Category: autism awareness

It Hurts Like Hell-How To Help Your Child Get Through Exceptional Puberty

“I don’t want to go out places Mommy. People look at me weird when I am rocking or stimming. And I don’t want them seeing me check my blood sugar. I don’t want to explain that I’m diabetic.  I’m embarrassed.”
“They’re probably wondering what you are doing. You know you can tell them you are autistic and that rocking or stimming relaxes you.  Your ADHD brain also means you have a lot of energy.  And there is no shame in having Type 1 Diabetes. It’s a medical condition and lots of kids have it.”

“Do I have to tell them?”
“No, of course not. It’s your choice. Just remember, be proud of who you are because you are pretty amazing.”

This was one of our easier conversations now that Michael is a tween in puberty.  Puberty is not easy, but when you have autism, ADHD and Type 1 Diabetes you are riding quite a roller coaster of emotions, as are your family. My heart breaks for Michael at these moments. He does not like going out to stores unless he has no choice, as he has become super self conscious about who he is. Thankfully he still goes on  his solo walks and bike rides. He likes the independence, but being out in public is stressful as he learns to handle how different he is from a lot of people. Dad and I are gently encouraging him to be himself, work though the anxiety with strategies, and I hope that with time, his social fears will go down. We are always looking for new ways to help him tackle his fears.

On the other side, we have moments when he pushes us away and does not want to talk. During those moments, we respect his boundaries reminding him that we are close by when he wants to talk. Sometimes he does this politely, other times he can be rude about it. We have had talks about language, respecting our boundaries, and his responsibilities as he is getting older. We have the hyper days and the angry days. We have the anxious days. All in all, it’s challenging, and when I feel that it’s becoming too much, I take five in my corner, meditate and do some yoga, and then remember how hard these developing years are for all children. It just ends up being more challenging, like so many other things, for our exceptional kids.

I remind myself that I am doing the best that I can to be there emotionally, physically and spiritually for my child. I remind myself that I don’t have to be perfect, just show him and help him feel that is loved always, even when he messes up. I remind myself that this too shall pass. A lot of parents with older exceptional kids have shared that the early teen years are the hardest as our kids find out who they are and where they are going. Finally, I look at the list of positives our Educator suggested we make of all the amazing things Michael has accomplished even with the challenging moments still popping up. She had said it would serve as a positive reminder for Michael as well as Dad and I over how far he has come with independence, skill acquisition, and  show us all that he will get through the challenges of adolescence too. She was right. I look to that list. We all do.

Exceptional Parents, how easy or hard do you find your Exceptional Child’s growing up milestones? Whether they are sailing through these stages or struggling, I think as long as we continue to persevere alongside them with a loving ear, new strategies and tools to use, and lots of compassion for them and ourselves, we’re on our way to growing together. Until next time.

Understanding Your Child’s Stim As Necessary Healthy Self-Regulation

It has taken me a long time to make peace with Michael’s stimming. I finally did about three years ago. Like many parents who were told their child was autistic, after being told what we had to do to “fix” it, the next thing was how to normalize their outside behavior, ie. stimming in order to fit in better in society.  As I came to understand that autism is not something to be fixed, my child is not broken but beautiful in another way,  I also began to see that though stimming made me nervous and maybe some other neuro typical people nervous around us due to not understanding it, this was something necessary for autistic people like Michael to do and they each had their own unique way to do it. Neuro typical people stim too, by the way. We just don’t think of it as stimming as it is no ingrained in our popular culture. Playing with hair, bouncing a leg up and down under the table, flicking a pen open and closed are just some examples. Autistic people’s stims though involve things that are unusual for many neuro typical people to understand; rocking, clapping repeatedly, vocalizing with certain words, spinning. The thing is though, that for them it is a way to regulate in a way that calms their body and mind. A lot of stimming is usually done when they are excited or overwhelmed in a busy environment. It’s necessary for their mental health to do this and we all need to understand this.

Some children with autism are sensory seeking like Michael. He LOVES to do long walks in traffic then sit down and watch the cars going by while rocking. Sometimes he will stand and do it. He also loves to rock and clap to his favorite music. I have learned over the years to let him stim whenever he needed to as I see how this has helped him de-compress. Sometimes he tunes me out as I would tune people out during a walk or drive, but usually he can focus just fine on what I am saying. I’ve had to overcome my fear over the years that Michael’s stimming would get him noticed as being different, and then my next questions was, “why is that a bad thing?” The answer back was because I did not want him laughed at or thought of as weird. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized what is beautiful about Michael IS his difference, his difference in how he relates to the world, how he takes information in and talks about it. His autism is part of who he is, and I don’t want him fitting himself into a box he is not meant to be in. I want him being proud to be autistic, proud of how his brain works. The world also needs to start recognizing that difference is not to be feared. It is to be celebrated.

I realized that the issues around stimming were my issues. As I got over them, I now embrace Michael’s stimming and all autistic stimming as something I may not always understand, but should I be privileged enough, maybe one day it will be explained to me by an autistic person why they stim in a particular way. I’ve already had some conversations with Michael about this. I loved his answers. And the first time I heard about adult autistic stim parties and told Michael about it, I remember how his face lit up and he said, “Wow. A party where people with autism get together to stim. Cool.” I wanted him to know that when the world gets too much for him, there are people who think like him and have fun by stimming for as long as they need to.

Exceptional Parents, where are you on your journey towards understanding your autistic child’s stimming? It’s not an easy road, and the fact that they are different than you will always be a challenge on some level of communication. Remember however, it is important that they are comfortable in their own skin, physically and mentally as it is for any child. Encourage them to be themselves. If they do not have special needs friends, reach out to others who also have autism so your child sees that there are others like them.  It’s great to have neuro typical friends too, but your child needs to know they are not alone. On your journey as a neuro typical parent, also don’t forget to look for adult autistic mentors for your child who will know your child in ways you will not. I am at that stage now, and it is a privilege to listen to these individuals talk about their childhoods, adolescence and adulthood and say, wow they get my kid because in some ways they are him! They will be your child’s guide and yours to the world of autism and all its wonder. Until next time.

Exceptional Child Without Exceptional Excuses- How To Teach Your Child Not To Use Their Challenges As Excuses

Michael is at the age now where he understands he is neuro diverse and that his brain works differently. Heck, he’s been at that age, for better or worse, for the past three years. I say for better or worse as being the smart kid he is, he has tried to use his different brain as an excuse when he has messed up. I got angry because I have autism and ADHD and it’s harder to control my emotions. My blood sugar was high too. And my medication upsets my stomach and I can’t have my vegetables.

Well, the answer is yes and no. While this is some truth in all of the above, I know that Michael is more than his diagnoses, all of our kids are. The tough thing has been explaining this to him, while also reminding him that he is different and if people don’t know what to make of his stimming or interests, it is up to him to explain himself in a calm and positive way. Different is not inferior or superior. It is just different. Our kids are amazing, but we want them to take responsibility for all their emotions, good and bad.

Too many people have a hard time with kids who don’t fit into the cardboard box so-called norm, but that is fortunately changing as more and more information is becoming available through other neuro diverse individuals about what it is like to live in a neuro typical world and have another outlook on life. Parents can connect with other parents and exchange information and help to get their children to thrive. I think in the end though, the challenge is reminding your child that they are responsible for all their actions, good and bad, and that no matter how hard it is for them to regulate, they need to find their own ways to self-soothe and advocate for change for themselves and all neuro diverse people. Of course, when they are little, we parents and other authority figures must do it. There does need to be some help in place to support kids who have challenges. The only thing is that it is important not to use said challenges as excuses that they can’t control anxiety, anger, fear, learning issues or anything else.

Yes, it will be hard. Yes, there will need to be support and understanding. This is where parents and other adults come in. It is up to us to advocate for exceptional children when they are young. However, as they get older we need to pass the reins of self-advocacy over to them. We need to teach them to advocate for themselves, but in a responsible way where they take control of their challenges and are able to be independent, happy and healthy in the world. This is a step by step process and takes time. The first step, is a no excuses mantra they must be taught. Then, help them find solutions.

Exceptional Parents, do your Exceptional Children make excuses for themselves at home or in school? Do they not believe in themselves? If so, it’s time to break that cycle that is defeatist so that they can learn what is  under their control and what is not. Once they know that, they will be able to achieve the ultimate balance in the world. That is what we all want after all, a healthy and balanced life for our kids. Until next time.

How Bad Memories Change Over Time-Confronting The Past And Seeing The Positive

Michael likes to move. Michael likes traffic because it moves. Michael likes walking. This is why it really did not surprise me after I took a second to think about it, that walking on a busy boulevard near our home is what helps calm Michael and what is fun for him to do with me. I get the benefit of exercise, being out in the fresh air, and having an hour or more of time to talk and bond with my son which is becoming more challenging as my tween pulls away from other mother/son activities like park time. Ok, so it’s not my ideal venue of paradise, walking on busy boulevards where traffic runs rampant and noise is the order of the day, but this is what sets Michael’s soul on fire, so I make it my business to be there alongside him to show him how I want to understand him and bond with him.

And there we were on the weekend, on one of these long walks talking and then just quietly walking, when lo and behold, we were coming up to the place where he first went to daycare, the daycare he had been kicked out of due to his unusual behavior and inability to fit in. This wasn’t the first time we had walked past it. We had done this walk many times in the past. I had always pointed out to Michael that this was where he had first gone to school when he was very little. Though it had had a painful ending for me and him, he had bonded with two of his teachers and had asked about them when he was older and verbal. One of them had held him on her lap as he stroked her hair when he was distressed by the noise, the fast pace and other realities of daycare he had not been ready for at two and a half. I had told the positive things to him and then added that the long day was hard for him, and that was why we had ended up sending him to the adapted preschool where he had finally learned to talk, come out of his shell, and we had uncovered his autism and been able to bridge the gap he had with us and us with him.

For me, passing this school for years had been a painful memory though I had not shared this with Michael. I did not want to distress him. But I’ll never forget the stress and relief in that meeting with the director of the daycare who had firmly and gently told me that my son was a lovely boy, physically healthy, but that there were lots of other issues we needed to look at. He would need a full assessment at a hospital and then once we had recommendations for a speech and occupational therapist, they could look to giving him back his spot. For now, he could not continue attending the daycare. The next words she spoke stayed with me then and are still with me now. People will tell you there are worse cases than him. Hospitals, social services may turn you away. You need to fight for your son, fight with everything you have in you. She then shared with me how she had to fight for one of her two children who had physical health issues to receive services at the local hospital. She again repeated, be ready and willing to fight for him. You’re his top advocate.

Of course I took those words as law, and I have never stopped fighting for Michael. Though I always looked back on that conversation with both sadness and hope, whenever I passed the building where I had hoped Michael would blend in with the other kids, I would feel sadness, loss, and anger that things had not turned out differently. Then, there I was at that building with Michael last weekend. I looked at it. I looked at him. And I felt joy. Pure joy. I realized that was the first place that had had the courage to help me see my son for who he was, in all his beauty. They helped me fight the pediatrician for a referral for further testing. Then push for an adapted preschool. Then finally through that preschool find a Mom community, and one particular Mom, who gave me the name of a psychologist who finally gave Michael the diagnosis of autism which opened up doors for him and us. I celebrated though everyone around me mourned. Now it was just learning how best to support Michael’s learning and brain. Autism was not a bad thing. It was part of who Michael was, and it was up to me to understood this different way of seeing the world.

This was new for me though, this joy in seeing the place that had made me cry, the place that had made me finally face my son was different, and that I was different and would have to parent differently. I felt free. This place had helped me be free, Michael too. Michael is who he is because of all the experiences he has had as I am, as we all are. This is reason to celebrate and to remember that even so-called dark moments, can end up being our moments of greatest light and growth.

Exceptional Parents, do you have moments that you look back on and see as eye opening positive experiences even as they appeared negative? If not, look again. You may be surprised how with time, you can see how experiences can change you for the better, even negative ones, and how your body and mind look at things in a different way when you’ve had time to reflect. Let go. Release past hurt. Everything happens for a reason to lead you most of the time to a better tomorrow. Until next time.

How To Make Sure Your Child Does Not Use Their Different Brain As A Cop Out On Life

“Mommy, I have ADHD and Autism, right?”
“Yes, Michael.”
“So it’s ok if I’m late to activities sometimes, because it’s hard for me to get organized.”
As usual, Michael was one step ahead of me, and now I had to think of how to answer this question without enabling him when maybe unintentionally I was partly responsible for this mindset.

“Yes, organization can be hard for you, and your brain works differently buddy. But you don’t get a free pass to be late to things because you have a different brain.”
“Oh, ok Mommy.”

This was how many of our conversations went these days. Michael and I were having quite a lot of conversations along this bent. When I made the decision to tell him about his autism when he asked me what autism was and did he have it at eight years old, I did not think I would be opening up a whole lot more than I thought at the time. Michael has been asking this version of the question since he was eight years old and trying at times, smart as he is, to use his different brain to catch a break. Dad and I have not been letting him do this though, as long as we see that he is legitimately able to cope. Now, I’m not saying that we do not try and avoid situations that could trigger a sensory overload and prepare for them. If long lines are forecast for future events, I plan to call ahead and mention Michael’s difficulty with that due to his autism and adhd, but this would not mean that I would tell him that he could get away with rudeness, aggression or disorganization in society. For Michael, sometimes the supports we have in place to help him understandably make him think he is totally different from other kids and different rules apply. But, as he gets older, we are reminding him that he is just as capable to be organized like others. He is smart, well mannered, and has strengths and weaknesses as kids do who do not have autism or different brains.

Dad and I also remind him that others know he struggles in certain areas and are there to help, not in pity but in support. Others understand he wants and deserves to be a part of any activity, job and societal event that he enjoys, but they are looking to him to show them how he needs to be treated and responded to. There are some who understand him, and others who still need to be enlightened. Above all, Dad and I are telling people around us how proud we are of how far Michael has gone and how much farther we know he’ll go. Kids with autism need the same amount of love, support, encouragement and gentle pushes to get out in the world, take risks, and learn from their mistakes. They also cannot have different life rules. They need to do their school work, participate in social exchanges in a calm and respectful way, and deserve friends who cherish them like the amazing people they are. This all comes with rules they must follow just like the rest of us.

So therein begins the gentle tightrope balancing act of some help (depending on the child and what they are), with expectations that they must meet in order to find their way in the world. Our kids can do this,  all to a different degree of course, but as parents advocating for our child’s challenges and getting them to overcome them comes first. Then, it is showing the world their amazing uniqueness and what they could bring into society. Finally, it is showing our kids how to give back to the world so that they will see they are a part of something bigger. Until next time.

National Autism Awareness Month And What It Means to This Exceptional Mom

So here we are again. It’s April. It’s Spring. It’s National Autism Awareness Month, and I get to think to myself what autism means to me as someone who is outside of it, yet getting an inside glimpse into the world of someone living with autism, my son Michael. What can I say without sounding cliché? Michael has taught me more in eleven years than many others have taught me in my forty odd years on the planet, and the thing is, I keep learning more. I keep learning how to be more patient, more giving, more introspective of how I feel and why I say what I do. Michael has also helped me come out of my shell socially. Yeah, I know. Sounds ironic, doesn’t it? The thing is, Michael was social and very interactive with the world, even when he did not know how to communicate with Dad and I. He was a curious baby and toddler, even if he would sometimes tune out from us.  It was like there was this wall between him and us that he wanted to break through, but could not. His frustrations became our frustrations, until the glorious day that I was able to start meeting him halfway and he decided to do the same. He learned through play how to communicate with me and I with him. Then came singing together. Then came speaking to one another. I remember his explosion of words like it was yesterday, and the joy he found in talking and expressing himself. I was ecstatic! I could finally have a window into who my little boy was. Communication, whether by voice, pictograms, IPad or sign language, is a bridge we parents have with our exceptional kids to know who they are and what matters to them.

After when Michael got older, we talked more things together. Learning how to socialize with others, practicing social skills and customs, learning to read and write, and now as a tween, I am getting to see another side of Michael I have never seen before. He will occasionally share things he remembers from childhood. As I sit with Michael today and think about what autism means for me, I can see that some things have not changed. Autism still means for me today what it did nine years ago when Michael was diagnosed; a different brain in a different boy which needs people and a world to give him a chance to show that though he may act differently than other children, is just like them inside. He wants love, friendship, laughter, and a chance to make a difference in the world. He has skills, abilities and something to offer as all children do. And, as he gets older, he needs the rest of society to see him as a future contributing member doing a job he will love to do while benefiting the world and people around him. I am so proud of how far he has come, and whenever I see other kids with autism I am always so impressed and in awe of them. They have all accomplished so much and fought so hard for where they are today when it can be so hard on their bodies and spirits at times. Support from family, society, and the right school can make all the difference.

Exceptional Parents, where do you find yourselves weighing in on National Autism Awareness Month? Do you take a few minutes every day to tell your child you are proud of them? We all forget to do this in the busyness of life, but it’s important we acknowledge our children’s strength and resilience in a world that is not always easy on them, physically or mentally. It’s also a great time to re-evaluate what Autism Awareness means to us and our family. To me, it means a world where autistic children and adults are given the opportunity to offer their unique gifts, whatever they are, to the world to make it a better more enriching place for all. Let’s all push for that, families, educational establishments and organizations together. We can all grow from supporting diversity in all its forms. Until next time.

How Our Children Strengthen Us And What We Need To Remember On Our Parenting Journeys

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“You are amazing with him. You are redirecting him when he is inappropriate. I work with special needs kids.  I completely understand.”

This was the opening line of a Mom sitting near Michael and I in the waiting room to see his pediatrician for a follow up visit on our tumultuous year handling aggression and hyperactivity as well as his diabetes. Michael had been commenting on how much he likes her legs, as he is fascinated by women’s legs and will say this now in puberty without worry about consequences, along with other hyperactive behavior. I understand this, but have been trying to redirect him to more appropriate ways to handle his feelings.There have been many ups and downs since last summer, but this week, there have been many more ups. Still, as I have been blogging this week,  Michael’s hyperactivity and lack of impulse control has been VERY high.

He always had a hard time waiting in lines, doctors appointments and at amusement parks. Now that he is off medication for aggression that was not working, his impulsivity had no medical help, so to speak. He was happy, silly and as he has entered puberty, checking out women’s legs. He has always had a fascination with legs, and now will openly stare at women in capri pants and comment on their legs out loud. He will smile and try and talk to them too. It is cute in a way, but also highly embarrassing and inappropriate. I have been handling it by both trying to calmly discourage it by asking him to keep up with me and not stop, as well as try and ignore the staring. But this in the office could not be ignored. Not knowing this woman’s background, I was worried, so out loud in a calm voice I told Michael that I knew it was hard for him to wait and that he was off his old medication, (signs to the person that my child is not trying to be rude), but that he must stop trying to get her attention, talk so loudly, and try and be silly with standing up. He also had a little video game with him and I repeatedly directed him to watch it. To no avail. Dad was waiting near the intercom on the other side of the room, to hear when we would be called to see the doctor. When this woman identified herself and told me that she was impressed how calm I was, I thanked her for her kind words and patience, and in that moment realized I’d come a long way in the last little while, including the last year. I was patient. I was understanding of my child. I was trying to show him compassion while also teaching him how to be appropriate in the world.

 

Then, entering the doctor’s office, Dad and I had our questions for the pediatrician as well as our update since the last visit six months ago.  Dad mentioned our difficulties as did I, as well as the good moments. When he talked about the difficulties, he mentioned how I handled most of them, being the parent who is with Michael the most. I got my second surprise of the way as the doctor commended me for my calm demeanor and the “I don’t know how you do it, you are amazing” comment. I simply answered, Thank you, but I just do. He’s my son. All my Mom friends do the same for their kids.” Wow, I thought. The Universe sent me these two people today to remind me that I was reaching Michael in a positive way.  Although there were family dynamics that need improving, and trust me we are working on those, I was complimented today by these two women for a reason. God is speaking to me. I am doing something right and people see it. I need to see it and acknowledge it.

It’s not easy being an exceptional parent. You realize your child is exceptional and they are the ones struggling to fit in in a world that is foreign to them, yet until they can really advocate for themselves, you are the one who needs to do a lot of the heavy lifting for them. You need to be strong. You need to be positive. You need to show them hope, strength, resilience. Then, a surprising thing happens. You develop hope, strength and resilience just when you thought life could wipe the floor with you. You become your own advocate. You start to change the way you see your own life, even  separate from your child. Yes, it’s not always easy. There is stress, personal and maybe professional. You don’t have a lot of personal time or time for relationships. Maybe you have money issues. Maybe not. But, you start to see, if you have your health,  a passion for something you can call your own, family and friends around you that love and support you and make you laugh, you are blessed. Even through the hard days and nights, you can pass this on to your child, and show them that they are a gift to themselves, to you, and to the world. And it all starts with one or two people reminding you that you are amazing on a day when you are worried you are not getting what your child needs.

Exceptional Parents, what strength have you gained from your child? Yes, even when we make mistakes as parents or feel weak, we are our child’s strength as much as they are ours. Other people around us will see we are working hard to teach our child to be the best they can be, and we need to take that in and remind ourselves that as challenging as our children are for themselves and us, that challenge is preparing both of us for further growth. There is a purpose for them. There is a purpose for us. We need to keep growing together, and remember as hard as things get, we need to stay positive for our kids, for ourselves and for those around us. Reach out and connect with other parents if you feel yourself losing your hope and belief in you or your child. Your community will be there to remind you that you are doing work of the spirit that is necessary for everyone to grow stronger and better. Until next time.

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there and lived these very words before realizing the gift of who my son is and what he has helped me realize. If you want to have more information about me and my journey, check out my website http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com and my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks.

How To Handle The Unexpected And Go With Your Child’s Flow-More Life Lessons From My Exceptional Child

 

So Michael’s latest summer camp  experience did not work out. He felt bored at this camp, and though he was afraid to tell me at first, he found the courage this morning. I was sad, yet proud of him for having the strength of character to share his thoughts with me. I have been noticing more and more in the last month, how Michael is opening up to me more with questions, observations and in saying funny things. This warms my heart, though I have to say, having him home with me for the first time ALL DAY  today in a long while was a little overwhelming. You see, my child is a chatterbox and talks about many different topics all at the same time. His fast speech is matched by his fast physical pace. He is a boy with lots of energy. It has been a relief to me to see this side of him again.  Michael and Dad and I have had a tough two years handling his aggression and how to help him learn tools to handle it. With one medication in the fall that did not work, we then tried another one in January. It worked beautifully in calming him and helping him focus better when doing tasks as well as when doing sedentary things like watching a movie in a theater or homework. It worked so well for about four months, but then I started slowly noticing more side effects from the medication and his aggression gradually going up again.

One of the more concerning side effects was weight gain and stuttering. He has been a fluent speaker for years. But another thing it took time for me to see was his happiness seeming to diminish. He did not seem to have that same crazy energy and sense of humor as before. I missed it. I tried to tell myself, and at first it was easy, that he was better able to learn the therapy tools he was being taught to handle his anger, and he was calmer, However, he just did not look like my little boy. Friday night after a very difficult evening, I spoke to his psychiatrist and asked if we could take him off this medication. She agreed and told me what I needed to do. In three days time, he was off of it. I could not believe the difference. There has been very little aggression or anger, and when he has an episode he has been able to apply strategies to calm down on his own. He also is happy, really happy again. He is singing songs, dancing!

These are things he had stopped doing. One thing that has taken me time to get used to is the boundless energy that comes out in strange places, like today at a store he got overstimulated and started acting silly. A month ago, the incident would either not have happened, or would have been more low key. It took some adjusting in my parenting style to handle this type of behavior, but I also see that his time on this medication taught him how to slowly start applying the therapy strategies his Educator had introduced to him. It has been nothing short than amazing to see how he is blooming.

I have also seen how I am applying my parenting strategies differently too, understanding so much more now about his brain and how it works. It is not always perfect. There have been times I’ve lost my temper. Sometimes it was understandable. Other times, it was more about, “can you go to bed already because I need Mommy alone time,” also understandable, but more for me than him. Still, the unexpected, a bad night which was the final key to altering something major in Michael’s therapy, to handling him pulling out of an activity which I usually did not do as smoothly, has shown me how both Michael and I have grown in the past eleven months. The unexpected now does not frighten me as it used to, and Michael is slowly starting to learn that too.

Exceptional Parents, what unexpected things does your Exceptional Child teach you every day? It is usually the small things that we overlook at first, that are the eye openers that our child is growing up- how they talk about stress, how they ask questions or make statements,  how they look  or whether they speak of certain people or places in a positive way. Be present in that moment them. See how they handle themselves and what they do. Chances are they will help you learn to be more present in your parenting life and life in general. 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

Consistency Is Key-How To Set Boundaries With Your Exceptional Child

I realized  as soon as the words were out of my mouth that I would have to follow through. Oh no. There would be no outing to the park tonight as the evening before Michael was not listening and had lots of inappropriate behaviors towards me. There had been times I’d missed this cue and not reacted by giving a consequence in time. What had this caused? Inconsistency in how Michael looked for attention and got it from me. Dad has been having the same problem. We realized that due to him being a very detail-oriented kid who needs to know what is happening at all times, we also needed to be more aware of setting more boundaries as to what is acceptable and not. In trying to move away from a strict schedule and trying to teach Michael to be more flexible, we had forgotten to set boundaries on what is appropriate for him to say or do.

Michael is a sensory child. He will want to hug or squeeze you. He will also sometimes come in your personal space. We are now realizing we need to remind him about each person’s personal bubble and how important it is to respect that. We also need to teach him what is appropriate to say or not. All our exceptional kids have their quirks about behavior and expectation. Just remember that as a parent we all forget from time to time to keep the universal rules in place. With kids with ASD and  different brains, however, a common rule set is really important to keep families functioning smoothly and expectations clear. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Write down family rules: This is good in any family, but especially in exceptional ones where kids can have an idea what to expect.
  2. Have a rewards  system for good behavior: If your child responds well to it, have a rewards system for good behavior with details on what they could earn.
  3. Both parents need to have same set of rules: It’s important that rules apply across the board with both sets of parents.
  4. Praise the good: Sometimes as parents we forget to look at the good behavior and only focus on the bad. Change that mindset.
  5. Have stable routines: Have a stable bedtime, daytime and all other times family routine. This will help your child feel more secure.

Exceptional Parents, how do you keep consistency in your family for behavior and other things? If you are not always doing things the same way, stop and think how this is affecting  your child’s and your stress level. You can solve so much  anxiety and stress with keeping consistent in how you respond to your child and other family events. You will see how this will help you all as a family grow stronger and be happier. 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.

Keeping The Emotional Bond and Handling The Distance Of Your Exceptional Child

So puberty has hit our household, and with it comes new demands and issues-hormonal and otherwise. Michael still needs my love and hugs, but I can see the times he is starting to pull away from me and Dad, in a healthy way. Then there is the not so healthy turning to friends and peer groups that offer the challenges of silliness, swearing and other “forbidden” at home topics. This is where I am still getting my feet wet as an exceptional mom, but getting there. I find myself asking the question Michael’s preschool teachers first told me to ask myself when he was three years old, “if he did not have any  challenges, would you dress him or have him learn to dress himself?” Now the question is at eleven years old, “if he did not have any challenges, would I be telling him who to hang around with or what not to say?” Of course, the answer to both questions is yes, I would be doing my best to teach Michael independence, and if he made a mistake with dressing or choosing the wrong crowd, step in and gently steer him in the right direction. I am lucky that he is still listening and values his bond with Dad and I.

Of course, he still needs to learn from mistakes. When he got in trouble at school for being silly with a friend and lost his recess by having to stand on the wall, he was very upset. He told me it was not fair. I told him that he was warned by the teacher on duty if he continued not listening the consequence would be no recess the next day. He had to pay that consequence for not heeding the warning. Yes, he has attentions issues and hyperactivity.  Yes, he has autism and some rigidity issues. But that is not an excuse to not follow the rules. At home as well, Dad and I are seeing a lot of “tween” rebellion. It is both exciting and stressful along with navigating other things. However, I have to think. He has to go through puberty with us, his neuro typical parents, who although can relate to some of his stressors, cannot truly know what is inside his head. We are all learning together. We are learning to continue confiding in each other, giving each other space, and forgiving one another when we make mistakes.

Exceptional Parents, how are you faring in puberty if you are at that stage? Is it harder than the delayed terrible two’s? Remember, your child is feeling things twice as intensely as you, so compassion is in order as well as patience with them and yourself. Treat your child as you would any child, while at the same time keeping in mind that some things may need to be tweaked or adapted in helping our kids understand their emotions more clearly. 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