet, but then he has had that some experience with me, even once commenting to me, “Mommy, you talk a lot.” Humor aside, telling stories about our family and growing up is something I love to do and Michael loves to listen to. In our busy family life, when do we get a chance to do this? It is usually during meals. We will eat and talk. It is the way I grew up, and I wanted to keep this tradition going with Michael.  I used to worry when he wasn’t talking that I would never be able to do this. Then he learned to talk and was anxious to communicate with me about his things. Very gradually he learned to start participating in conversations. And now he asks me questions about his relatives, my childhood, and tries to get an understanding of my world too. It is great. I am also talking to him more about how I am learning more about his world. Since he knows he has autism, I have been slowly telling him how I have talked to and read stories and blogs about other people who have autism like him. I am learning more how his brain works, and how he sees the world. One such story was when I told him about a blog by a man who has autism where he talked about having stimming parties. Michael was so excited. We also talked at length yesterday about Temple Grandin, and how her Mom pushed her to excel even when others said she may not be able to. I told Michael that is why when he is afraid, I tell him to try. His autism is both a gift and a challenge, but it is not an excuse to escape learning life skills.

Having these conversations are obviously not possible with a young child at the very beginning, especially if they have behavior and communication issues. But as parents have tools in place to communicate with their child, either through language, PECS or a computer, they can definitively start to build a bond through stories. Talking to your child regardless when they are calm and alert, whether they are looking at you or able to respond back, is definitively something to build in when you are eating together, relaxing in a room together or out somewhere, like a park or even in the car.

I used to be one of the parents at the very beginning of my parenting journey that thought nonverbal kids did not understand what was being said about them. I used to say things about Michael when therapists were in the room with Michael there, and not realize that Michael was picking it all up. Many of my friends made this made this same mistake. Some of us also thought that kids who were not speaking yet did not understand. This is far from the truth. I have witnessed it in countless kids who are nonverbal. They understand everything. Sometimes the frustration is even greater as they cannot articulate to the adults around them what is bothering them. That is why talking, telling stories, pausing to give kids a chance to absorb what you are saying and gesture, smile or make a noise is still having a conversation. Your child will sense when they are being respected by you and others. I still use Michael’s sense of people as my sense of people. If Michael really does not like someone (and it is rare), I stay away from that person too. I know there is something off about them. He and all children like him are intuitive about that.

Exceptional Parents, are you scared to have storytelling time with your kid? Are you too busy doing therapy with them? Consider storytelling like therapy with your child. It is like playing with them and following their cues. This is just as important for their overall development as the therapy you are doing. Better yet it is meeting them halfway, so they can meet you halfway and bond with you. Try it. It’s easy to fit into your day and your child will sense your love and excitement coming through you. 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 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.

Venturing Into the Unknown- Making Lemonade Out Of Lemons

Every day our child teaches us something if we let them and are open to learning. This week is what I like to call “Mom Camp” Week. It is busier than ever, requires a lot of juggling of my schedule, can be a little bit on the stressful side, but in the end, is a lot of fun. It is fun because Michael is home with me and we get to do Mom/son activities together. I learn so much of where he is at, and well, we go on adventures together. An adventure with Michael can be as simple as the regular route we take to the park we are going to is blocked due to construction, and Michael verbally tells me a great alternate route to take to it. It can also be a fun pool game I make up on the spot due to Michael not being able to go underwater because of a sore lip. What started out as a problem becomes a very fun and silly afternoon swimming.

Another day we had a little problem that quickly escalated. The pool we went to (we pool hop as we are not members anywhere), did not have the snack bar open. Michael really wanted a snack and had to wait. At first, he was not happy.  He really wanted his snack. I told him he’d have to wait and take a chance. We’d paid and we came here to swim after all. He grumbled and complained. I reminded him of the story of the two sisters- one who complained all the time, and the other who made the best of things, that my mother had told me as a young girl. I also spoke to him about the expression that when you got lemons in life, you made lemonade. He laughed. He agreed to come into the pool, and wouldn’t you know it, at that moment the snack bar opened. Lesson learned for Mom too. I had been starting to get angry and lose my temper that he was being ungrateful. We both had an awakening to living in the moment and enjoying what came our way.

The important lesson here is that our Exceptional Kids, like all kids, can teach us how to become more open, more fun, more in the moment if we let them. I have also learned, and am still learning, how to practice more self-care for myself during the time Michael is home full-time with me. I used to try and do ten thousand things with him, get resentful that I was exhausted, and burn out really badly then bemoan the fact that he was not in summer camp. I realize now that unless he wanted that, there is no reason not to enjoy our time home together if it is structured, both with mother/son time, alone time for him and I, and down time. As Michael gets older he is learning the value of this, and it is also easier to go out in public with him. He understands that I have to get home to cook, clean, work. He is really good about the fact I work from home writing, editing and coaching. He understands that Mom’s job hours are flexible which makes for some juggling, but we all work around them. I also remind myself to juggle responsibly so I don’t neglect my work, my health and my family. There are times things slide more in one direction than another. No human being is perfect, but I right the balance and move on.

Exceptional Parents, how many moments do you miss of venturing into the unknown with your Exceptional Child? How many times are you scared to try it as you don’t know where it will lead? Are you afraid how your child will handle it? Are you afraid of how you will handle it? Don’t be afraid. Take a chance. Go on an adventure. Be open to whatever life throws your way. Make the best of a situation that is not going well and turn it around as best as you can. If not, chalk it down to an experience and a lesson learned. Remember, each time you try something new with your child,  do not be afraid to tune into their vibe and interest. It is an opportunity to bridge the gap between their world and yours. 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 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.

 

Genes And Environment- The Interesting Way Our Exceptional Child Is Us And Not Us

Lately I have really been watching Michael and  seeing how, like all children, he is really as much a product of his genes as of his environment. I see so many of my own qualities in him; his love of laughter, his creativity, as well his anxiety and the fact that he is hard on himself sometimes and does not like to ask for help. As I’ve blogged about before, these are less than desirable characteristics to lead a fulfilling life and have done a lot of work on myself to learn to be gentle and kind towards myself. I am now passing these traits on to Michael. It is not easy, especially as I know where he is coming from. I was there and living it until recently, and even now, well, let’s just say I know I will always have some anxiety in me. It is part of who I am and I am learning to co-exist with it and make it my friend. After all, when we are in touch with our anxiety we are close to what we need to spur us on to do better. It’s a cool way to grow and learn to do better. I am showing Michael how he can do that as well.

The other day when I was out with Michael at a park I observed him. He was talking a lot, having fun in the moment, and doing his best to try and perfect his soccer kick and tennis swing. I loved how he was in the moment and doing his best to improve his skill. I started talking to him about it, and digressed with one of my own stories. Michael’s response? “Mommy, you really talk a lot.” I almost laughed. It was not said as an insult. It was more of a comment and observation. I do, and it was a nice reminder that when I get overexcited or nervous I do tend to go on. Those who know me best, know this outright. I agreed with him and told him, it’s good to express ourselves, but that sometimes being quiet is good too. It was nice to get some life lessons in to him at the park that day. He reminded me of some of them too. How others see the truth in us as we do in them, and that no matter how much our children resemble us, they are also their own little people.

Exceptional Parents, in what way have you observed that your Exceptional Children are like you or someone in your family? In many cases, it is hard to know if it is genes or environment. Nevertheless, they can use it to grow themselves and to learn more about themselves. They are also not like you and are their own person as you are your own person. This is what makes us all unique and able to experience life in our own way. Children also can teach you how to adjust your parenting so that they can learn and grow in confidence and you can too as their parent. 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 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

“My Favorite Street Is Smiling”- Autism’s Unique Way of Viewing The World

Every once in awhile as mothers we have those moments. You know what I am talking about. All Moms have them. Your child does something so incredibly cute or thought provoking you say to yourself, I must remember this in some way, file this moment away to tell them the story at a future time. Exceptional Kids are no different in this way from neurotypical kids. They just have a different way of viewing the world and seeing things. This way, if we as their Exceptional Parents embrace it, can be the most beautiful thing in the world. At first though, when we are stuck at the stage of trying to make our child like everybody else, we are sad when they say what sounds to us like strange things. We notice this as just another one of their differences. But when we come to see our children as different in a good way, we embrace these kinds of things as being a part of who they are.

Michael, like many people with autism, loves objects. He always has and always will. Even human body parts fascinate him more than the whole person. Case in point, he used to love to squeeze my legs and now loves my neck saying it is warm like a spa and makes him relax. That is an interesting statement and very logical, to say the least. Well, as most people who know Michael know, he is VERY much into navigating and streets. He loves directions and he has one street in particular so much that he will look for places to go so that Dad and I have to take this street. No joke. A few weeks ago on one of our Saturday morning long walks, Michael asked me if he could hug his favorite street. I smiled and told him no, we could not hug a street, especially a busy one like this where cars are constantly on it. Yes, did I mention he loves super busy streets in general, particularly this boulevard? He nodded and no more was spoken of it. Then on this Saturday morning as we walked on the sidewalk of this very busy boulevard all of a sudden Michael spontaneously hugged a hydro electric  post and hugged it. It was the second best thing to hugging his favorite street since he could not hug the actual pavement. I told him that was sweet, but dangerous as it was a hydro pole. He did not want to get hurt. He said ok and we continued walking. He was more relaxed than before and had a smile on his face.

We continued walking this boulevard. Soon we would come to the street we would turn into to take us home. Michael all of a sudden blurted out, “Look Mommy, the boulevard is smiling!” I looked up confused, and saw what Michael meant. On one of the many hydro poles with wires hanging, this one ha the wires in a drop down half-circle or little hill format. It looked like a smile! Indeed, the boulevard was smiling! Incredible. This was something no other person would ever say and a totally different way of looking at a scene that never would have occurred to me. I smiled and thought, this is why autism is cool. It helps the rest of us see the world in a different way, and if we do not rush in to try and change how our child sees the world differently from us, we may learn something new. I agreed with Michael and told him how cool it was that he saw that. We finished the walk home.

Exceptional Parents, how many times have you tried to “fix” your Exceptional Child? Maybe it was something weird they said at a party, maybe it was them stimming in public and getting a weird look from people? Yes, there are social rules we all have to follow in society to get along and there will not always be people who are tolerant of differences. But where it counts and does not impact your child’s happiness and sense of self, let their uniqueness shine through and celebrate that. There are many challenges that come with autism that are real and frustrating for people with autism and their families. Help them with those of course. But don’t try to change who they are inside. How they see the world is such a beautiful and wonderful thing. Go along with them for the journey and you many learn something new about the world and yourself. 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 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.

Mom Camp Begins-How To Have As Stress-Free A Time With Your Exceptional Child As Possible

kids playing.jpeg

So today is the day. It is the day that Michael will be home with me alone for two straight weeks. It’s not a lot compared to some families whose children don’t go to camp, I know. Still, for us, for me, with an extremely active and anxious kid, keeping him busy during these two weeks is anything but relaxing, though I enjoy our time together. It’s become an art over the years, and I think we’re pretty much at the point now that Michael and I know each other well, he knows and understands I still need time in the day for my writing and editing jobs as well as for my personal health and housework, and time to take him places and truly enjoy spending time with him. It’s a balance for both of us and we have our ups and downs. I have found that having a system is our best bet. What is our system for having fun and staying sane at home during our mother/son bonding time? Here is the system that works for our family:

  1. Write It All Down: We have a dry erase board where we write out the activities we will be doing outdoors with rain substitutes too, of course. Michael now writes it out on our dry erase list and calendar and enjoys this planning phase.
  2. Have Rewards For Your Child: Yes, rewards for good listening; staying calm, using strategies. All of that works for Michael and I, and helps him stay motivated to behave for both of us.
  3. Repeat To Your Child You Are Happy They Are Home: I must confess there are times I feel less than enthusiastic about this. Hey, I’m human and need my space, but as he has gotten older, he is learning how to make his own fun at home and it is fun playing sports with him, swimming with him, and going out with him. I build up excitement about his time home with me by talking about the cool things we will do and trying to put some variety into the day. He loves that.
  4. Schedule Play Dates With Other Kids If You Can: This is hard as everyone has a different summer schedule, but try and schedule in a few play dates with friends to spice things up if possible. We will be doing one this week and others in two weeks hopefully, near the tail end of our family vacation.
  5. Have Fun Home Time Built-In Or Outside-Home Time: Both of these are harder if your kid is a homebody who does not want to go out or a jet-setter who never wants to stay home. Parents have their work cut out for them, but slowly they can introduce a half day spent home or out to get their child used to something different.

Most kids respond well to some sort of structure. As long as there is some flexibility in activities, a parent who knows her child well will usually not go wrong. As long as your child is getting some fresh air, exercise as well as time at home to chill out, you and they are off to a good start on your time alone together.

Exceptional Parents, how do you survive times in the summer when the kids are with you all day for a fixed period of time?  What tips have you offered friends? The thing is there is not one system that works perfectly for every child. What I have used is a general one that works for most exceptional kids, but as your child’s parent you know them best and know what will keep them stimulated, happy and as relaxed as possible. It’s also important that you as Mom and Dad, find time to recharge your parental batteries, especially when they are home. Whether it’s squeezing in a workout, taking time for pleasure reading or talking to and seeing other adults when your child is with another adult, doing this will keep your batteries charged and you calm ready to handle anything. So, trust in balance for you and your child.  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 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