Category: Christmas holiday tips

How To Have An Exceptional Holiday And Open Yourself Up to Another New Year

Happy New Year 2019 to all the amazing Exceptional Families out there! This is one of the hardest times of the year for us and our kids, yet can also be one of the most joyful on the other end. I have lived both the highs and the lows, as have most Exceptional Parents. My trick in increasing the highs has been finding a combination of three things: 1) planned out cherished family traditions, 2) alone adult time with Dad and other adults in the family, and 3) self care and alone time for me BEFORE and DURING the holiday season. How the heck do I do this, you may ask? It takes juggling, trial and error, and most importantly, listening to your own personal gut on what you need to be the best you can be.

For example, this year I did something I never have done before. I always make sure to get some alone time during the busy holiday season of visiting family, going places alone with Michael and family time spent at home or out together. This comes in the form of a Hamamm and massage I do the first week back to school/work. Well, this year my body and spirit were both telling me to do these two things before and during the holiday season, respectively. I went to the Hamamm for an energizing body recharge with a friend before Christmas, and then in the middle between Christmas and the New Year, realized I needed that one hour massage now more than a week or two later when I would usually go. What a difference it made to my spirit to have indulged in both of these activities in the hectic holiday season. It gave me the energy and patience to handle some of the more hectic days home together. As a matter of fact, my gift from me to me this year was a spa gift card as a reminder that self-care is the gift that keeps on giving and helps me do the important work of raising Michael and growing myself into the person I am meant to become while doing the work I am meant to be doing.

Another change I made was booking a night out with a friend to see a movie. Again recharging those batteries during a hectic time when routines are out the window.  Michael has been doing extremely well this holiday season, but there have still been rough patches. They do not seem so insurmountable when I am taking care of me and my health. I also made sure to squeeze in a little two hour date with Dad to catch up. It’s been a stressful time for both of us in 2018, and I feel like with the start of 2019, we both need to prioritize individual as well as couple time. I have enjoyed the time alone I’ve spent with Michael shopping, talking and driving. It’s because I am learning from the mistakes I made burning myself out in the past, that I am applying new self-care, couple-care and family care to our family in 2019. It’s so important to have balance-mental, physical, and spiritual in order to find ourselves again. It’s so important that we teach our children to find this balance and teach our partners that we need this and that they do too. Dad and I have more tweaking to do in 2019, but we are slowly making inroads in this direction.

Exceptional Parents, what are some of your goals for 2019 in your families? I’m sure most of you have it all planned out for your kiddos, but what about goals for you as a parent? Is self-care as high as therapy for your child? Are you making sure to prioritize your relationships? Are you organizing your family and personal life to compliment each other? If so, great. You are on the right track to making 2019 rock. Remember, your amazing child needs their amazing parent to be happy and healthy in all ways. Do the changes you need to keep your whole family balanced and happy in 2019. Until next time.

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

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Holiday Madness Descending- How To Cope In Your Exceptional Family

‘Tis the season for fun, family, festivities and sensory overload. Yep, it’s the holidays, and as much as Exceptional Families love the holidays like Neuro Typical Families do, our kids usually have a harder time. It’s not that they don’t enjoy the family gatherings, gifts or other traditions that go with it. It’s usually all of the above combined that will send most Exceptional Kids (and their parents), over the edge into over stimulation and meltdown mode. So, as an Exceptional Family, what can you do to help your Exceptional Child cope better with the holidays? Here are some ideas:

  1. Structure what you can: I know, the holidays are all about unwinding and NOT structuring, but our kids need some kind of structure in order to function in the way they are used to functioning in day to day life. Make the structure natural for home life, but give them some sort of idea as to what will be expected of them.
  2. Prepare them for the craziness: Talk to your kids either verbally or with pictos, about what the holiday entails. This means discussing what is expected of each of us by family, friends, and with other traditions so that will know what is happening.
  3. Form your own family traditions: This hard been a hard one for me. I was always a stickler for doing everything the same way I or Dad was brought up. However, we learned with an Exceptional Child we would need to adjust our way of thinking so everyone would have a good holiday. Now my main concerns are health, happiness and fun all around. As long as those conditions are met, I know we are on the right path. This means allowing down time for our child as well as time spent with family and friends.
  4. Set aside down time as a nuclear family: I am a firm believer in ‘safe days’, that is, days where there is not too much stimulation from family or friends, so that the day runs smoothly and Michael feels calm (as do Dad and I). Let’s face it, every parent worries when their Exceptional Child is having a hard time, so if we learn to give time for our child to stim, regulate, and do what he needs to do, everything else will fall into place.
  5.  Take time for yourselves individually: It’s important that Exceptional Moms and Dads take time for themselves to recharge their batteries before doing anything else as individuals. It’s only when we feel calm and centered, that we can pass that message on to our children.
    Exceptional Parents,  how do you cope with the holidays in positive frame of mind?  It’s important that no matter what, you learn how to regulate your behavior and your family’s and remember that everyone being comfortable is the best way to go. Happy Holidays! Until next time.

Feeling overwhelmed as an Exceptional Parent? Don’t know where to turn for tips, and ways to survive and thrive during the whole journey? You are not alone. I have walked and continue to walk this path myself. As a writer, speaker, parent coach and Mom to a son with Autism, ADHD, and Type 1 Diabetes,  I can help you through all the twists and turns that parenting an exceptional child require, while keeping your sense of humor intact, your sense of self and relationships intact, and helping you see that not only are you raising your exceptional child, but they are raising you to be the best human being you can be. You are each other’s advocates for a better world. For more information on my coaching packages, contact me at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.  

New Things to Do To Have An Easier Holiday With Your Exceptional Child

I sometimes forget how hard it will be for Michael over the Christmas holiday period, even with the structure we do put in. He gets overwhelmed by the all the activity, food and open time, plus this year a few extra birthday celebrations were added in. It has been too much for him and too much for Dad and I. We attempted to have a quiet New Year’s Eve in to make things easier on Michael, but it backfired in a big way. Maybe the distraction of people would have been better. Two days into the New Year and I and Dad are exhausted. With another week to structure and keep him busy, I have learned several things to keep in mind for next year. We will try in the hope that it will help us and Michael enjoy the holiday more:

  1. Schedule in a downtime activity every day: Crafts, movie etc. I am going to insist he do that so as parents we can have a breather as much as him.
  2. Look into a winter camp for a few days: He may need some artificial structure before school particularly on a long break.
  3. New behavior tools in place (which we have started doing): Whatever behavior tools you have in place may need to be modified as your child grows and matures.
  4. More time for me to chill: I admit it. My self-care sucked last week. The moments I wasn’t with Michael I was working, so by New Year’s Eve I was mentally fried. Next year, I will remind myself to take time to relax at night, not work.
  5. Make time to really be present for Michael: This sounds like a contradiction to many of the points above, but really I know, we all know that challenging behavior happens when our kids feel we are listening to them otherwise. Where is he getting this message? Maybe our time together feels forced to him or he is testing his strength in the family. Either way, Dad and I are making an effort to really be with him when we are and asking him to share what feelings he can since he is capable.

Exceptional Parents, what do you plan on doing differently for the next holiday if your holidays were rough or are still going rough with your Exceptional Child? As a matter of fact, you can start implementing many of these strategies right now in yours and your child’s daily life. Remember 2017 is your chance at a fresh start. Until next time.

am a writer and parent coach at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance.” I am passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparenting.net.

Do you want to make new changes to your anxiety management strategies in 2017? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Different Tools to Help Your Exceptional Child With Challenging Emotions

We are pretty much at the mid point of the holidays now. Michael has adjusted somewhat, yet there are still the difficulties with scheduling and knowing what is happening next. We cannot replicate school with the standard visual schedule up on the wall where very little changes, nor do we want to. I used to want to when he was younger. He would suffer so much in those days being away from friends and his routine. Now though, he is happy to be home, well I mean away from school. He doesn’t like staying home, but that is another blog post altogether. 🙂 He is learning how to structure his own free time as well, but what I find difficult sometimes is how to help him learn to handle his stress and anger. He is becoming increasingly annoyed at reading social stories, and insists that a visual schedule at home with times and what we will be doing is for babies and that is not him. At least he still writes down stuff on a calendar! What to do?

I started thinking the other day of what tools I have used that have worked to help Michael and not help him. As a parent and parent coach, I make sure to learn from both. I have found generally, that the techniques below work very well for helping guide you and your child through the challenging times:

  1. Look at what led to the behavior: This works every time. When we look back, we will see a pattern. In EIBI Or ABA, they call this ABC’s: Antecedent, Behavior and Consequence. All parents of children with autism know this well. What was child feeling before the behavior? What behavior resulted from it? And what was the consequence for them? A lot of parents unintentionally respond to negative behavior by giving in to the child, yelling themselves, or by calming child down and not letting the child learn to do it. It’s important to see where we fall in this dynamic.
  2. What worked in the past? What haven’t you tried? This is another good one. Sometimes in the heat of the moment as parents it is hard for us to stay calm and focused. Afterwards, we can look back and remember what worked to help the child the last time?  It’s a good idea to write it down so we have it on paper.
  3. Spending quality one on one time  really listening to child: This is a great preventative measure in most cases to challenging behaviors. It doesn’t mean giving in to their every whim to keep them happy, but being present for your child will help them feel more secure, and less likely to engage in troubling behavior. This needs to be done regularly. Enjoy sharing with them an activity that they love. Michael loves to talk or play tag and hide and seek with me.
  4. Keep snacks and water handy: Sometimes challenging behavior can be headed off at the outset if the child is not hungry or thirsty. If they are regularly being kept busy and are fueled with good food, they will be that much more able to get a grip on their emotions.
  5. Getting enough sleep and rest breaks in the day: This is super challenging for busy active kids, but it is important they have periods of activity and rest. Schedule it in advance, and make the rest period fun. Set them up with a favorite book or movie or video. Be nearby to monitor.

Exceptional Parents, what are some of your best tools for helping your Exceptional Children? Remember, the most important one of all is love and unconditional acceptance of them, in good times and bad. This does not mean condoning bad behavior. This means reminding them that they are capable of holding it together and doing right, and of course, encouraging them and praising them when they do get it right. That will also help move everyone to success. Until next time.

Are you looking to make changes in your special needs parenting life in the New Year? Do you need support on your journey?  am a writer and parent coach who is passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparenting.net.

Want to start the New Year off on the right foot with handling anxiety and stress better? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS.

 

 

Keeping the Balance on Holiday with Exceptional Kids

Balance. That is challenging even for us neuro typical people over the holidays. After all, the holidays are all about parties, overeating, sleep and wake schedules altered so forth. Even if you are back at work in between as are many people, there is still the challenges above to contend with. Now, imagine our exceptional kids. Sometimes it’s hard when we are struggling as their parents to adjust. What are the best ways to make the adjustment to the holidays as easy as possible? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Keep same sleep/wake schedule as much as possible: Try to keep the same sleep/wake schedule as much as is possible. This will mean your child and you will be that much more rested to handle things.
  2. Plan out week or two on paper: This really helps our family. We plan out on paper in advance what we will be doing. It helps cut down on the anxiety for Michael and us. Of course plans change so it is a rough schedule and we explain that. At least he has a guide to go with though.
  3. Make sure to have a mix of activity and downtime for all family: Over scheduling is something we used to do as Michael needs to be busy a lot and that would often backfire. Even he needs his downtime particularly as he gets older and I see how anxious he is. Make sure it is clear to child and parents when is down time and when is activity time.
  4.  Keep your sense of humor: Patience parents and laugh at the little things. Kids will be kids and yes being home with them will sometimes magnify little bad habits and you will get annoyed and yell. Remember, they are doing their best. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  5. Enjoy unique family activities done at this time of year-make it a tradition. Maybe it’s a holiday movie with popcorn, maybe a sledding day with lunch out,  maybe it’s caroling or a New Year’s Even party or baking, whatever, enjoy positive family activities that are part of this time of the year.

Exceptional Parents, how do you keep the balance with your Exceptional Kids? Remember, a little bit of rest and a little bit of activity is usually the way to go. Do what feels right for you and your family.  And as hard as this time of the year is, try and enjoy the fun times with family. If your child senses your calm state of mind, they will usually follow suit. Until next time.

Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS

 

 

 

After the Festivities Are Over-5 Ways to Fine Tune And Help With Difficulties

 

As you will all see this post is late today. VERY late. I am in “Christmas Recovery” mode which lasts for two days before we go into “Birthday Recovery Mode” for Michael with which I need another day’s recovery, but that is a separate post. 🙂 Like most families with exceptional kids, the holidays are beautiful and stressful all in one breath. There are the moments you see them sitting quietly and listening and you take a breath in and are able to talk to family. Then, there are the other moments when, well, you look forward to coming home and having that nice glass of wine when they are finally asleep. I had many of both moments throughout the day yesterday. I had my discouraging moments when I was kind of feeling sorry for myself among my family whose children are neuro typical and listen. Then of course, I immediately felt guilty. Guilty due to the fact that Michael, and all kids like him who have autism or are exceptional in some other way, are doing the best that they can. It is not an excuse for rudeness and disrespect. We had a talk yesterday about how he needs to follow the rules, and if he is having a hard time he needs to tell us. I also reminded him, as he knows about his autism, that it is not an excuse to be used to misbehave. We know he is capable of more than what he is doing. We spoke some more this in the am. He is so anxious, has a lot of difficulty regulating himself and friendships are challenging though he is starting to learn how to play and talk with his many good friends.

What did I learn this holiday? Well, every year I look at what our family did right and what we did wrong. I tally them up and keep it in mind for the next year. This year, my mind is in a better place. I not only accept that there will be ups and downs in the next two weeks, but I am using better ways to cope with my own feelings of success and failure as parent. We all have those moments. We are human. What are the ways I fine tune my own thinking for future holidays? Here are 5 of them:

 

  1. Each day I do the best I can with what I have: This is my new mantra. I have moments when I doubt myself and my mothering, but I remind myself what I remind Michael: do the best that you can and go with your instinct.
  2. Get as much sleep as you can or grab a rest here or there: Sleep is essential. The first two days of the holidays I slept a total of 10 hours, never mind the bad sleeping of the nights before leading up to the holidays.What I did instead to make up for it, was grabbing a rest on the couch when Dad was with Michael. He did the same. This morning I felt much better waking up after seven hours of sleep.
  3. Laugh at the silly things: Our kids do SO many silly things. As long as it is not rude, it’s alright t to laugh. Hey, sometimes even the rude things are a little funny like when Michael repeated back to me when I was getting upset, “Mommy, you’re not using your strategies.” Just don’t laugh out loud.
  4. What went right? What could I change? This is where can see what strategies worked in preparing their child for a family visit and which didn’t. Don’t beat yourself up. I learned that arriving near the beginning of my family gatherings at a house is easier on Michael even if he gets bored and we have to leave early. Coming in midway like we did this year was too overwhelming for all of us.
  5. Have a wind down routine after if you need to: Oh yes. Now after two days of celebrating with both our families which is wonderful but exhausting, I make sure to take my glass of wine or spirits (or both) with me and curl up with a good book. It’s my way to unwind from the two days and tell myself, “Girl, you survived and learned what to do and not to do.”

Exceptional Parents, what are your holiday survival techniques? How do you recover alone and as a family? Another great thing is to not be afraid to cry or let out anger in a constructive way. The holidays are not picture perfect for anyone, except in the movies. I also highly recommend popping into online parent support group and attending any in person ones you are a member of in the new year. Comparing notes with others in your shoes will remind you that you are not alone. You and your families are doing the best that you can. Until next time.

am a writer and parent coach at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance.” I am passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparenting.net.

It’s the holidays, one of the most beautiful and crazy times of the year! Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety and stress? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS

 

 

 

Learning to Live in the Moment of Christmas With My Exceptional Son

Each Christmas has posed its own challenges for me as an Exceptional Mom. And every year, I have made the same promise to myself; that I will not get overwhelmed myself, get angry, and feel stressed when I can’t help Michael. I have usually failed in having this success at going with the flow of the holidays for one simple reason;  I was just saying words. The words were lovely in essence, but I wasn’t really practicing what I was preaching; tolerance for things not going exactly according to plan, worries about other member of my family or friends judging my parenting decisions, and my own little girl notions of what a “perfect” family Christmas should be. Heck, even my friends with neuro typical kids don’t experience that perfect a Christmas. But what could I say? I was a perfectionist. Now, I am a realist. I make mistakes with Michael. I make personal mistakes too. But that critical inner voice, the one that used to tell me I was stupid and something was wrong with me is gone. The hard work I started doing years ago has paid off, and though there are still things I am working on to improve in myself, the process is gentle and loving now, as I would do with Michael.

What is different about this year is that I know Christmas won’t be perfect. I don’t want perfection anymore. What I want is the best Christmas I and my family can have within our emotional parameters. I also remind myself what I have always known, but this year due to work and Michael’s exta challenges, I got away from. All cliches aside, Christmas is not about presents, decorations, or parties. It’s about a feeling deep down inside of light, peace, gratitude, helping others and goodness. Whether you celebrate  Christmas, Hanukkah, Qwanza, or the Winter Solstice, it’s really all about the same things; light and love coming into the world. It’s about people coming together to bring this light and remember we are all one people. This year I had to miss two Sundays of Church. I did my Advent prayers and lit the candles once a week, but I did not take a lot of time for God and prayer and contemplation like I had planned in between mass and my quick prayers of thanksgiving in morning and at bedtime. No matter. I will start today on Christmas Eve, get immersed in the beauty of Christmas Eve Mass as usual, and I  will continue for the holiday season and beyond to try and be a light in the world for myself, my family, and  others who cross my path. I will be that light for Michael even when we both struggle with peace inside.

Exceptional Parents, do you know that you are the light of your child’s world? The holidays are a great time to connect to whatever religions or spirituality you believe in, if you are a spiritual person. If not, meditation is a wonderful way to connect to a powerful Source, to nature to the Universe and feel recharged and whole. Take this holiday season to slow down. There is no “one” way to celebrate the holidays, other than finding that light inside of yourself, keeping your loved ones near, and remembering to charge your spirit with love and peace to be the best channel for your child. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza and a Blesssed Winter Solstice. Wishing you and your families Happy and Healthy Holidays. Until next time.

am a writer and parent coach at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance.” I am passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparenting.net

Are you and your exceptional family ready for the holiday season? Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety and stress? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS

How To Plan For A Calm And Peaceful Holiday With Your Exceptional Child

It’s here. The last day of school before Christmas Eve. I am filled with excitement and fear, as I always am at this time of year. I feel excitement for obvious reasons; seeing family, catching up, eating great food, opening presents. Fear is something only other families of exceptional children will understand. It’s the fear of the new routine, and how it will affect Michael and our family. It is the fear of increased tantrums and meltdowns, Michael’s and ours, as we try to make the holiday a peaceful and happy one for the most part. My expectations for Michael are different than when he was a baby. My own expectations about the holiday are different too as are Dad’s. We just want peace. Not perfection. We just want to make it through the day without battles, crying and feeling overwhelmed. We know this is hard. Someone with autism has challenges in a regular routine in our crazy world. Throw in a holiday that lasts two weeks without the same structure and well, you need to expect some chaos. It’s how you manage the chaos as a parent. I can never get used to the fact that the happiest times of the year for other people are the hardest ones for families whose children have exceptional challenges.

Dad and I have had our good days managing our emotions around Michael’s behaviors and our bad days. This week has been a mix of both. It is with caution this year that we are embarking on Christmas. We spoke earlier this morning about what has to change in our household, with Michael, and with how we individually handle our own emotions. The time of year is difficult too with the shorter darker days.  All I know is what I don’t want to do. I love my child, but the last month it has been hard to like him. There I said it. Dad feels this way too. When he tests and fights us on everything it is draining and frustrating. I count down the minutes till bedtime when I can have an hour or two of peace and pray for strength to be there for him in the morning. It is not how I want to go into Christmas, but there you have it. I know Michael has entered puberty and is trying out new things. He’s seeing how far he can push. As parents, we need to remain strong, united. Most of the time we are , but we are only human and have our moments when we fail Michael and ourselves. We get up, dust ourselves off, and start again.

Exceptional Parents, what are you planning to do to have a calm and peaceful holiday? Are you visiting relatives or staying in? Are they coming to you? Remember, whatever you decide to do, make sure it will bring you and your family peace overall. You need to think of the whole picture of the holiday and what will make your child, and other children as well as you and your partner, happy and content. There are no perfect families and holiday scenarios even in neuro typical families. Don’t strive for that. Strive instead to be true to yourself and your family, and do what will give everyone happiness and health and balance. Happy Holidays! Until next time.

Joanne Giacomini is a writer, speaker and parent coach at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance” www.exceptionalparenting.net. She also blogs on her personal blog, “Exceptional Mom/Exceptional Child” at www.exceptionalmomchild. com,  about how her son with autism is raising her! She writes regularly about parenting and autism at “M List,” as “Montreal Autism Mom”, “The West Island Suburban’s “Parenting 101 bloggers,” and “Huff Post Parents Canada”. Her posts on parenting and autism have been featured on “BlogHer Family-Special Needs”, ”Her View From Home”,  “Romper”, “Yummy Mummy Club Canada, as well as “Scary Mommy.” She also writes for “The Things”,“Baby Gaga” and “The Talko.”You can follow Joanne on Twitter @exceptmomchild.

One of the hardest and most stressful times of the year for special needs families is fast approaching. Are you and your exceptional family ready? Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS

Family Traditions and Handling Holiday Decorating The Autism Way

 

So we got our Christmas tree up this afternoon, and I have to say, it was the best year yet for getting the decorating done. Why? I think Dad and I were organized with having the decorations brought upstairs in advance, Dad put the tree and lights on the tree up when Michael and I were at one of his extra curricular activities, and I am letting things be this year. I did not push Michael’s musical choice in putting up the tree (pop and hip hop music not our usual Christmas music) as that is what he was comfortable with, and as he was really interested in decorating the tree and surrounding areas, I let him take the lead. Control is so important for Michael, and having a say in some things matter a lot. He did learn to follow my lead and cooperate, and everything went really smoothly. He even was interested in putting up the manger which was a nice surprise for me as he is struggling with God and faith. He believes on some level I know, but still refuses to go to church with me.

I paid special attention to planning out our holiday decorating after an extremely challenging five days at home with lots of physical and mental challenges for him and I. What a relief to have a relatively calm day (with some challenges but manageable) today. As I’ve mentioned before, and will mention again, December is an extremely difficult month for families with  exceptional children. The parties, the crazy schedules, the togetherness of people makes it harder for our kids, at at time when everyone else is celebrating and having fun. Heck, it’s even crazy for some neuro typical people. 🙂 It used to break my heart to watch Michael suffering at my favorite time of year, and not being able to share that joy with me. All he saw was that his normal routine of school and friends was interrupted. He even slept differently though we kept to his usual routine. As he gets older, it gets easier as he understands the season of Christmas with gifts, good food, family gathering, and even good deeds, which we continue to talk about along with celebrating Jesus’ birthday which we talk about due to being Christians. But the anxiety over the unpredictability is still there. We do our best to make sure he gets down time, and some structure with outings to offset the rest of the lack of structure.

What I would suggest to other Exceptional parents struggling out there, is to have a set routine all the same for your Exceptional Children around the parties. Make sure you bring their sensory toys with you everywhere so they have downtime with them, and talk in advance about large family or friend gatherings so that they are not so overwhelmed. Make sure they have a “safe room” to retreat to if they get overwhelmed, or that family and friends know if advance you and your family may have to leave the party in advance. As they get older, it gets better and they can communicate to you their feelings too. Also, don’t have big expectations. That’s not to say that you should not believe your children capable of participating in events, but do it according to what makes them comfortable. Do it “autism style.” I have learned that the more I stop trying to put pressure that our family be like a neuto typical family when I’m around mine or my partner’s neuro typcial family, the easier the holidays get. We are a special needs family, and we’re fine thanks. We may struggle a little bit more, but we have our community and people who “get us” and are even lucky our own family (at least most of them) get us. We have our “village” as one close friend called it, and beyond.

Exceptional Parents, how do you and your Exceptional family handle the holidays? What tips do you use to make things run more smoothly? Remember, go with your child’s flow, don’t feel pressured to do and be with everyone during the holiday season at the expense of yours and your Exceptional family’s health, and watch your child adapt and bloom. Good luck with your holiday decorating and preparations. Until next time.

One of the hardest and most stressful times of the year for special needs families is fast approaching. Are you and your exceptional family ready? Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS