Author: joannegiacomini

Who is This Child? How To Cope When Exceptional Children Reach Puberty

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I could not believe the words my eleven year old said. “Mommy, the kids say I smell, and I noticed  hair growing down there.” Of course, I had suspected as much from his behavior, taste in music, and interest in his peer group. But nothing had quite prepared me for my exceptional child hitting puberty this early! Friends have shared with me about their kids’ bodily changes as well as crushes on girls, but I naively thought, I have another year or two. I even joked with another friend, oh please, with challenging behaviors, diabetes, autism, and ADHD my hair will go white and I will completely lose it if puberty strikes now. Well, the joke is on me folks. Puberty is here and is intensifying. The weird thing is, my kid both needs and rejects me. Friends are important in the day, but at bedtime, Mom tuck me in, hug me, talk to me.  Hmm. I remember this from thirty some odd years ago, when I did the same with my parents. I was close to them, but so desperately trying to flee from their conventions. And I was a so-called “good girl.” 🙂

It is both exciting and terrifying to see Michael entering puberty so early. At least it feels early for me. I guess the next thing will be interest in girls, his body, or both. Oh boy. I’ll leave that one to Dad. 🙂 Though I am up for any honest discussion about love, intimacy and spirituality.  I have the benefit of several friends whose sons have entered this phase already sharing their knowledge with me, so I know we can laugh and talk about it. I am also glad that Michael is going through this phase as any child would. I just need to have the tools ready to help him address his questions and feel at ease. Just like a neuro typical child, not every child with autism experiences puberty in the same way. As parents, we need to respect that, be there for them, and give them room to breathe and be who they are. It is challenging for us as parents not to panic. I am glad we have medicinal and behavioral strategies in place to help Michael reach  his potential.

Michael also coaches us daily in what he needs to thrive- parents who are adventure seekers, open to trying new things, and accepting of him, difficulties and all. Dad and I are all those things. We struggle sometimes to understand who is this child? The child  that once listened to us the majority of the time with little incentive or rewards, now requires immense promise of rewards to comply. The child that once wanted us to play with him all the time and BE with him, now wants us there with him, but as an ends to a means. He is scared, help him. He needs to go somewhere, drive him. It is both comforting and disconcerting. He is growing up, but needs to learn strategies to manage, stress, anxiety and anger. Dad and I are working hard with his team to help him learn to handle all the changes happening. Dad and I are also working to handle our own emotions, take care of ourselves individually and as a couple, and help those around us. None of this is easy, but is important and so worth it in the end.

Exceptional Parents, have your Exceptional Children hit puberty yet? If they have, how are you handling it? If they have not, how do you think you will handle it? Remember, if you take care of yourself by staying calm, collected and in control, you will be setting the best example for your child. If they have, pace yourself. As long as you are able to keep your sense of humor and sympathy for the hard road ahead for them, (and you as their guides), you will continue to be their best cheerleader and advocate, teaching them to care for themselves as you care for yourself. 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, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

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Changing Your Mindset In Order To Understand Your Exceptional Child

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On days like today when I can literally see Michael’s brain in action with all his challenges and strengths, I thank God that I have amassed the knowledge I have in learning what I do know about his differences, and that I am still keeping an open mind learning about his other challenges. I also have continued to learn from all the different people on our team that help Michael be all he can be, particularly the new people on our team now.

It is so important that we as parents remember, even at their most challenging, our kids are not trying to be difficult. They see the world differently, and don’t always know what is right and wrong. And even when they do, most of the time self-regulation is so challenging. That is why it is important to help them find the best combination of therapy, stimulation at home, and educational environment that brings out their best. It is also important that we keep learning as their parents about patience with them and patience with ourselves. We can never forget that they will be as successful as they can with our encouragement.

There are days when I just shake my head at how could my kid not get that. He is so smart. Other days it is obvious why he is struggling and my heart breaks for him. The trick is reconciling those two selves and know that at any given time your child is doing their best to cope. This does not mean you let them get away with negative behavior, but you remember that unless they have positive reinforcement, good tools in place, and unconditional love from you, they will struggle even more. As parents, we need to remember that we all learn differently, and to respect our child’s own form of learning, exceptional or not. We also need to adjust our ways of thinking to the way they see the world. This will help us see more of what they need, and less of what they don’t.

Exceptional Parents, do you truly understand your Exceptional Child’s different brain? If not, it’s alright. It’s never too late to join them in how they see the world, whether by reading articles, talking to therapists, other parents, but most importantly, by watching what interests and lights your child up. This is the key to getting in to helping them with the right combination of initiatives to be all they can be. 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, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

Riding The Highs And Lows Of Exceptional Parenthood

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My life is not boring. This is my opening joke to most people I meet if  I hear them complain they are bored and that life is not exciting. I will add for effect, “Oh my life is exciting. I never know what curve ball my son is going to throw at me next.” Sometimes this is meant to be funny, sometimes not. Regardless, in all moments I love Michael very much. I also remind myself that life is not boring for him and is exciting, sometimes overly exciting. His nervous system can go into warp speed sometimes, and at other times he regulates well. It makes for quite the family life.

Today was a calm morning, afternoon and I was told evening. I was out at my weekly writing workshop, and though Michael was up waiting for me when I came home, he did reasonably well with Dad. I was happy to hear this. Every victory is celebrated, particularly as there has been lots of tension between the two lately. Michael also realized today when his energy and silliness was through the roof, that rather than lose his reward, he would self-regulate by going out in the yard and playing soccer. I was so proud he recognized what he had to do. There was also a healthy use of deep breathing to handle anger when he got upset. This is excellent as there have been other days when things did not go well and self-regulation only happened AFTER an aggressive act.

Dad and I are also learning to use our strategies to handle our highs and lows living as exceptional parents. My writing workshops, workouts,  and outings with friends are my respites and ways to recharge so that I can keep my anger, fear and frustration in check. These things help me ride out the tough moments as a Mom when I want to run for the hills and not look back. I am realizing how important self-care is every day, as well as having a sense of humor, especially when times are rough. It does not mean laughing at your child or situation, but it means seeing the joy in the beautiful moments when they use their strategies, open up about their feelings, hug you, and share their dreams. It also means enjoying the beauty of a sunrise, the quiet pitter patter of rain falling, the purring cat at your feet, or a wonderful song on the radio.

Some days it is all too much. I worry, am I doing enough as Michael’s Mom to give him opportunities to socialize, learn, laugh, move? What therapies does he really need and which ones can we wait on? Finally I worry, will I make it on this rocky road to see him to adulthood and not lose my sense of humor, sense of self, and also importantly, my belief in what he is capable of? Some days are so hard. One day many many years ago when Michael first started having aggressive behaviors and the tools that worked did not work any longer, I shared with my mother how frustrated and scared I was.  I said, “I can’t do this anymore. He needs another mother.” She sympathized, but reminded me he was my son and I could not stop fighting for him. I realized she had misunderstood my worry. I then clarified. I was scared I was the wrong Mom for Michael. I told her he needed a Mom who was patient, calm, strong. I was anxious. I lost my temper and patience. She said that every Mom got angry, lost patience and was anxious. She said I was strong, stronger than I knew. I had believe in me and my love for him. She was right. I prayed many times to God then, and since then, to give me the strength to continue fighting the good fight. I also pray now that I continue to learn ways to take care of me so that I can remain strong, positive and tell Michael that I will always be there for him, no matter what.

So I’ve realized that the way to survive the tough days and coast through the easy ones are the same. Take care of myself by doing the things that fill me with joy. This will help me encourage Michael to find the things that fill him with joy. He has lost so much happiness over the course of the last two years. Puberty, Type 1 Diabetes and more complex anxieties and attention issues have caused his self-esteem to plummet. He is questioning his religious beliefs, friendships and his father’s and my love. We are telling him daily that he is smart, loved, and that we all believe in him. Seeing us, his parents, doing the things that we love, is helping him find the road back to doing the things he used to love and finding new loves.

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Even on the days when harsh words and actions occur, I can honestly say to myself Michael’s potential for greatness is there and is growing. It is painful that he could lose his future if troublesome behaviors are not under control. Dad and I worry if we are doing enough to get him back on the right track. Judging by the progression that is happening though, I think he and we are well on our way to living life a little easier among the chaos of exceptional family life.

Exceptional Parents, how do you ride out the highs and lows of your exceptional family life? Just remember, self-care for you goes a long way to giving you strength to be there for your child in every way. Also, even at their most difficult, always see the child behind the behavior. That is who is trying to come out and needs your help to grapple with fear, anger and uncertainty. 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, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

How Being Patient With Your Child Starts With Being Patient With Yourself

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It was a mixed bag of a weekend. Lots of anxiety, hyperactivity with a few doses of aggression and finishing off with amazing feats. Michael cooking more amazing dishes. Michael rocking swimming class. Michael chatting on a the phone with a friend sounding like a typical 11 year old- calm, in control, friendly, caring. Wow! It made me feel overwhelmed, grateful and stressed all at once. Then I had to face the fact. How patient was I being with Michael’s moods? How patient was I being with my own? When was the last time I exercised? When was the last time I went for a walk and took real solid alone time, in a bath, to read, or to just be? Yes, I meditate. I write. I do take baths from time to time. But just being patient when I am unraveling is something that I am having a hard time with. And unraveling with my child has been something that has been happening a lot to me. I hold it together with everyone else. I hold it together everywhere else. But like Michael, ironically I push down my emotions sometimes I think. I push down my Mom fears of not doing enough to help control his blood sugars, not doing enough to enhance his love of music and sports, not doing enough therapy. I feel like I am failing him when he is aggressive, anxious and distant. I know deep down it is not me, but Mommy guilt gets me every time. I thought I had her beat, but she is there lurking, waiting to claim me. I have been blowing up so much at Michael lately. Yes, he has been pushing my buttons to get me angry, but I have long ago forgotten to go to my “happy place,” as a friend of mine coined it. I am working hard to get back there.

Today I did a Zumba workout. The other day I went out to a cafe to work on my fiction novel. I am getting back to self-love, self-care, and working my way back to being patient with me, with my process. After all, if you can’t love yourself, how can you love anyone else truly, even your child? Yes, we love our children all of us, but unless we are learning to be patient with our own anger, anxieties and fears, we will always have a hard time guiding our children. Once again, I found myself remembering the words “this is happening for you, not to you.” I realized that the pain and anguish I am suffering through watching Michael suffer and stress, is reminding me to take care of me and grow strong, as I see Michael growing stronger by battling his demons. He is one incredible kid. As his psychiatrist reminded us, how can we expect him to control himself if we lose it? So true. And though losing it happens only after A LOT of stress, I am starting to see that if I am patient and loving with myself from the beginning, I will be able to handle Michael’s stress a lot better too. No more Mommy guilt for this Mom! I am doing the best that I can for both of us to move forward and be happy and healthy.

Exceptional Parents, how patient are you with your Exceptional Child? It usually is directly related to how patient you are with yourself and your weaknesses. Be gentle with yourselves Moms and Dads. You are fragile just like your child. You are scared for them, yet want to equip them for the world. You are tired, resourceful, resentful and advocates all in one. There is no one who loves your child more nor who ever will than you. So the first gift you can give your child is being patient with yourself. Once you have achieved that, be patient with them.  Then you can follow their lead in letting them show you the life they want to live and is possible. At this point, the two of you will be guiding each other. 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, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

 

When Exceptional Couples Fight- What NOT To Say

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Marriage is hard work. Marriage with an Exceptional Child or Children is that much harder. Couples will disagree at times and fight about parenting decisions, but the worst thing to do is fight in front of your child. I am guilty of this as I feel like a referee sometimes between Michael and his Dad when they fight. I don’t want to be the peacekeeper between them. I want them to work it out, and I am in the process of learning new ways to extract myself from this position. Dad is more patient than I am in some ways, but blows his top in others. Michael does not benefit from either one of these styles, and we are trying to adjust our parenting styles and meet halfway. We also want to make our marriage grow and become stronger.

Friday nights seem to be the toughest. Everyone is tired after a long week, and one little change or extension in the bedtime routine or sometimes just Michael’s total need to control everything and the evening takes on a stressful turn.  What can parents do? The question then becomes what NOT to do and you’ll know what to do. Here are some suggestions of what NOT to do when disagreeing about parenting decisions:

  1. Don’t fight in front of the kids: Yes, we all know this, but sometimes those of us who are a little hot headed will blow up. Guilty as charged. Ask for forgiveness, check in to see if you are following better self-care routines, (could use improvement in my case), and sometimes see if you can go for single counselling.
  2. Don’t say “I told you so”: So many of us have done this either out loud or by our actions. It’s not helpful. If you make a mistake, own it and apologize when the time is right. If your partner does, give them the same courtesy.
  3. Don’t make your partner feel worse: It is tempting to say things like “you are never there for me”, “I feel so alone,” “you are not the only one with problems,” but this will only create more animosity. Start with being honest with your partner when you have both calmed down. That means “I’m sorry,” followed by an “I love you,” then “Do you need a parenting break?” “How can I help?” We all make mistakes.  Both partners need to do this.  And remember, we all make mistakes. It’s if you keep making the same ones that you need to ask yourself where you are going wrong.
  4. Don’t sacrifice personal time: One thing I used to do when there was friction between Dad and Michael, me and Michael or me and Dad was NOT take time for me. After all, I did not deserve it OR would feel bad that my boys would fall apart without me there. Now, I know better. Just like your job can manage without you for a day, so can your family. Always take time to recharge your batteries.
  5. Don’t think therapy can’t help: So many of us discount therapy thinking it cannot help us individually or in our relationships, but therapy is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your partner. I have gone for therapy in the past and if I need to go again for me I will not hesitate. I also think couples therapy is wonderful as long as the two people have done their individual homework and can move forward from there.

Exceptional Parents, how many of you have your NOT DO”s to share with the rest of the Exceptional Parenting Community? What have you learned and what are you still learning? In the end, don’t be afraid to learn from your mistakes and move forward as an individual first, then as a couple. Your child will look to the two of you as a united front if you do this. This will help them with their confidence as well, and the whole family will become happier and healthier. 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, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

 

 

 

Being in the Hot Seat As Exceptional Families

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Have you ever had a parenting moment when you felt so many emotions at once- frustration, tiredness, sadness and embarrassment? Well, I did tonight. It was one of those nights that I was worried about altering Michael’s schedule slightly, but still did. I knew that altering the schedule along with blood sugar that was still on the high side with his diabetes, may make for a difficult evening, but I figured I was up to it. I was, but only to a certain extent. Though I held it together relatively well, at one point I became so angry that Michael was not listening and being disruptive, that I almost abandoned ship. I stopped myself though, and realized that though Michael was to blame for his actions, I was also responsible for not keeping to the usual routine. As well, I was responsible for not remembering Michael’s challenges in listening, self-regulating and being responsible for controlling his physical and emotional reactions to people and events around him.

You see, part of the “different brain” our kids have makes it harder to process information, feelings, and control reactions. When they are in the “hot seat” it is so much harder to control themselves.  I of course don’t let Michael get away with his Autism, ADHD and diabetes as excuses for losing control and I have told him as much. In fact, earlier today I reminded him that though I know it is hard for him to control his temper sometimes and Dad and I know this due to his challenges (our family has no secrets), it does not mean he gets a free pass in not being disruptive or aggressive. However, even though I know this, sometimes in the heat of the moment I forget this. I am in the “hot seat” as the parent of a child who is impulsive, anxious and rigid. I feel judged, even if it is only by me. I also feel that his poor dealing with his feelings is due to my badly structuring  the day or evening. I know this is not fully the case, but it still happens from time to time when I am tired and not giving myself enough time to regenerate my batteries.

I am getting better at seeing myself for who I truly am as a Mom though- patient, loving, forgiving, but someone that sometimes feels burned out so will have some meltdowns herself. I have learned that if I am feeling that way more days of the week than not, it is time to get out alone pronto. Sometimes for a walk, a drive or even alone in the house with a book.  I am not that way as a coach. There I am Joanne-calm, in control, knowing what to do next in most cases, and when in doubt, pausing and staying calm to figure it out. It is easier without the blood, emotions, and genes mixed in there to make you feel, what the heck pattern did I do to make this worse. When parents and kids are in the ‘hot seat’ we get so attached to our own feelings of anger, exhaustion and frustration, that we are not able to see our child’s or they their parent’s viewpoint. Unless we stop to give ourselves credit for what we are doing right and get ourselves the necessary support for the things we are doing wrong or need help with, we will remain stuck and chances are, so will our child. Living life as an Exceptional Family is exhausting for all concerned, but with the right perspective, attitude and adjustment, all members will come out winners in the end.

Exceptional Parents, how do you juggle being in “the hot seat?” How do you see your child when they are in “the hot seat?” Remember, it is human to make mistakes, both for you and for your child. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. Learn from the errors by letting in others that have life experience and have gone down this path before. You and your child will be the better for it. 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, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

How An Exceptional Parent’s Calm Can Bring Surprises And Self-Regulation In Their Exceptional Child

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Today was one of those days that started off well this morning, and though there were some bumps in the road this evening, Michael rebounded so well. Why? Well, for one thing he was motivated to get a reward of extra IPAD time, for another his blood sugar finally started coming down (thank God), and for a third, not to toot my own horn, but I stayed calm. Yes, something as simple as not losing my cool when Michael reacted with some challenging behaviors when his sugar was at its highest, made a HUGE difference. At first he and Dad were not getting along, but then Dad adapted this same motto. He stayed calm too, went with the flow, and the evening took a turn for the better.

What did we both learn? It is our responsibility as parents to share our calm demeanor with our children even at moments when things are less than ideal. I also used today to talk to Michael about old strategies we needed to bring back in to help him feel less anxious and stressed, like a daily schedule and daily points to earn rewards, as well as new changes which will be helping him focus better and not be as stressed- like a higher dose of his current medication alongside with some new activities and strategies which we will try. It’s also a bit of a trial and error, as some things will work with your child, some will not. Every child is different, just as every adult is, and we all need to learn to be a little more flexible and allow wiggle room and learning.

Exceptional Parents, when you’ve had a good day with your child, has it been when you’ve been calm or chaotic? I think the answer is obvious. When we feel together and confident in ourselves, that is when our kids naturally feel that calm emanating off us and we are able to put our best parenting foot forward. We also are modeling grace under pressure which is challenging for our exceptional kids, but not impossible. They just need to know you are in their corner with tools, support, pride and love. So today, remember no matter what, show your child the calm in the chaos. In time, they also will be able to emulate this. 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, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

 

Differently Wired Brains and Exceptional Parenting Patience- This Mom’s Lesson in Humility Today

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I love our child psychiatrist as does Michael.  I say this not just for the reason that she is kind, compassionate and has a sense of humor, but also because she really has a way of helping parents see their child as they first did when their child was diagnosed, that is, their child is differently wired not ill. I know this deep down in my bones, but sometimes because Michael looks like other kids, has the same desires as other kids and is becoming more and more of a teenager every day, I forget even now. He is not wired like other neuro typical kids, that is, his brain is not wired like theirs. It is not less or greater than, it is different as theirs is from his. This means, signals get crossed when he is communicating to us and us to him. It also means he perceives stress on a whole other level, and that we, as his parents, need to stay as calm as we can as we ride out his storms and guide him when he is doing well.

I fail to stay calm as much as I’d like. I’m getting there day by day, and now when I lose it,  (less often thank goodness), I don’t beat myself up that I’m a failure like I used to years ago. I repeat my favorite mantra, “I’m a good Mom having a bad day.” AND I also vow to model patience, calm support for Michael. I was reminded  today of how doubly destructive it is when exceptional parents yell at their child when the child is challenging. We had a rough morning at our home.  All it does is show them that yelling and reacting gets things moving, the opposite of what we want to teach.

 

It was humbling to share today that I have lost patience with Michael and can identify my triggers while Dad admitted the same, and hearing that we need to remember that while we have a hard time controlling our anger like a lot of people do, imagine how much more difficult it is for Michael to control his? It also helped me see all Michael’s victories so far in 2018-how far he has come since the fall in handling his emotions and using strategies, how amazing he is being with handling his diabetes, taking new medicine for aggression, as well as working with a new therapy team- an educator and child psychiatrist, as well as his team at school.

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Exceptional Parents, are you losing your cool with your Exceptional Child when they have challenging days? Remember, it is normal to get upset. Our kids know exactly how to hit us right in gut for that reaction when they are losing control themselves. The thing is if we model a calm approach to a tantrum or an aggressive act by showing no tolerance yet no overly angry or annoyed reaction, we are showing our child how to self-regulate in the best way possible. It’s also important for us as parents to find tools to help ourselves stay calm  if we start losing it frequently- meditation, yoga, exercise,  warm baths or massages, talking to friends, can also be great stress releases. Also, as hard as it is, make sure to try and carve out alone time for you to check in how you are feeling. If you are not calm, do the things that can help you stay calm. And if you start losing it with your child, take a deep breath and step back into a happy place in your mind or into another room if you can. Just remember, you are their model for better or worse. They need to know you love them no matter what. 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, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

 

Being An Exceptional Detective When Navigating Your Exceptional Child’s Anxiety

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Yesterday was one of those days that had so many emotional turns that if I wasn’t used to it by now, I would have had a massive headache and vertigo by the end. What I kept thinking, even at my most frustrating moments, was that if I was feeling angry and confused, what was going on in Michael’s head. He’s living in a body and mind that has a hard time sequencing, managing stress, and filtering out so much stimuli in our world. Most days he does amazing, and the days he doesn’t, he needs our support more than ever.  Michael has his emotional ups and downs lately where one stressful event builds, and then it is hard for him to calm down enough to move forward. There usually ends up being a minor or moderate explosion. The major ones have been few and far between, thank goodness. It is hard to know what is causing it. There are so many reasons our kids explode. The thing is, as parents we need to be able to hold it together and then play a little detective and figure out the why behind it. It’s also important to have a good balance between disciplining a child and letting them have choice. Dad and I are navigating this line. Some days are smoother than others, but we are getting there.

What occurred to me yesterday was that I was getting good at striking that balance, but that sometimes it came at a cost to me personally. I could feel my battery burning out by the end of the day. I realized I could have taken more mini breaks to myself to recharge. I held it together, but saw moments when I almost lost it myself. Fortunately I did not, but I took the lessons away- playing detective means being calm, staying in the moment, and not taking what your child says personally. THAT is hard. When they are pushing your buttons, deliberately or not, it is because they are out of control and their sensory system is in overload. They will say and do things that are harsh, and you cannot take it to heart. I know because I did this when Michael’s first got aggressive. I cried myself to sleep some nights, until I realized that I had to stay calm when he was losing it, find tools to help him, and no matter how hard the things he said or did were, to see it as a behavior, not who my child really is. He was asking for help when he was at the end of his rope. I had to find a way to get myself in the frame of mind to see what he needed most and then assemble a team to help Michael and us. We now have our team and what a relief that. At the head of the team is Michael, Dad and I who decide what are the best tools that work for Michael and which we can discard from the outset.

Exceptional Parents, are you a good detective at figuring out what your child needs? If not, don’t worry. It will come with time, patience and practice. In the meantime, make sure you prioritize staying calm, and are alert to any sudden changes in your child. You will gradually see patterns in what makes them upset or calm. Write these down and keep a record of toys, games, strategies that work, and when you do, you’ll be on your way to navigating your child’s anxiety successfully. 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, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

 

5 Ways To Understand Anger From Your Exceptional Child’s Viewpoint

angry child

So we had a challenging evening at our house.  The last two nights have been challenging. Michael’s anger and aggression have been increasing gradually over the course of the week, and Dad and I have had to put on our detective hats and figure out why. Is he unhappy at school? Is it his higher than normal blood sugars? I have seen with Type 1 Diabetes that high blood sugars increase the probability of aggression.or is it the medication he is on for aggression? Ironically, it like other medications, can sometimes make aggression worse. Yet, I have never seen the outbursts be shorter and with less intensity than before. So what gives? We are still trying to piece together the slow progression of anger and see how to proceed. Then again, Michael has always gotten weird in the spring. It’s like his body goes through its own version of spring fever and needs a lot more physical activities as his sensory system goes out of whack.  Mine does too, mind you, though in a different way. March and April trigger sad feelings when it is cold and rainy. I am a bit at a loss now, but am digging for answers. In the past, I have used many different avenues to get my answers, and they have usually proved successful. I will once again be using those and want to share these tips with all of you:

  1. Observe your child closely: This one is obvious, but close observation to see when and where aggression takes place (and with whom) will explain a lot.
  2. Talk to your child: If the child is verbal this is much easier for obvious reasons, but even if the child is using another type of communication method try and get them when they have calmed down to tell you what they were feeling and why. I have learned more this way about how to help Michael than in any other way. Things we may not even think of could be triggering them. Let them tell you!
  3. Look for environmental triggers: Is it too cold, too hot, too bright for your child? Did they have a fight with a friend? Where do they feel safe letting off steam? For some kids it’s anywhere, for others it’s at home or school.
  4. Talk to other parents who have walked the road you are walking: So many kids on the spectrum and their parents have to handle aggression and anger. Speak to parents who have been down this road to see what you can learn. Their lessons are invaluable.
  5. Talk to other individuals with autism or read their blogs/articles: This is one area that no one told me to consult in the past, but now I am realizing is a very important ingredient in understanding my child. Talking to, reading books and articles by other autistic adults is the ultimate eye opener for a parent of a young autistic child. They have walked your child’s path way before there was the help that is out there now, and can provide great insight into how your child’s mind works. I have come a long way in understanding Michael’s mind, but there is no way I could get him as much as I do were it not for Temple Grandin, Stephen Shore, and other amazing autistic adults who have shared their experience with the world and opened non autistic people’s eyes to how the mind of autism works. When I get stuck, I go to their blogs, their books, and hope to have the opportunity to speak to them one day.

mom and son

Exceptional Parents, what strategies have you used to understand where your children are coming from? It’s ok if you get stuck, frustrated, and upset. We all do, myself included. I have to remember to use my strategies for anger and anxiety just as Michael does and when I mess up, I fess up to him and myself.  The important thing to remember is to always be on the lookout for what could be triggering your child- health issues, change in family situation or school, and be gentle with them and yourself. Depending on where you find blocks, ask around in your parenting community for good speech, occupational, play, music/art, or behavior therapists. They can also help you unlock your child’s problem as well.  In the end though, always go with your parenting gut on all things about your child. It will never steer you wrong. And remember, never ever give up on your child. They will become as great as encourage them to be. 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, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com