Category: diabetes acceptance

Be Careful What You Wish For-How To Handle Supporting And Redirecting Your Anxious Exceptional Child

Happy New Year! Well, the holidays have come and gone. There were ups and downs as usual, as in any exceptional family really. What stood out as highs-Michael’s increasing independence in handling his diabetes, trying to organize his time with audio visual, calls to friends, and video games which he put in his phone calendar and his 13th birthday party where he hung out with friends in typical teen fashion while the parents chit chatted. Our family visits went well too, and Michael had a play date in there as well.

He had also been steadily giving Dad and I personal and couple space. These steps made us feel proud of his progress. Lows were increasing anxiety and anger when things did not go as he planned, such as outings having to be postponed due to inclement weather, Dad or I not being able to give him a direct answer and asking for time to think on it, and finally his anxiety reaching a peak point that he needed to be around me all too much.

First off, let me say that I am so grateful that Michael can communicate with us and tell us how he feels. It has helped him overcome a lot of obstacles and I wouldn’t change having him be expressive for anything in the world. However, he will sometimes have a hard time letting go of things and need to talk them through. This is anxiety provoking for all of us. Before the holidays and even at the very beginning, he was actually still quite independent and giving me my personal space. I was worried though how he didn’t want to talk or interact much with me.

Be careful what you wish for parents. The Universe delivered BIG TIME mid to late holiday season when he had a hard time being alone, filling up space in his day, and would complain when I did my yoga, went to write, went out with a friend. It felt suffocating for me  while I was also worried about his anxiety. Old tools I used were not working. I helped Michael trust himself to find new tools that could work to calm him down so that when he and I took our time together, we could talk calmly.

How did I now keep myself calm and help Michael through his anxiety? Well, for starters I took lots of mini breaks in the day and gently reminded Michael how I needed them- my half hour of meditation and coffee in the morning before joining him at breakfast, my writing at certain times of the day, my yoga or taking a nature walk. Michael complained about all the breaks I was taking. I told him it was to help me stay calm and positive so I could enjoy my holiday happily and help him do the same .

The experience helped me learn how important it is to prepare older exceptional kids for the holidays like we do younger ones. The issues are different, yet some things remain the same. How to structure the down time while leaving some time for spontaneous activities, how to make sure kids are still sleeping and eating well which affects mood. This was doubly hard as with Michael’s diabetes no matter how much we controlled, his sugars were still through the roof high which do not help with anger and outbursts. I also learned how to enjoy the little moments that did go well and not let the stressful times spoil the day. Be realistic with what your child and family can handle and don’t push the envelope at family gatherings, play dates or other activities.

At the end of the holiday, in spite of the challenges, Michael reported that he had a good holiday. His return to school went well, and now we are all slowly getting back in routine.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle anxiety with your Exceptional Child? Remember, as long as you keep an open mind with your child, stay calm, ask for a break (or take it) when you need it, you will be able to show a good example of how to handle the ups and downs of family down time and help your child find tools that work for them. Until next time.

Remembering Back, Looking Forward-How Our Exceptional Kids Teach Us About Resilience

Two years ago. Two years ago today I was in the emergency room of our local children’s hospital listening to one of the doctors telling me that he was pretty sure Michael had Type 1 Diabetes. They were running blood tests while Michael was hooked up to IV’s which were hydrating him. I stared disbelievingly at the doctor and heard my voice saying out loud;

“That’s good you want to rule that out. I don’t think it’s that. It’s probably something with his appendix.”

Denial is strong when we are frightened and don’t know the symptoms of a illness or disease. Dad and I did not know that with diabetes kids lose weight, drink a lot more, are tired. Michael was all of the above that summer, and I blamed it on a very tough year with intense behaviors at home. I did not know the signs.  Of course not even five minutes later the tests came back positive for Type 1 Diabetes. Dad and I were in shock. How was this possible? No one in our families had it. Would our little boy be ok? How would we handle this and his other challenges? How would Michael handle all of this?

As always, Michael surprised us. I remember thinking this poor kid who hated needles and loved to eat would now have to have four needle injections a day and he would have to learn to carb count all the carbohydrates in all the foods he ate in a day. He not only mastered taking his blood sugar and now giving himself needles, but he has learned how to manage his food intake. I don’t know why I was surprised. He was a fighter from the womb, and once out of the womb he continued amazing me. Still, I thought this would be enough for me to handle, a neuro typical woman who hated the idea of needles too. Michael took to everything with an ease even I didn’t have right away. He was and is my hero.

Two years ago today as Dad and I watched our little boy hooked up to so many wires to rebuild his body which had been shutting down, we both prayed and thanked God we got him to the hospital on time. I read everything I could find on Type 1 Diabetes, the same thing I did with autism and ADHD. We saw so many doctors, nurses, and a social worker who informed us about diabetes. We got articles, training and little breaks where we were told to go get a coffee as Michael healed. I remember thinking, how will we get through this as a family? How will we help Michael move forward? My joy was the day he asked to eat. I knew he was getting better.

We were trained on how to do the injections, and then sent home. That first year was all about trial and error as we all learned to put diabetes around our life, not the other way around, as our endochrinologist told us. I remember Michael taking so naturally to testing his blood sugar. I remember Michael remembering to take his supplies everywhere we went. We took sugar and did injections in parks, malls, restaurants, and at people’s houses. He would look at us and say, “This is not hard. It’s ok.” I was and am constantly amazed by his good-natured calm approach to his diabetes. Yes, there were the times my heart broke, like when he said he wishes he could eat unlimited quantities of things like his friends who don’t have diabetes. He wishes he didn’t have to worry about sugars and carbs. But, he always ended the conversations with, “this is not so bad.”

I don’t know where he got that resilience. Sure, Dad and I have taught him not to give up and to keep trying, but I firmly believe he was a fighter from utero onward. He has always been easy going, friendly and willing to try again. Each day I learn more about strength, resilience and positivity from Michael than I do from anyone else. He is my star and even when he drives me crazy which he frequently does now as a tween, 😉  I love the life lessons he teaches me and makes me realize I still need to learn. A chronic condition is not the end of life. It is a new way to live life, and it is the way we view it that determines how successful we will be in managing our quality of life.

Exceptional Parents, when have your Exceptional Children showed you their resilience and reminded you to never stop believing in yourself? Most of them show us this every day in how they tackles obstacles, stress, and the world around them. When you catch yourself losing patience with your child, remember. They are here to teach you as much as you are here to teach them. 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.

 

 

Exceptional Handling of Life’s Challenges-How My Exceptional Son And I Learn From Eachother

“Mommy, you don’t have to call the nurse to tell her to do my lunchtime injection. The needle on my pen is too tight. Here, let me replace it and the NPH pen will work.”

These were the words that came out of Michael’s mouth on Tuesday morning when we were on our usual race against the clock to do his two diabetes injections, so he does not need to do a lunchtime injection, have him eat his breakfast, get dressed and make the bus. He’d gotten a later start that morning and was his usual talkative self IN SPITE of the fact that we had about ten less minutes than usual. I, remaining calm on the outside, was a little stressed on the inside, and when stressed on the inside, my technical dexterity is the first thing to go. Hence, me thinking this injection pen had malfunctioned when it had not. It had happened legitimately in the past, so I wasn’t totally crazy. Still, something told me to trust him, oh yeah, it was the voice that said, Michael is cool with handling his diabetes, way cooler than you. You worry a lot about this and tense up. Well, as you can imagine I was right to listen to that voice. Michael fixed the pen, I gave him his two injections as usual, and away we went with the morning. What did this incident teach me? I need to be able to tune into Michael’s strong areas and grow stronger in my weaker areas.

Diabetes is something I have come to expect is part of Michael’s and our life. I kind of had no choice, but I don’t like it. Not one bit. I also am someone who is a tad squeamish about blood, needles, (giving needles and seeing them given), and argh, there is all that number crunching when calculating carbs at every meal. As a word person, numbers is SO not my thing. 🙂 This is my challenge as a parent and individual, and though I have risen to it, it has been tough. Michael, on the other hand, has excelled in handling his diabetes. It has been implementing new ways to handle emotions, deal with ADHD and anxiety that have been his more challenging areas. He has often turned to me for support with that part of his life, and here I can advise him. I have seen tremendous improvements in how he handles his emotions and responses to them. I’d like to think just like him watching him calmly take charge of diabetes management, he can see me calmly taking charge of showing him how to manage his emotional regulation. He has often asked me, “Help me Mommy. What do I do?” Over time, we have found ways to help him manage his emotions. There is still a lot of tweaking involved, on his and my part, but I can see him listening, really listening to what I have to say and following through with it. I have done the same thing when he has taken the wheel and showed his responsibility towards managing diabetes. His next exciting venture-learning how to do his own injections. As he has taken charge of controlling aggression and outbursts, Dad and I have told him that we will show him how to do his own injections very soon.  All he needs to do is demonstrate the same calm, collected behavior on a regular basis. Then, we know he will be ready.

Exceptional Parents, what have you learned from your Exceptional Child and what have they learned from you? Remember, you are both constantly in a teaching/learning mode together. As you begin to pay attention, you’ll see your child’s life lessons become yours and vice versa. It’s important to help support each other and overcome personal weaknesses as well as celebrating individual strengths. This will strengthen your child’s confidence and yours. 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! 

Why The Little Surprises From Your Exceptional Tween Make All The Difference

So today Michael came home from school and two things happened. He wanted to talk to me RIGHT AWAY and tell me about his day. This does not happen every day, and I know it is normal. He is growing up and almost a teenager. He usually mumbles hi, day was fine, and then asks if he could go call his friends and go on the computer. He eventually talks to me about his day, usually at dinner, but hearing it right from the moment he walks in like when he was a child, is still special for me. I see him growing up and respect that, but always remind him I am here if he needs to talk and want to continue to offer that closeness.

The other thing that happened was that Michael remembered to do something important today. Without reminders or prompts, HE wore his new Medic Alert necklace that will inform medical personnel in case of an emergency that he is autistic and diabetic, two important things to keep in mind when giving him medical attention should he God forbid not be able to speak for himself. I saw he was wearing it and was blown away. He remembered on his own! That was the first time we did not have to tell him or ask him if he had it. I said, “Michael, I am so proud of you. You remembered to wear your necklace!” His blush and small smile spoke volumes. My words still had meaning for him! I still mattered to him at a time when friends and peer groups rule over parent groups. Wow! We both experienced a rush. My tough big boy who can, frankly, be a pain in the you know what some days, was once again my little boy, who indeed still values my opinion, thought and guidance. I know this, of course, but seeing it with my own eyes is something else.

I have also noticed that even with the tough moments where behaviors still arise and attitude is present, Michael is being more polite and respectful towards Dad and I. There is more of “Thank you Mom, for letting me use your phone to navigate on Google Maps.” “Thank you Mom, for making this meal or letting me have five minutes extra time before bedtime.”  Occasionally I have even been wished, “have a good night’s sleep Mom. Have a good writer’s meeting  or good day Mom.” Yes! His good character is coming through the rebellion, the pulling away that is natural but hard on him and me at times. My sweet little boy is still sweet, but now is a sweet big boy, slowly starting his way on to manhood. Gulp. But, I am seeing a funny side to all of this. Even when he is angry and annoyed at me, I see his struggles. I see him trying to understand the world, me, his friends, himself, through a tween soon to be teen lens. It is not easy. As his teacher this year said to me last week at Parent/Teacher Night, “Remember your teen years. Were they easy for you with the hormones and growing up?” I of course said no. They were the hardest of my life. He reminded me that for Michael he has those hormones, growing up, WITH ASD, ADHD, Diabetes and anxiety. Yep. A lot more to contend with. And looking at Michael through that lens, he is doing a fantastic job of navigating life.

For me as an Exceptional Parent, what has proved the best tool to navigate these years has been what got me through the toddler years- a sense of humor. No, I do not laugh when he is angry and swearing, but I do remember that yes, this too shall pass in a few years when he realizes I and Dad know more than his friends do. Even now, there are those moments when he says things like, “Put your phone down Mommy. I want to talk to you. Listen to me.” He will usually burst into the room when I am in the middle of something, but after asking him for a minute to close up shop, I give him my full attention. I also have reminded him, “4:00-4:30 is your time with me. We can talk if you need it.” He knows I am there if he needs to vent.  I feel the love in the moments when he asks,  will I be coming to his concert, will I be taking any future PED DAYS off, will I take him places in the summer? Yes, he may be pulling away naturally from me, (a good and healthy thing), but I am glad that our relationship is back on a respectful, calm, and orderly plane, so he knows that I love him and make rules for his protection and well being.

Exceptional Parents, how often have your Exceptional Children surprised you? Remember, as hard as life gets with the meltdowns, misunderstandings and challenges, never give up on your child meeting you halfway. If they see healthy boundaries, respect shown both ways, and a willingness for you to keep an open mind and sense of humor, whatever age and stage they are at, they will gravitate towards a more positive relationship  with me in whatever way they are capable of doing. They will feel your love so never be afraid of giving them space, and staying close for when they need your help. 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! 

Why Praise Is As Important As Therapy For Your Exceptional Child’s Behavior Success

I have been underestimating the value of praise lately for Michael. It’s not that he has not been doing great things at home as he has out in the world. It’s just that there have been more challenging things happening at home to distract me from his good moments. Throw in some Mommy self-pity during these challenging times, and we have had a vicious circle of him not even trying some days to be at his best. That fortunately has started changing this week. I’d like to say that it was me with all my Exceptional Mom love that made it happen. But no it was Michael who reminded me, as he often does, about what is truly important and/or missing. He was dilly dallying in bed the other morning stalling to get up. He had just had a great dream he said, and he wanted to continue thinking about it. He knew if he got up, he’d have to start getting ready for the day. I told him he needed to be out the door soon for day camp, and he had to move quickly or we’d be late. I was getting annoyed as it had been getting harder and harder for Michael to get to camp on time. The thing is he loves this camp, but is tired in the morning. I’m not sure if it is the medication he is on or the diabetes or both. We are still trying to figure that out . But  I spoke in an annoyed and irritated voice which did not help matters. Michael responded with a sigh and irritation of his own;

“You know Mommy, I’m doing my best. I’m giving it my effort, just like they are teaching me at camp. ”

A tiny part of my brain digested this. Yes, at camp they give the kids beads for positive behavior. The kids then put these beads on a friendship bracelet. Each time a bead is given, they sing a song. Michael has gotten MANY beads for respect, good listening, kindness to others, and giving it his best no matter how hard. I heard him, but my mouth did not follow what my brain wanted me to say. What came out instead was;

“I know you want to continue your dream, but it’s time to get up. People will get upset if you are late everyday. The real world does not work like that!”

Michael sighed and got out of bed. In the end, we arrived right on time, not ten or fifteen minutes late as what had happened in the past. Why did I respond like this even though my brain knew better? It’s called Mommy exhaustion where you get to a point that you are blinded to seeing anything positive. Most of our kids do at least some positive things every day. It’s important as parents that we note the times they do this, and file it away for future when we are frazzled. This way we can tap into those positive things when we need to.

After a pretty good departure at camp yesterday, I also started remembering Michael the night before showing me with pride his beads on his friendship bracelet. I also remember him talking about how he tests his blood sugar at camp to make sure he really needs to take extra carbs at certain times or not. I also recalled how when we go to the park after dinner, Michael makes sure he has his blood testing kit and a water bottle so he can make sure he is feeling good. I let him walk into the park by himself and supervise from a long way off. He behaves so maturely with the other kids, waits his turn, and loves this independence. How could I have forgotten these milestones that are being performed in the middle of grappling with some serious phobias and anxieties lately? He is also making a bigger effort to control his aggression, both physical and emotional. He is slowly learning to use the strategies for this. He is also motivated to do the exercises his Educator gave him and do them properly. He is trying really hard, and I had forgotten that.

So this morning when he woke up, the first thing I did after saying good morning, was to praise him for his beads at camp and his diabetes management. I was rewarded with a cute shy smile and he said;

“Really? You’re proud of me? Thank you Mommy.”

My heart both filled with love and sadness. I had somehow given him the impression that I was not proud. I started to realize that lately I have been sounding sort of shrill and bossy. I have been hearing my own voice and inside my head saying, “Yeesh Joanne, you sound annoying.” But I could not help it. I did not know why until last night. That is when I did some thinking and realized my tiredness combined with extra challenges made me focus so much on the difficulties he is having that I forgot about the positives he is doing. I vowed with all the challenges Michael is and will be facing in the future, I have to remember every day to find something positive about what he has done or who he is. Even on the really bad days, there have been moments of light and beauty. Our Exceptional Kids struggle a lot and have a hard time putting it all together. That’s where as Exceptional Parents, we are called to be that much more patient, calm, and be the anchor they can safely hold on to when the sea is stormy.

It’s also ok if we lose it as parents sometimes. We can use it as teachable moments, as I do with Michael. Your child may even surprise you with some positive words as I have been receiving lately. Also, we as parents have to see our successful moments and not just the difficulties. I have learned that as well.

Exceptional Parents, do you remember to praise your child even during the times it is not always obvious to do so? If not, remember it is never too late to start. Praise should go hand in hand with good therapeutic practices. Cherish the good times, and with effort on both your ends, the good times will hopefully multiply in the future. Until next time.

 

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there before realizing the gift of who my son is.  For more information about me and my journey, check out my website :www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com  as well as my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks. 

 

 

 

How To See Your Exceptional Child’s Strengths During Hard Times

Summer is a very difficult time for exceptional families. Ours is no different. The adjusting from school to being home is a change. Then home to camp is another change. Then camp to home or family vacation is a final change. All of this causes a lot of stress for exceptional kids who suffer from anxiety and for their families. When things are complicated with many different issues that your child faces, you can imagine how hard it is to stay positive as a parent. But staying positive is a must. I learn every summer, through all of Michael’s challenges, that it is when I am calm that I can make the most difference to helping him learn better ways to handle stress, anger and anxiety. I was reminded recently by professionals working with our family and by my own Mommy gut, that I needed to focus on the positive things my child is doing.

Yes, amidst all the emotional chaos and worry Michael is carrying around he is still, hands down, doing some pretty amazing things. He is trying out new sports at camp and liking it. He has earned several beads for his friendship bracelet for cooperation, kindness and a good attitude , but what strikes me most of all, is his willingness to continue doing the things he loves- cooking new recipes, (I am excited he wants to start this up again), playing soccer, trying out new activities, and taking on more management of his diabetes care. When I see good listening, responsibility, creativity in any of these or other domains, I am making sure to praise Michael. He has also started opening up more about fears he has, real and imagined, and is willing and interested to get help to fix what is holding him back. He knows he is stuck. His self-esteem is at an all-time low, and any lifting of it is progress.

On the tough days when he is argumentative and verbally or physically aggressive to us and himself, it has been hold to stay positive, but I find that if I make the effort to look for the positive in a rough day, we will end on a good note. I realize that I may need to do some pruning with therapy for me in the future. As a parent coach and someone that others turn to for help, this is what I owe them to continue being strong for them and their children. I also owe it to myself  too to go from a place of despair and stress, to a place of hope and belief again for me and my child.  I believe I am a good Mom, coach and person. I believe my child can and will conquer his demons. He is a powerhouse, after all. He has overcome so much in his eleven years on this planet, I know he will not fail. It’s getting him to believe in himself and me to stay positive in the darker times that the challenges lie. I am up for it. It’s my child’s future at stake, and I want him to have every advantage possible to believing in himself like Dad and I believe in him. I know he will get there. I see his potential as do those around him. It’s time we get him to see it too.

Exceptional Parents, are you having a hard time seeing the positive or beauty in your Exceptional Child due to severe behaviors, obsessions, anxiety or fear? Remember, your gem, your child is buried under all the baggage. You will get them out. Never stop seeing their light. It is there even in difficult times. Look for the moments they are victorious over their fears, they make you laugh or admit they are at a loss. This means they are coming out of the fog of their fear. You are their anchor. You are the boat they climb into in the wild sea. Never stop believing in their strength to overcome their struggles, and in your power to help them. See the positive in both of you and you will make progress together. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

 

 

Disaster At The Dentist-What My Exceptional Child Taught Me About Resilience

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It was every Exceptional Parent’s nightmare, and one many of us have over and over. The visit to the doctor for a checkup that goes wrong, so horribly wrong. This is usually common for many parents of all types of children, when their children are babies and toddlers. At this age, it is normal for a child not to understand how to act in a waiting room, to be loud, to make inappropriate comments etc. They usually outgrow it. With Exceptional Kids, the process can make many years.

I have to say though, that as an Exceptional Parent, I have been lucky here. Michael adapted well to most doctor visits. Though the family doctor is more challenging, seeing his eye doctor and dentist has always gone relatively well, that is, until this afternoon. This was the first dental visit he has had since he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the end of last summer. It was a hard night. Michael had high blood sugar at dinner. At least I gave him dinner before the appointment. He was also overtired after a late night sleep the night before. These factors did not mix well with a busier office and having to wait. Michael attempted to start bouncing on a couch next to another patient. Then on the bench with me he attempted some silly inappropriate behavior to me and another patient. Finally, I thought to give him access to Google Maps to navigate streets and areas, a thing he used to love to do. No, today he wanted to watch pop/rock videos on You Tube at full volume. Well, you can all imagine what happened when I told him he needed to a) watch at super low volume as the office was super quiet or b) watch something else. We stepped outside the office where I could still hear when his name would be called, but when he started making threats and hit my shoulder, I knew it was time to go. I wish I had seen the serious signs at home and just rescheduled then. What were those signs? Talking about silly things, having trouble listening and sitting still. I was not at all surprised when I saw the high blood sugar before dinner. I wondered how he had made it to the appointment without worse behavior.

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What ensued afterwards in the car when I half pulled him out, was a meltdown that I had not seen in over a year. My poor child. Yes. I’d come a long way as an Exceptional Mom to see that though my kid messed up how he handled his stress throughout the day and evening, I also had missed the cues that not all was ok. But it was too late. He needed to let it all out. So I let him do that, all the while staying outside the car. I called Dad as I did not have the clinic’s number and asked him to let them know I had to take Michael home. Shortly after, the hygienist came outside in the parking lot and I explained that he wasn’t well. Driving home at first he did more silly things, but then gradually calmed down.

Once at home, he talked to Dad while I had my dinner and two very large glasses of wine.  Then after dinner, Michael went on his swing downstairs to regulate and asked if we could talk. He asked me a lot of questions about behavior, about when police arrested people, and about aggression. We talked. I told him how important it was he learn to control his excitement, anxiety and anger. As upset as he would get at me or anyone else, he could not say threatening things or hit, even if it would never go further. This was aggression, illegal, against the law.

I also called back the dental office. Michael has been going to them since he was 6. They know about his autism and hyperactivity, and though I had phoned to update his file with the Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis, the secretary was extremely grateful when I called back to apologize for having to leave due to high sugar because of his diabetes. I also reschedule the appointment for when he would be on summer vacation in just a few short weeks. Why didn’t I do this before? Don’t know, but lesson learned.

Michael though, once he got over the anger of having to leave, did very well at home. And glory be, the sugar came down for the first time in 4 days at bedtime! What a relief for all of us! I thought to myself how resilient Michael was through all of it. He accepted what needed to be done, listened afterwards at home, packed his lunch for the next day, then did his bedtime routine. I was humbled by his acceptance, and so glad that with such a bad start to the evening, he turned things around so well. He even went to bed early!

Exceptional Parents, how has your Exceptional Child ever humbled you as a parent? What have you learned in parenting them through some challenging moments? Though at first we may become discouraged that we made a bad judgement call, it’s important we give ourselves kudos, and our child, for trying something new. It’s also important we learn from the bad experience what we can do different the next time. Your child still deserves praise for their effort and you for yours. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

 

 

 

Riding The Highs And Lows Of Exceptional Parenthood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

How To Get Over Doubting Your Parenting Abilities With Your Exceptional Child

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As regular readers of this blog know, Michael has hit that preteen testing age which he is experiencing along with autism’s regular anxieties and rigidity. Throw in some unexpected curve balls like diabetes and well, it’s quite the ride for him and us. But the other day something hit me. Michael’s behaviors had not changed from last year. There were days when they were more intense and days when they were about the same. However, I was doubting that I had the right tools to help Michael and was feeling tired. I was also forgetting, and I knew this, to see beyond the behaviors to what he was really communicating. This means seeing what the child is really struggling with and communicating to you. It could be lack of control, testing how much they are loved, or lack of self-regulation. Each behavior could be different. There were times I have noticed a behavior was all about him seeing how far he could push me and what the consequence would be. Would I follow through? Would Dad? Then there were other times that I was so frustrated, but upon closer reflection saw the problem. Michael was having trouble self-regulating and sequencing. These are fancy terms for knowing how to control one’s emotions and the order of how and when things happen. So, Michael getting ready for bed is difficult if he gets thrown off course due to excitement over something that happened earlier. Or Michael is upset that I don’t understand what he is saying and has a hard time controlling his frustration so will swear and yell, then only after realize that is wrong.

There were times he was crying or upset saying, “Mommy, help me. I need you to show me how to do this.” Sometimes he would say, “I need you to do this for me.” It was then that I realized, he really is struggling. This is not all about control and seeing how far he can push me. Sometimes there is genuine fear and confusion. And that was when I realized that I was so tired and in the middle of getting over a bad virus, that I had forgotten to see the child behind the behavior. It is really important as a caregiver to acknowledge when you are exhausted and frustrated that you stop seeing the whole child and only see the behaviors and the problems. You also begin to doubt yourself as a parent and think that everyone is better off taking care of your child than you are. This is not true. Others can support you and help you in your parenting endeavors. After all, it takes a village to raise a child. But never forget. There is no one better able to help and advocate for your child than you as the parent. It broke my heart a few times this week to hear Michael say, “Mommy, why aren’t you the happy Mommy I know? What’s wrong?” He was right. I had to start being happy again so I could start seeing the best in him again.

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Sometimes as parents we get discouraged when our child pulls away from us. We think to ourselves, “I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s too stressful.” But our child is most likely pulling away to see if we will come back. Many times in the last two months as Dad and I put down new boundaries for respect, behavior and expectations we would tell Michael that these things are required for him to live peacefully with us at home. We all deserve respect and he needs to follow the rules we lovingly put in place for his safety, whether he likes it or not. Michael then started opening up that he loves us and wants to listen, but has a hard time. He asked for help with strategies. I told him we were always there to help him with strategies. He seemed surprised. “You mean you’ll help me? I’m afraid to ask for help.” I could not believe he used those words. I thought Dad and I had always shown we were there for him, but somehow the signals had gotten crossed. When he understood that he had options, things began to get smoother.

Exceptional Parents, have you ever doubted your parenting abilities? Remember, you may be tired, overwhelmed and frustrated, but there is no one who can work better with your child’s team than you. Don’t ever forget the importance of seeing your child before the behavior and then helping them when you are feeling strong again. Until then, don’t be too hard on yourself. Your child will always love you and knows you are in their corner. It’s you who has to believe in yourself again and know that you are capable of helping guide them every step of the way patiently and with love. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.