Category: communication

Summer Camp, Independence and How My Exceptional Son Is Coming Into His Own

This has truly been a summer of growth for Michael, both in terms of his physical growth, puberty and his emotional maturity with the outside world, and even with us.  Michael is not only managing his diabetes, he is doing his own injections and getting it done properly for the most part. Michael is not only responsible to be left alone at home for longer periods of time, but he enjoys that we trust him and behaves in a calm way. And finally, Michael is attending summer camp this year without a shadow and doing extremely well. It’s been amazing to witness his growth in these areas, and though he is struggling emotionally in others, I keep reminding myself of his potential and showing him what he is capable of when he believes in himself and in his abilities.

All our kids have their strengths. As parents, it’s important, including when they are struggling in some areas of their life, to look for the areas they are excelling in. It is also important we remind them of their successes in said areas and how proud we are of them. A lot of exceptional kids with anxiety don’t have a lot of confidence in themselves. The lack of confidence does not only come out in crying, panic attacks, but sometimes as rudeness or anger. They feel they have to control everything, and if one thing goes out of whack, their world goes out of whack for a time being. If we as parents show them their strengths and praise them for it acknowledging how far they’ve come, this will help them go a long way towards learning to love themselves.

Michael, being a Jekyl and Hide Kid, is one way at home and one way in society. He does very well in society, managing his emotions well, but at home will unleash in anger and frustration or anxiety. My heart breaks for him, as I know he is still developing the tools to cope with his emotions while handling puberty in a brain that is not mainstream and with Type 1 Diabetes. He does a great job most of the time, and when he messes up, it’s getting him to learn from the experience and move forward. What has impressed me, is that even when he loses himself in anger or frustration momentarily, he is able to circle back and see where he went wrong. He is learning his triggers, both what over excites and over frustrates him, and he is learning how his health affects his overall attitude at home and in society.

I for one am just trying to give him as much control as possible in decision making, and be there if he needs me to steer him in a better direction. But when I see him out in the world, I see a calm, steady young man who is learning who he is and what he wants. This gives me great hope that he will master this quality at home, and see that he can handle the emotional ups and downs of life without pushing things down. Of course, there are still boundaries. That is important for all children in order to grow in a healthy manner.

Exceptional Parents, what moments of pride do you have when you look at your Exceptional Children? Just remember, remind them of their successes. Put it on a sheet of paper if necessary. When it is writing, as they say it is a permanent reminder of where they are and where they are going. Until next time.

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Needing To Be Seen-How To Recognize Your Exceptional Child’s Desire To Be Loved

Today while cleaning up some of Michael’s school paperwork, I came across two things that struck me deep to the core. One of them was a piece of school work where Michael described his fear of a situation, and how once he conquered it with my help, he felt better about it and himself. The second one was a letter I had made him write to the coordinator of a swim program he was in a while ago after he had had a meltdown and we’d had to leave without him having his swim lesson that one time.  It had been an embarrassing afternoon for him and I, and though I wished I’d handled it better when in the locker room, I was proud that I’d at least made him write an apology letter. He had misplaced the letter, and had instead apologized in person at the next lesson, but seeing the evidence over three years later brought tears to my eyes. Michael had come so far since then in understanding himself, and in understanding others. And even back then, he tried so hard. He is a child that never gives up on himself, and this reminds me to never give up on him.

It was great for me to see his growth both in school and with me, through coming across these documents. Sometimes, time seems to stand still and I wonder if Michael is understanding the world better around him. Sometimes I wonder if I too am learning from my mistakes. Both these sheets of paper also helped me see that while my child is learning about the world around him, I too am seeing the mother and person I used to be and the fears I had, and changing those fears into being more proactive and using gentle self-talk where I learn from my mistakes. Yes, I still have moments when I slip up as a Mom. Don’t we all, Moms? Michael has moments when he slips up too, as do all children. Sometimes he will endearingly say, “oops, that was wrong.” Other times it takes time before he learns. He’ll ask for help. Then, there are the times he takes control of the wheel of his life, and boom he’s off learning to be more independent, resilient and positive.

I have those moments too. I am not that Mom I was three years ago. I have learned from the mistakes she made. I also send her hugs and healing energy for the anger and impatience and times she felt she was not strong enough to handle a spirited, neuro diverse kid who did not see the world like her and never would. That’s a good thing. He has taught her to heal the part of herself that she thought was wrong, weak and different in a bad way. They were not and are not, of course! None of these things were true. This Mom though still has moments when she needs to retreat and regroup, just as her son does. That’s ok. She’s human. She learns. She heals. She grows. What I have learned from my old Mom self is that compassion and forgiveness of myself and others go hand in hand. I have also learned not to take things and people too seriously. We all have moments we wish we could take back. Instead, we need to learn from them and grow.

Exceptional Parents, do you sometimes forget to recognize your Exceptional Child’s accomplishments in the midst of navigating helping them through their weak areas? It is normal to tackle and prioritize the difficult areas first. As long as we eventually return to a balanced look at our child, what they are doing right, and what they are having difficulty with, we are seeing the whole child equally, and can then help them be the best they can be. Until next time.

Different Environment, Different Exceptional Child-Where Is The Real One?

Tonight while looking for something else in my email I came across a summary report of Michael’s progress in a group he participated in run by some OT students at his school. There were things in there  I clearly agreed with and those that surprised me, as I have seen Michael surpass so many obstacles since the writing of this report. It was hard to read those parts, for though I believed that he did demonstrate those weaknesses in a therapy group setting, the report was probably written a few months ago. He is now on a better medication to help with his ADHD, and he has grown up a lot this summer.

Michael is also one way at school, and another way at home. At school he will push down his anger and not lash out. At home he does not hold back. At school, he will follow the class routine, at home we would have huge fights about this and sometimes still do, though I have to say it is getting better. Why? I am learning to see that Michael is not the kid we see at school nor the kid he is at home. He falls somewhere in between, and finding out who he really is and understanding how his brain works is a wonderful labyrinth that I have to have the patience to figure out. We compromise on certain things with him and insist he follow a routine on others. This has started working for us at home.

I sometimes feel overwhelmed as a parent as I’m sure all parents are. Am I doing enough to encourage him with activities? Am I making the right decision with medication? Half the activities in this report he no longer has interest in, He is also going through a phase now of not wanting to do sports with me or go to parks. He does like to go on bike rides and take long walks though which makes me happy as he is out in society and exercising. As I mentioned before, he is pulling away from crowds, people, and becoming a little more introverted. We are questioning if the same medicine that has made organizing himself in the am and pm so much better, responsible for socially shy behavior. This  has never been the Michael I knew at home prior to puberty or medication. He always loved people.

As Exceptional Parents, we tend to ask ourselves questions such as those a lot more than many other parents, I think. We worry have we done the right therapies and gotten our child the best support. Have we caused damage to them? How can we bring out our child’s true character if we do not feel we are seeing it already? Sitting here tonight as I write this, I realize there are no easy answers. A child is not a machine. One size does not fit all. I think the answer of who our children are are a mix of what we see and don’t see. We need to go with the flow, help encourage them with a mix of all kinds of activities that they enjoy, and give them a chance to show us their true character as they get older. We need to stop worrying so much. As Moms it is natural though, isn’t it? They will show us what they need, and no matter how many expert people help our child including us, in the end they are the people who know themselves best and they will know what they need.

Exceptional Parents, do you ever feel frustrated trying to help figure out who your Exceptional Child is? Take a deep breath. Time will show you. As long as you believe in them, they will learn to believe in themselves too. Then, you will see them bloom in the world. 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.

How We Can All Learn Determination From Our Exceptional Children

So there we were this evening biking on Michael’s favorite busy street. We stopped a few times for breaks and so Michael can watch the traffic. He loves cars and moving traffic. He would clap his hands and watch, then clap some more. That is his “traffic stim.”  When we moved on after the third little break, I noticed that one of his tires on his bike had gone a little flat. It was not completely flat, but was losing air so bike riding would be more difficult.

“Michael, your tire is losing air and it will be a little more challenging to go to the next block like we had planned. Do you want to try and you can partially walk the bike or do we head home?”
Michael looked me straight in the eye and said, “I want to do it. I don’t mind if I have to walk a bit with the bike. I want to do the route we planned.”
I was so proud of his determination to finish what he started and pretty much knew this was what he was going to say. I only warned him as I was worried he may get discouraged when the bike riding got harder. However, I had forgotten for a second who I was dealing with, a child who never gives up, perseveres and pushes through to get what he wants, difficult or not.

“Ok honey. We’ll do it. ”

Several times during the bike ride when we would stop Michael would ask me if I was proud of him. I also said extremely. I saw the smile he would give me. I think he knew my answer would be yes. I would be crazy not to be proud of the child who from birth fought to be born through a series of difficulties, then fought to catch up on the milestones and did it, then fought to learn strategies to overcome anger and anxiety and still continue to fight to figure this out. This is a hard challenge. AND finally, fight to master learning how to manage a chronic life long disease of Type 1 Diabetes. I sometimes forget through the exhaustion of parenting, just how tough, resilient and spirited Michael is. He does not give up. He does not take no for an answer, which can be a drag as a parent when you want your child to listen, but heck, I know he’ll do fine making his way in the world one day because of his attitude of not giving up what he is going after.

This got me thinking about what Michael is here to teach me, like all our children are here to teach all of us. He is here to show me to never give up. He is here to show me not to give up on my dreams no matter how challenging it is to make it happen. He is here to remind me to fight for who and what I believe in always. He is here to remind me that love conquers all.

Exceptional Parents, what has your Exceptional Child’s determination showed you? I’m sure it has reminded you that no matter what , you can get through anything, just like your child has. You advocate for them they advocate for you as well, and help you be the best person you can be. Never never give up. Until next time.

Communicating Feelings Properly With Your Exceptional Child

It is not easy being an exceptional parent or an exceptional child. Michael and I both have our challenges with figuring out how to express ourselves honestly, asking the other family member for space, and with believing in each other from time to time. Yep, that last one is a tough cookie. You see, Michael is in the middle of major teen rebellion, angst and general confusion.  There could be other things going on too which we are not ruling out, but the thing is, he is super hard to talk to him these days without one or both of us getting frustrated. I feel like he jumps at everything I say, and he feels the same apparently. Just before dinner, I’d finally had enough with the way he answered me and told him this was exhausting for me, to which he answered;

“Mommy, I can’t be like you were when you were young. I’m doing my best. I have a hard time controlling what I say sometimes. I’m sorry.”

My heart hurt and I felt so bad. Yes, he is not neuro typical so of course is more touchy, anxious and angers more easily. I know this and try to understand, but I have my limits some days, and I see that he is also not trying to use new strategies to handle old problems. When I have told him this, he will agree, but say he does not know where to start.

“Then we can brainstorm together. I’ll show you what information we have from your team and we’ll go from there. Daddy and I believe in you, everyone believes in you, but you need to believe in yourself to succeed.”
“You do believe in me? Ok Mommy, I will take time before bed to look at the notes and strategies and try to make those changes. It will take me time though. It’s hard.”
“I know Michael, but each day it will get easier. And I am always here to help.”
“Then how come when I talk to you you are always busy?”
“If you start talking to me when I am cooking, driving or doing another errand, it needs to be something quick as my concentration is on that first task. If it is something important though, tell me. I will put aside what I am doing then if I can, or set a time aside to listen to you very soon.”
“Oh ok. I will.”
Communication is key with exceptional kids. There are many like Michael who can talk about a storm, but misunderstandings ensue because of how they hear what you are saying, if they are anxious, tired, frustrated. As parents, we too sometimes feel exhausted and frustrated as I did today, and don’t hear them out as well as we’d like to. When there are challenging behaviors to boot, it makes it all very complicated. Still, when Michael expressed how he does not feel heard by me, I felt bad as there were times I could have been more clear to him about what was a good or bad time to talk. I also somehow gave him the impression that I don’t want to listen to him or am deliberately misunderstanding him. I quickly corrected that and made a point the rest of the evening to tell him about the good things he did, and how I enjoyed things like our mother/son bike ride early this morning and our mother/son walk up at the park in the evening and a drive we took together mid day. He is so smart and has so much to offer, but when communication lines get crossed it is challenging.

Exceptional Parents, how do you make sure you are communicating effectively with your Exceptional Child? Remember, really listen to them when you can directly, and if it is not a good time to talk, tell them and set aside a time. They will sometimes misunderstand our tiredness for lack of interest or frustration, when really it is bad timing. This is the neuro diverse brain, nothing else. Don’t be afraid to tell your child when they have overstepped your boundaries, but be gentle and direct. Make sure to spend quality positive time with your child doing a favorite activity that leaves good memories, and don’t be afraid to be specific about what you expect in return. Until next time.

Helping Your Exceptional Child Balance Structured and Unstructured Time

Having Michael fill his time schedule with structured and unstructured activities has always been a challenge, though when he was younger at least filling it with structured activities was easier. Why? Well, that was because as his Mom, I set the schedule of naps, meals, parks, play dates etc. As he got older, however, Michael understandably began demanding more activities that he wanted and that sometimes compromised my time more, like long drives or going to certain stores and only to the departments where he liked to go, ie. toy departments, and later to play on the IPADS or phones.

Unstructured time has always been difficult in our house. Michael never wanted to be home. He liked to be on the go all the time. I remember the summer when he was little that his boundless energy had me taking him to 4 parks a day, as with me not working camps were out of the question, and he was a little young anyhow. Well, that was the last summer I did that. It wore me out, he got bored, and when friends were not available, he did not know how to keep himself busy. He was never a kid that could watch movies, and even playing video games is challenging. His attention span for them is about five to ten minutes, though at school with friends he could play for a little longer.

Now fast forward to eight years later and we have the opposite problem almost. Unstructured time he adores! As long as he could spend it on his phone navigating Google Maps, watching his favorite videos or listening to music and stimming  to his heart’s content. I get it. This is his downtime, and I love it too as I get time to do things in the house or write. He could do that for hours on end which is not healthy. This is why I have continued to insist we do structured sports or other activities out of the house to make sure he does not become a typical teenager totally absorbed in the audio visual world. He was annoyed, but cooperated. After he got diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and puberty hit full steam, he also expressed less interests in playing in parks and going to stores, unless it was a store to look in the computer department. 🙂 I know this is a normal part of being a tween and soon teen, but sports is a great outlet to burn stress, so slowly I am trying to get him back into park outings.

Fortunately, he is willing to go to sports camp for a chunk of the summer, and he is starting to become receptive to doing other types of mother/son activities when he is home with me like long bike rides or walks. For our family vacation we are staying in town again this year as it is economically feasible, and I hope to get him a little more out of his shell with some structured and unstructured activities on our stay cation. In the end, it’s really about knowing your child’s limits and pushing a little more past that, as well as knowing when to let them take the reigns. On that note, what are some good ways to structure and un structure your child’s summer?

1) Give them choice for their unstructured time, when to schedule it in summer or on weekends during the school year.

2) Expose them to different structured extracurricular activities and have them choose 1 of 2 activities to practice.

3) Invite friends over or try a new place with a friend on a play date.

4) Have simple family activities that get them moving-bike rides, long walks, outings to stores or malls.

5) Negotiating- one hour of an outing for an hour of A/V time. Make sure they understand why you are encouraging them to go out in society. It is a great way to practice social skills and appropriate social behavior.

Exceptional Parents, how do you manage to balance your Exceptional Child’s structured and unstructured time? Do you give them some choice, all the choice, or choose it all yourself? As you have probably guessed, the best advice is a balance of following your child’s lead in what they want to do as well as giving them small nudges to participate in different activities. You will most likely get the best balance this way. Until next time.

How To Communicate In A Way To Foster Calmness and Control To Your Exceptional Child

“Mommy, don’t yell. I get more nervous when you raise your voice. When kids at school lose it, the Behavior Techs don’t yell.”

This was what Michael said to me this evening after a misunderstanding with Dad had his anger escalating and I had to half pull/half talk him into another room to calm down. He was no where near receptive to showing me his signal that his anger and anxiety were escalating and I knew what would have happened if he’d stayed in the room with Dad. It had happened with me in the past too, and if he was not redirected somewhere to calm down, he would get aggressive and either hit something, hit someone or throw something. After wards, like five minutes later, he would show remorse, and I or Dad would berate ourselves for not zoning in quicker when he had started escalating to help him de-escalate somewhere and possibly salvage a meltdown. Tonight, it was success on that front.

“Yes, Michael your school Behavior Techs are calm. They have the support of other adults and it is easier when you have support. I was alone as you were mad at Daddy and the same has happened when you were mad at me and Daddy had to take over to help you. Daddy and I are learning to use our strategies too, but sometimes we forget and yell. Thanks for the reminder.”

It was an eye opening experience for me. We talked for a little more, and I reminded him about using his signal to tell us that he needed to go and chill out RIGHT AWAY. He had said he was too angry to go and thanked me for helping him. I reminded him that he was right, and that the next time, he needed to go as soon as he felt his anger building. Michael nodded and agreed. He then went for his shower and completed his bedtime routine with no more issues. He apologized to Dad too.

Each time we have a positive or negative experience as a family I remind myself that it is all about learning how to keep doing what works and refrain from doing what does not. I also have learned, especially as Michael gets older and hormones make more unpredictable mood swings, how important it is for Dad and I to be the calm and control examples, including when we are seeing red on the inside. The same tips apply to us. Be aware of our anger. Be aware of our anxiety. Be aware of our escalating emotions. AND put the strategies that work for us in place so that we can show an example to Michael of what being gentle and forgiving of ourselves and others is like. We are getting there as a family. We have come a long way.

There is such insight in how Michael talks to us now. Even when anxious or angry, he is realizing how he alone can control his thoughts, impulses, emotions for better or worse. He relishes the moments he gets it right, and we are making sure to heap praise on him when he does, as well as show him we trust him to do other things only big boys do. (more on that tomorrow).  When he gets it wrong, he also admits, expresses regret, but adds,
“I am getting better. This is not as hard as I thought. I can do this.” Dad and I agree, and remind him of his potential.

Exceptional Parents, how often have you remained calm and in control when having a disagreement with your child? Have you had moments you wish you could take back? We all have at one time or another so don’t feel bad if you are in that category. The thing to remember is to learn from the experience, teach your child to learn from their mistakes as well, and no matter what, stay calm, focused, and in the present so the matter could be resolved as easily as possible. Until next time.

Seeing The Other Side-How To Talk So Your Exceptional Child Understands You

Being the parent of an exceptional child changes you. Heck, being a parent changes you, as you have to remember to talk to your child in a way that reaches them and helps them know you get them. When you have a child whose brain works differently than yours though, the challenge is even greater. Michael’s brain is affected by everything that makes him who he is-autism, ADHD, anxiety, and Type 1 Diabetes. All of these physical and mental things make up how he sees the world, how his brain organizes his reality, and as I’ve seen many times, how this reality is not always the same reality it is for me.

We have had many misunderstandings with one another when I would think he was not listening to me, he was purposely being defiant, and he was not listening. As he grew older and I learned more about neuro diversity and different brains, I began to see how much of what I thought was deliberate was not. He would often not understand where I was coming from, and even with a pretty perfect vocabulary and very good conversation skills, receptive language would still be a challenge. I began seeing how I could make myself more clear and see things from his perspective. I also began talking to him about seeing things from my side, and reminding him that we don’t all think alike, so compromise needs to be something to strive for. Discussing a stressful upcoming event is something I’ve had to learn to do with extreme patience. He will often ask the same question over and over. I used to blow up, as my patience would wear think, and then I would feel terrible. I would see that his anxiety is just too high and his ability to self-regulate is still developing so moving forward was high.

Once I learned how to use my own STOP analogy, that is stop and think before speaking, I eliminated a lot more escalation of fear and anxiety on Michael’s and my end. With autism there needs to be a lot of repetition for Michael to remember things sometimes and put his mind at ease. I devised ways such as schedules on paper or the computer to explain things to him. I also would write social stories or ask our team to help me right good social stories that would explain things more simply. Michael has always been a child so eager to learn and move forward, that this has not been too difficult a process.

As parents it is hard. We need to keep in mind that executive function and any kind of organization skills take extra time for our kids to master. That means we’ve got to extra patient when waiting for an answer from them, waiting for them to move to the next activity, and when frustration builds up more easily than with other kids, remember that it is not their fault or ours. It is two different brains viewing the same problem. As the adult and the one who can set the example, it is up to us to pause, take a deep breath, and redirect our child’s frustration and try and see why they are upset and how the two of you can put your heads together and fix it calmly. That has been the hallmark of success with Michael. When I have stayed calm, or at least as calm as possible, I have come up with great solutions to help Michael is even better, he has found the solutions to the problem. It is a humbling affair raising a little person, but there is so much our exceptional kids teach us. Don’t shy away from the lesson. You won’t be sorry you did.

Exceptional Parents, how often have you been able to put yourself in your Exceptional Child’s shoes? It’s not always easy, but as long as you take the time to see them as trying their very best even when they are failing in that moment, show compassion as you would for yourself, you will start to build a whole new rapport with your exceptional child. They will sense you trying to bridge the gap and meet them halfway. Until next time.

Report Cards and Seeing The Exceptional Child That Shines Within

Today was the last Parent/Teacher interview at Michael’s school. As usual, it was bittersweet for me. Another year gone by. More growth and opportunities to learn new things, other areas where there were challenges, but the wonderful staff at his adapted school is addressing them. Also, as always, I was able to troubleshoot and brain storm with them new ways to support him at home, now particularly with his severe anxiety which sometimes manifests itself as aggression at home.

For me it was hard too to see how his anxiety is limiting him in class. My anxiety limited me for years, but not having other challenges, I was able to perform academically and learn with much more ease. Michael, though bright, gets sidetracked easily and worries over things and needs constant redirection. This distraction causes him to lose focus in the classroom and affects his learning. His school is working with him on it, but though I vowed to keep in mind that he is in the best program he is meant to be in and not to push staff, the Mommy tiger in me was disappointed that many peers in his class moved into the modified high school program and Michael was not ready. I felt sad, as I know though academically he would struggle, socially he would benefit a lot in that circle. The hard on myself Mom part questioned the fact that maybe it was me who was at fault. Maybe I didn’t teach him self-soothing/regulating strategies young enough.

While speaking to the professionals, I made sure to say that I knew he would continue in the same academic stream he was in and that was good, as due to his anxiety levels now, he was certainly not ready at this time for other challenges. I truly believed this and agreed with their decision. But I took the plunge and asked if in the future they thought there may be a chance for him in a more academic intense program where there are more pressures? I feel bad as I did not want to sound like I was putting down the program he is in. It is excellent and where he needs to be, at least now. I added only that I think he is capable of  more, and I don’t want his anxiety holding him back. I am scared it is holding him back. Everyone reassured me they understood and knew where I was coming from. They were impressed I was willing to give a little push to him. I was glad, as pushing a little bit can yield great results.

I left the meeting in the end feeling both happy and angry with myself. I berated myself a little for not leaving well enough alone, but I needed to know what was holding Michael back, though deep down I already knew the answer. As a parent, we all want to do everything we can to ensure our child is in the best place they can be to learn, grow and develop. There is nothing wrong with asking questions, but sometimes we worry on how we will be perceived. The best results are gained when parents and professionals look honestly at where the child is and go from there. And as one of the staff told me, pushing your child and asking questions is your right as the parent. You want to make sure your child is where they are meant to be.

Exceptional Parents, do you worry about your Exceptional Child’s future? It is very normal. The most important thing to do though, is to always keep an open mind about where your child is now, and where they are headed. A lot can change, and remember , don’t try and fit your child into what you want for them. Aim for whatever helps them the most to develop to their fullest potential. I know in my case, Michael is in good hands with family and his school as we keep the lines of communication open. Until next time.