Category: child development

Understanding Sensory, Processing and Other Exceptional Issues With Your Exceptional Child

When your child has a brain that is wired differently, life is extremely challenging for them and for you. As they grow up, you learn different ways to understand each other. I have had to painstakingly explain to Michael how my brain works and he has done the same to me. Sometimes, it is done patiently and easily on both our parts. Sometimes, it has been more challenging. But one thing I can say is that the things that have helped me understand Michael better have had to do with looking at real articles, talking to or reading articles and books by real autistic people, and of course, touching base with my neuro diverse son and hearing from his mouth what works. So, through my own trial and error, here are ways I have managed to troubleshoot sensory and processing differences that Michael has and try and understand him better:

1) Observe my son in all his moments, happy and sad: Sometime we neuro typical parents will misunderstand a sensory issue that means our child is upset or excited. Once we start to watch our child more closely in all settings, we will begin to understand more why they do what they do and what the need serves. If not, we know we need to ask more questions.

2) Ask your child questions: Yes, some children are limited verbally, some are non-verbal, and some are so verbal they can’t stop talking. However, this does not mean that it will be easy or hard for them to answer how they feel and why. It may take many conversations, but really show your child you are meeting them where they are and respecting their personal ways of regulating with the world.

3) Try out a variety of sensory friendly toys and options: Don’t be afraid to try out different sensory friendly toys like hand fidgets, sand, bubbles, things like trampolines, swings, activities like swimming, dancing.  You need to see if they are hypo or hyper sensitive to stimuli and if they need to move more or less. Does light or movement bother them? Do they seek it out? Understanding this means understanding how your child needs to be in the world to feel better in their body.

4) If they need to rock, flap or vocalize let them: Another way to help your child, within reason and within what the setting is too, of course, would be to let them do what they need to do to  regulate. If rocking, jumping, flapping or vocalizing helps them find balance in themselves, we must understand that they need to do this. Of course there are settings where they need to learn to have quieter options or move to a place where they can make sounds or move. Again, this means your child will realize you understand them and what they need to do to handle outside and internal stimuli better.

5) Read articles, books, blogs or talk to other neuro diverse people: The best way to understand how your child’s sensory system works is to talk or read about other autistic, adhd or other types of different-brained people to get a glimpse at this mind from the inside out. I remember the first time I did this how insightful it was to me. I learned how to help my son find moments to release the pent up energy in a healthy way. I was humbled talking to this individual and I continue to be when reading articles or talking to other neuro diverse people in person.

Exceptional Parents, how do you support and help your Exceptional Child handle sensory issues or sensitivities? I think the first place to start is in thinking we need to fix our kids. That is not the case. They are not broken. They merely have a different way of seeing the world than we do and need our understanding, compassion and interest to help them see that they are fine the way they are. When we make the effort to support and love our child, they in turn learn to love and accept themselves and the wonderful gift they are to us and to the world. Until next time.

 

 

Self-Blame and Exceptional Parenting-When To Go Easy On Yourself And Know You Are Doing Your Best

As I sat looking at Michael’s report card tonight, I couldn’t help but smile at the Michael I recognize at home, all the places where he was written about as curious, social with peers and people in general, great navigating and sense of direction, whether on school grounds or when his school goes on community outings. I also heard about the polite side of Michael, which I do still see at home, though with full tween attitude is not always visible. 🙂 Teachers and staff love him and I couldn’t be more proud.

All jokes aside, these comments brought a smile to my face. What was harder to read were the comments about Michael’s challenges. Needs redirection to listen to others and wait, needs to slow down, needs support in certain subjects as he is distracted. As an exceptional mom who has tried so hard to work on these things with Michael at home and home therapy, I felt like I had failed too reading those words, failed to help him come further along at home so it would be easier in school to master material.  I know the ADHD brain has a hard time settling. I know the medication he is on for focus, though it was helped greatly, will not change his ability to concentrate unless he makes other behavioral changes, which is slow in coming. He has made progress, but big lasting change takes time. We are all working on building our patience too as a family.

I cannot take responsibility for every choice and learning decision Michael makes, especially as he gets older. It is hard knowing what to tackle sometimes. I have wanted to do tutoring, though academics is not Michael’s strength. Then also, there were, and still are, behavioral challenges for him to overcome at home and strategies he needs to learn to cope with distraction and impulsivity. So why do I always go back to blaming myself? Mom blame is something so many of us Moms, particularly the exceptional ones, put on ourselves. If only I had tried that therapy. If only he had been at the activity. That skill would have been mastered. He would have been further ahead. He would have less challenges now in puberty where his hormones are all over the place.

I am learning to shake off my self-criticism. Michael is doing the best that he can with what he has got. I am sure there are things we can improve on, and plan to talk about these things with Michael’s team next week when we meet for parent/teacher night. It is not one person’s job to raise a child, any child. It is the child, the parents, the family’s and society’s job together. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child, and I remind myself of that on the days I feel discouraged that I have not done enough to help Michael get to the next level of his development.

Exceptional Parents, do you ever take the whole blame for your Exceptional Child’s academic or social difficulties? It’s normal as you want them to succeed and be happy. But it’s also important to remember, as they get older, that they need some autonomy in making their own strides forward and handling their own difficulties. Do what you can as a parent to encourage healthy learning all around. Then step back. Let your child find their pace and fly. Until next time.

 

Clearing Up Communication Deficits- 5 Ways To Help You Understand Your Exceptional Child Better

Michael is growing up. Each day I see how he is pushing to be more independent and self-sufficient, yet there are still the struggles he faces with impulse control, asking for help, and realizing that when you love someone, you need to respect that they have boundaries, physical and psychological from you and you from them.

As I have realistically began to see Michael’s strengths and weaknesses and not assumed that I have to find the solution to all his problems, I have learned how communication deficits exist on all sides of the family-the parent’s and the child’s side. I have learned how to talk to Michael, get his input and give mine so that we can figure out how we can fix family fights or problems that keep occurring. Below are 5 ways our family has learned to handle communication deficits:

  1. Be honest about your weaknesses and what you are working on: It’s important to share with your child your own challenges and what you are doing to fix them- i.e. I have a temper so I take myself to a room to do 5 deep breaths and some yoga before I continue a discussion.
  2. Acknowledge their fear and frustration: It’s important that your child knows you feel bad that they are struggling. You are not okay-ing negative behavior, just saying you are there to support them through it.
  3. Ask them what tools they think could work: For a young child, ask if they need to blow bubbles, get a hug, squeeze something or walk to calm down. For an older child, let them write or describe what strategies they can use to center themselves and what they need from you.
  4. Make time to talk to them: No matter how tired you are, make time to listen and talk to your child. If they are not ready, just let them know that you are there for them when they are.
  5. Reward good behavior, and remind your child that they are not failures, they make good or bad choices: It’s important that kids see you catch them at being good. It’s also important that even when they trigger you by making bad choices, you tell them you are mad about the choice. It does not reflect the love you feel for them ever.
    Exceptional Parents, what communication challenges do you have in your family? We all have to clear up how we communicate first as parents to our children and other adults, and then teach our kids by example how they can better describe from us what they need. It’s also important that we prize honesty about all else, and work on teaching our kids that there is no shame in learning from our mistakes. Until next time.

Emerging-How To Connect To All Areas Of Your Exceptional Life and Parent Better

To say that I have this exceptional parenting thing under control at all times would be a lie, but I also have a confession to make. After an extremely challenging two years with Michael as well as personally, I am also at a point in my exceptional parenting life when I am seeing things coming together for me and how I look at Michael, myself and my relationships. How did it all start? Well, it began when I became tired of always pushing down resentments, fear and anger. Once I realized that my feelings were as valid as Michael’s, I began seeing how important it was I own them as much as I teach Michael to own his. I also realized how important my own personal happiness was too, just like Michael’s.

So now, when I am tired and need a break, I have no issues saying, I need 20 min. I’m taking it. I come back recharged and ready to handle anything. Finally, I also own failures and times when I don’t make good choices, and like I tell Michael, it’s ok to make mistakes. We live, we learn, we grow. I have even been known a few times to say when I yelled and became frustrated, Mom forgot to use her calming strategies.

Just this evening I said something without thinking that upset Michael. He felt I was treating him like a baby and he hates this. He grumbled, “Why didn’t you stop and think before talking Mom?” I almost laughed. It is usually me telling him that. “Because I forgot Michael. You are right. See, we all forget to do this sometimes.” I have also learned how to sit down with Michael and talk about what we can change to communicate better and so both of us are calmer and happier. This has made a world of difference.

But what things have helped me connect everything together in my parenting life to grow and become stronger? Here is the list I follow and continuously revise as needed:

  1. Make time for things that nourish my spirit: For me this is meditation, yoga and writing.  I pretty much do all three every day, and if I ever miss a day with any of them, I get back to it first thing the next day.
  2. Get enough sleep: No matter what I am falling behind on at home, I do not sacrifice sleep.
  3. Enjoy time alone with no guilt: Time alone for me is spent taking strolls in a bookstore, nature walks, or sitting quietly reading a good book with a cup of coffee. This is time well spent as it re-energizes me and gives me patience to handle any parenting stress that comes my way.
  4. Make time to talk and see friends: Spending time with adults, like minded ones that make you laugh and share your highs and lows, also helps you see the whole picture of your parenting life. It’s not all bad!
  5. Write down the progress your child has made: This has been one that has been a game changer for me. With all the struggles and hard times our family has had, seeing how far Michael has come in maturing, and seeing it on paper in a place in the house where we all can look at it, has helped us all celebrate the successes and look to the positive.
  6. Realizing that I am the guide, not the savior: I used to think that I was responsible for saving my child or making sure he made all the right decisions or else I would have failed as an exceptional parent. Now, I see more realistically that I am Michael’s guide. I am here to teach him, help and support him, and show him the path, but then it is his choice which way to go. His choice, good or bad, and I am not responsible for that. I love him no matter what an tell him that, but he is responsible for his choices, not me.  This has taken a lot of pressure off of me.

Exceptional Parents, how have you emerged and changed as an exceptional parent over the years? Remember, each thing you learn as you parent, helps you to grow and become stronger. You grow through the good and bad moments. You grow through learning to let go of old hurts and embrace your mistakes as well as successes. And through it all you realize one day that you find balance in your life again, and acceptance of yourself as you do of your child. This is when you can truly parent from your best place. Until next time.

Giving Boundaries While Letting Loose-How To Choose Where To Pick Your Exceptional Battles With Your Child

Being the parent of an exceptional child means you are constantly learning new things about balance, balancing how to present information in a clear and concise way so you know your child gets it, balancing time when you talk and they listen and vice versa, and finally balancing when to have hard and fast consequences with no do overs, and when to be a little more lenient. For me, it’s been a challenge learning to read Michael’s autistic and ADHD brain, and which part is speaking to me now. Add in a dose of puberty and well, it’s really fun and games at our house some days and nights. Still, I have found comfort in coming up with some rules that are starting to work well for our neurodiverse family.

I have also found that there are times when Dad and I have to wing it. If Michael has had a rough day and I could see that his coping skills and tolerance for frustration is low, I’ll allow some leeway in giving him extra time to come to dinner or get organized for the evening etc. High blood sugars also mean that we tread carefully. But for the most part, it’s been about understanding how Michael’s brain works differently and how his difficulty with impulse control leads to a lot of problems. He’s starting to recognize when and where he needs help though, as are we. Things are working better as a result.  I have devised some hard and fast rules that are non-negotiable and that we all follow. This has slowly become like our family Bible. Here they are:

  1. Violence of any kind is not tolerated in any form, shade or color. Of course, Dad and I have always said no violence  for any reason, but we would end up talking too much, yelling too much, and in the past, escalating situations farther along unfortunately. Now, it is a calm, firm, direct response on our part with severe consequences. As a result, the intensity has gone down.
  2. Catch frustration, anxiety or anger in the early stages and try and understand and redirect it: What has also been helpful is catching when Michael is feeling upset early on and helping redirect him so he can calm down enough to then come back and talk.
  3.  Making sure physical boundaries are in place for all: This is so important when you have a child that sits or stands too close, does not understand if you can’t stop what you are doing to focus on them, and in general has challenges with social cues. Over the years, we’ve modeled to Michael, now I’m finishing this, I’d love to hear what you have to say in five or ten minutes. For me, it’s no talking to Mom till she has her morning coffee and meditates. I need that first 20 minutes to come into myself before being able to attend to any issue.
  4. As angry as we all get at one another, we get up and try again tomorrow: This is an important rule in any family, but in an exceptional family, teaching unconditional love is very important and practicing it more so. We have always told Michael we love him and will always be there to help him. Now it is time he helps himself by changing the negative behaviors and asking for help where he struggles. We model the same thing.
  5. Use humor to teach: This has been one I have used over the years in varying degrees. You need to laugh at the absurdity of some situations you and your child find yourselves in that are out of your control. Often when unexpected things have happened that stressed Michael out, (as well as me), laughing and having an oh well, that’s crazy life, attitude has slowly helped Michael learn to lighten up a bit too.  It’s also helped Dad and I  do more of that when we are together or alone.

Exceptional Parents, what hard and fast rules do you have in your Exceptional Families that are non-negotiable and which rules do you occasionally bend? It’s a juggling or tightrope act, I know. However, the important thing is recognizing that your child, like you, is unique and has their own quirks. Once you know what works best to help them feel secure, safe and sure of what is happening around them, even if it is rules they don’t like, you will see that they will see you as the caregiver and supporter they need to learn about their world with confidence and grow into the independent and well-adjusted adult you know they can be. Until next time.

When Your Exceptional Child Gets Their Impulsivity-Techniques To Help Them Move Forward

“I’m trying Mommy, I really am, but it’s hard. I can’t stop myself sometimes. I can’t stop and think.”
I sighed. Michael and I were having yet another long discussion about his impulsivity in saying things that were inappropriate and some angry outbursts that he had had that week. We were reviewing his strategies, the worksheets he had filled out to try and understand his brain better, and other things that we could be putting into place that could help him.

“I know it’s hard Michael, but you can’t just explode when you don’t hear things you like. Being angry is ok. You just need to make sure that you are calm enough to talk about your feelings to your father and I when have calmed down.

“I am impulsive, right?”

“Well, you have impulsive moments. Your brain is wired that way, but it does not mean that you can’t find the right techniques to use that could help you. Remember, your brain, the ADHD and Autism brain is incredible. You’ve just got to work out the parts that make anger and anxiety harder to control.”

Michael nodded and again spoke of doing his best to try and learn from his outbursts. I acknowledged that I could see how doing that as well as how I could tell when his mouth was getting ahead of his brain. We talked about how even neuro typical people have their moments. I used examples when I became angry because I didn’t do my strategies in the early stages of anger or frustration. It’s important to remind our kinds that even neuro typical brains that don’t have impulse control issues have their moments as well when they may make less than stellar choices.

After having this conversation, I realized I had been using a little checklist of things that were working to help Michael and our family in understanding his exceptional brain. Here are some techniques that could help your child cope when they are having those difficult moments processing feelings:

1) Have a sheet of paper in a few places with the STOP acronym as a reminder for them to stop, think, observe and plan before they act on feelings.

2) Depending on the age, have them make a “Calm Box” of toys, fidgets, or other articles where they can fiddle and go to when they are stressed and about to lose it.

3) Have a short phrase that you can utter firmly if you see your child losing it. In our family we use room, strategies. Michael knows to pick one of three rooms to go calm down an regroup before coming out to talk.

4) Have a time limit of how long they need to regroup. In our house it’s been 15 and 20 minutes.

5) Discuss afterwards how to better communicate so as to avoid frustrations. I go with, “I can see how angry you are. I am tired of having this same fight too, how can we fix this together?” Depending on the child’s age and level of comprehension, you may need to tailor it, but the gist is that as parents we hear our child out affirming what  is frustrating them as well as us, and how we can fix it.

Exceptional Parents, does your Exceptional Child understand their impulsivity? If not, are they struggling to? If so, the best thing to do is to sit down when you are both calm, find a set of techniques that work to help them calm down and you remind them when they are going off track. In the end, if the child gets mad, is able to catch themselves, use a strategy, then learn from the frustration, you know you are on the right path. Until next time.

Giving Space And Making Boundaries-Finding the Balance With Your Exceptional Child

Finding the balance. That sounds like such a cliché for life in general, especially living in a family, but it is all about balance- having time alone, having time with your child or children, having time as a couple and with friends and extended family. And then of course, there are the strategies you need to put into place to have this happen, this balance. It’s not easy. We need to have a system in place though for ourselves, so then it is easier to show our exceptional kids what is expected of them.

It has taken me a while to fine tune a balance with Michael. What was balance when he was five years old changed when he was eight and now at twelve it is even more different. Balance for me also looks different today and is healthier. So what exactly does this mean? It means giving your child their own personal space while they give you yours. This space means they can create, make mistakes and learn from it. You as the parent have this same option. Boundaries though, are the things our kids can’t cross. Children and adults should both respect boundaries for things like hugs, personal space and time alone.

As Michael has grown up, he has needed less time one on one with Dad and I. This does not mean that he does not still turn to us for advice, sharing news, and to talk. It just means he does not need us to create his whole schedule like when he was younger. He still needs a schedule though, but he now sets the pace. Many exceptional kids need the space to set their own activities, while parents still put down the rules for other activities. Figuring this out with your child means finding what amount of time they can organize, and what they need help with. Emotionally, kids need us at all ages, but as they grow up, it’s important to have them learn how to self-regulate, handle disappointment as well as success and excitement. You are there in the wings to help them, but let them fly.

Exceptional Parents, how do you find the balance with your Exceptional Child? The best way is to start with the basic things that make relationships work-discussing time spent together, discussing time spent apart, and compromising with each other in between. Let your child take the lead in asking for what they need, then you as the parent lovingly guide them to choosing what they are capable of choosing and setting up parental rules and protections on the rest of your relationship. A child will feel safest when they have some control, and parents have rules as safeguards in place for the rest. Until next time.

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.

Independence At The Least Likely Time-How To Balance Keeping Boundaries While Letting Your Exceptional Child Run Free

“I don’t want to go for a walk with you Mom. Maybe another day. I like my alone walks. Thanks.”

“Ok Michael, but remember to take your supplies, have your phone on, and remember to be home in an hour.”
“Ok. Bye. See you later!
“Have fun!”

“Thanks!”

This has pretty much been the drill for the last week. Michael has been going on long walks all by himself on the small streets, handling everything and getting home on time. In order to keep better track of him, Dad got him a phone where he can call us and he can be tracked by us so we know where he is. He is delivering on his promise to be home on time and stay safe. We allow  him solo bike rides as well now as he has demonstrated he can do it.

One part of me is overjoyed. My boy is growing up and does not need me as much anymore. Busy streets he will still go with me for a couple more years. He accepts this, but for now he is treasuring his independence and prefers to go alone. I don’t blame him. The other part of me misses our time talking during the walks. He is eager to still talk to me at home and do drives, but I loved sharing my love of fitness with him and have missed this during this week while enjoying the freedom it gave me to relax, catch up on work, or write.

What is it about the path that our children take when they are not children but yet not adults either? I am both overjoyed and fearful at the same time. I never knew if Michael would engage in this type of adolescent behavior. It’s hard to gauge with an exceptional tween/teen where they fall in the puberty/growing up department. It could be anywhere. I am glad to be having this trouble as I know a lot of parents of exceptional kid are wishing for things like this, but it is challenging as Michael may think he needs less limits as he is growing up, but due to still having difficulty with certain social cues and body language, there are still things I need to adapt for him and protect him from.

Walking the fine line between childhood and adolescence. This is where exceptional tween Michael falls and his parents fall with him. It is far from easy. I can’t baby this Michael. I am told frequently to stop nagging, stop treating him like a baby. Then when I do try to give him space to do his own thing, he will say, “why are you outside so much? stay here with me.” I have talked to him about boundaries, alone time and time spent together. I have shown through example how I will always make time for him and put my other things aside to listen. However, I also need downtime, time alone, to decompress, like him. More and more he has been respecting this. He asked the other day if I had had time to do my yoga. He was concerned I hadn’t.

As a parent, balancing being there with stepping back is a challenge. Still, the important thing to remember is to go with your child’s cues. If they need you and they are in the childhood part of their tween hood, be there for them. If they want more independence to show you they can handle things, give them space. Always have rules for them though. You are the parent, and they need to know that you are in charge of keeping them safe while they find their footing.

Exceptional Parents, how are you faring in finding the balance between letting your child be independent and putting in normal childhood boundaries? Remember, they need a bit of both to grow up healthy. Judge for yourself whatever stage they are at, what they need more, and go easy on yourself if your family hits a snag. Remember, you can work it out as you go along if your child feels your love for them. That is all that matters in the end. Until next time.

Tools To Get On The Same Emotional Page As Your Exceptional Child

So Michael has been having some social fears this summer. He will go to crowded places for brief periods of time, had no trouble at summer camp where he knows people, but is feeling a little overwhelmed going places with me and Dad. I agree with our Educator that I think he is just so much more aware of everyone and everything around him, and due to difficulty with understanding some social cues, I think he would rather stay away from people than make a mistake socializing. I wish I could say that I have been more understanding with this. It’s not that I have not been understanding, but lately his tween anger, rude comments and  adolescent posturing combined with the anxiety, has made me feel a little overwhelmed. Some days are easier than others, and I always try and see the gifts Michael has, but I don’t always shine anymore than Michael does. We do our best to regroup and start again.

Don’t get me wrong. We still have good moments. He has come so far in independence with organizing himself, managing his diabetes and of course, his amazing ability to navigate any street or area in our city. The most fun is having him direct me around town as I have zero sense of direction.  He is starting to try and learn other cities now! Still, it occurred to me today when Michael expressed frustration that I don’t listen to him and that is why he gets mad and I echoed the same sentiments, that we needed to sit down and look at new tools to work collaboratively as a family. Here are the ones I am putting in place:

1) Make lists of things you want to fix together The trick to making these lists is that both you AND your child sit down together and write what improvements each of you could make so that communication gets easier.

2) Praise the good efforts they are making even if there are still mistakes: Michael had been feeling that even when he messes up the times he doesn’t do not get praised. I was actually feeling underappreciated myself in this area as well. After having a few fights this week, we each took time apart and then made a deal to look for the good in each other. We also both told the other one we like spending time together, just need to improve how we communicate.

3) Remember your child is having a harder time than you: Sigh. This has been tough for me. Most summers it is as I have Michael 24/7 a lot more than during the school year and he is not in routine the same way as in school. Still, even during a rough patch earlier today, I reminded myself that as overwhelmed as I am with Michael in puberty, with his unique brain and diabetes, for him this is all way more stressful to handle. Compassion for your child needs to come first. Then for yourself.

4) Tell them you love them even if they don’t say it back: Yep. Mine is too cool to say I love you and does not want hugs. I get “I like you” and high fives, tens or twenties. It’s ok and I know normal for a lot of kids in puberty to do this. The fact that he says he wants to spend time with me, is discouraged when I am upset, and does silly inappropriate things to get my attention, show me I matter to him. I am starting to say I love you more often and not go to bed mad. I also remind him I am always there to talk about things whenever he needs me.

5) Take care of yourself and tell them why you are doing it: Make sure your child sees you doing things that make you happy. When Michael asks me “why are you going outside again?” He is upset that I am not in the same room as him, but I explain that being in the yard is my time to recharge, unwind, be creative and occasionally let out big emotions. When I come back in, I am calmer and able to handle things better with him. Then we have time together.

Exceptional Parents, what tools do you use to handle the ups and downs of life with your Exceptional Child? As long as what you use works for the two of you, the formula is correct. Remember, they need to feel as listened to as you do. They need to know you respect them, love them no matter what unconditionally,  and that you will never give up on them.  Until next time.