Category: different brains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Miss Your Face-How My Autistic/ADHD Tween Defines Quality Time

“Why are you always downstairs when Daddy and I are in the living room? I never see you!” Michael said in irritation the other night.

“I’m downstairs writing, Michael. I always come up right before you go to bed to see how you are and to say goodnight.”

“Why don’t you want to be with us?”
“Honey, I’m with you every day when you come home at 4:00 pm, we talk, we eat dinner, and then you are Daddy are talking or both on your phones so I take that time for me. Besides, it’s not like we are having family time. We do that during meals and on weekends. You and I spend a lot of time together. Why is it so important I am upstairs for that hour?”

Michael paused and then answered. “Because I miss your face Mommy. We are all together in one room, even if we are all doing different things.”

His words hit me full force. I miss your face. We are together, not in a deliberate way like eating, but together casually. In his mind, with his unique brain, this is family time exceptional tween style, and I was not understanding that.

“Ok. What if I come up a half hour earlier and we have this time so that still leaves me my writing time? Does that work for family time?” I asked.

“Yes, Mommy. I like that idea. Thank you.”
Simple. Such a simple change. And after I got over the shock of “I miss seeing your face,” my heart exploded with joy. He misses me. He still values family time, and even though peers and private time are tops, he wants to do family things. My big guy who is getting more independent each day misses having us all in the same room. Awww. I am doing something right. So is Dad. It’s hard sometimes when you are parenting a child so different than the typical tween. I’d forgotten that people with autism and ADHD look at life, relationships and the world differently. This was how Michael defined family time, whereas another child would want to go out to a movie or shopping. Don’t get me wrong. We still have days when we talk for a half hour or more. But more often than not, Michael will give me “highlights” of his day, key moments, then announce he wants to go to his room where he will stay chilling for a bit followed by listening to music on his headphones, then a solo bike ride or walk alone, then back home for dinner.

So this was new and appreciated. It also reminded me how as parents we need to try and see our kids through different lenses, and when we can’t, look to them for cues on where to meet them on their way to growing up. Michael and kids like him are our best teachers.

Exceptional Parents, how often do you see life through your Exceptional Child’s lens or listen to ways they’d like you to meet them? Often we push to have them meet us in our world, forgetting to respect their world and boundaries. Remember, meeting halfway between two different worlds, yours and your child’s means compromise. Let your child know their views are as important as yours and you will keep the parent/child bond growing stronger as they age. Until next time.

Impulsivity And How To Help Your Child With ADHD Navigate It

Michael is impulsive. He has been that way since he was a child. I said ADHD. Others said Autism. It was tricky. You see, he has both, but it was hard to see for some of the professionals. You see, there are so many similarities with autism. We are learning now about the differences. Over the years, I’ve learned to trust my mother’s instinct when it comes to Michael. I’ve also learned how to use the great advice I’ve been given from caring professionals, good family and friends, and all of this has helped me become a better parent. Of course, I have days when I mess up. Regularly. But now I can see those days for what they are. Days when I am tired, frustrated, stressed, and not using my strategies to control my own negative emotions. Confession time. I can be impulsive time. I am a little ‘off the wall’ to those who know me well. It’s what makes my creativity work well. It’s what makes me love writing, singing, dancing, and anything artsy. It’s also what could be my downfall if I didn’t have measures in place to balance out my impulsive, fun and creative side with my practical, logical and stay in the moment side.

This is what I realize Michael needs. What all kids who have ADHD need. They need guidelines, strategies and clear concise ways to reign in impulsive thoughts and actions. It is hard. Damm hard. And although I don’t have Michael’s brain, I know he needs to release a lot of that impulsivity in a healthy way. All our kids do. Here are some strategies I am seeing that work to help kids like Michael reign in impulsivity:

1) STOP, THINK, ACT: I have seen this acronym used in many good books and articles written for ADHD kids and adults. This can be taught by family members modeling it whether we need to do all three or not. Even when I am fully in control of myself, I still will try and model this acronym when I am feeling frustrated so Michael learns it is what he needs to do. Stop and think before speaking, then act and talk only after calming down.

2) Use physical activity as a release: Any kind of rough and tumble play, sports, sensory workout or walking, biking, swimming can be great ways to release pent up emotions or stress. Afterwards, kids can more easily center and re-connect to their emotions and share with parents.

3) Keep a journal of thoughts and emotions:  This is a great tool for kids to use (and adults) with and without ADHD. Writing down difficult feelings and emotions in order to be able to talk about and work though them. Sometimes drawing can help too.

4) Having “safe spots” to go to: This means having rooms or areas in a  house, at school to go and regroup when things get too difficult or overwhelming. Often when kids with ADHD can be redirected there early enough, they can avoid all kinds of unpleasant confrontations afterwards.

5) Give choice and schedule important events: Giving your ADHD child choice in what they want to do around their everyday necessary schedule can help a lot with reducing impulsivity and feelings of lack of control. Some things need to be planned, others like choosing a bedtime, a downtime or homework time (that is reasonable) can go a long way in helping curb fights and impulsive outbursts that cause problems.

Exceptional Parents, what are you tips and tricks for helping your Exceptional Child with ADHD or other challenges thrive? In the end, we all know that love makes the world go around. As long as your child knows that you love and care for them, they will work with you. No one wants to struggle. Children want to succeed as much as we want them to. Just remember to tell them you love and believe in them no matter what. Until next time.

 

 

 

Old Fears New Solutions-How To Remind Your Exceptional Child That They Can Solve Problems

So the other day Michael was feeling emotionally stuck. I was not only able to tell by his body language, but he also told me, “Mommy, remember that fear I had last year of watching certain videos? It’s coming back. The strategies I used last year to help are not working.”
Once again I was filled with such pride and amazement at how Michael has learned to grasp emotional concepts, and how he is learning, through some great CBT type strategies that we have both learned through therapists both in person and through books and videos, to apply these ways of understanding the world in his own way. with his own brain. It’s not easy to rewire your brain at any age, and kids who start off with different brains right away have another way of viewing things. We have to start with their way of viewing the world and go from there.

I and Michael have been lucky to find therapists who get his “out of the box” thinking, and are not trying to get him to conform to a particular way of seeing the world. That is how it should be for our kids, but isn’t always. And when Michael gets nervous he can’t handle his anxiety and stress, I remind him of the tools that worked in the past, and if they are not working, what else we can try. Most importantly though, is the reminder to him that if he faced one fear he can face others.

“Michael, remember how scared you were last year and how far you’ve come. You know what you tried and what worked. If that no longer works, let’s see what can. What are your ideas?”

We talked about different things he could do. Michael spoke about how he could ask his Educator for tips, his therapy team at school, and asked me what I do when I’m scared. I told him. The thing is, as parents ,we have to empower our kids that they can solve their own problems and find solutions. The difficulty lies when the solution is not clear cut and simple and means troubleshooting various areas. That is why as a parent, you need to be armed with three things:

1) Knowing what makes your child tick

2) Trusting in your child’s ability to do better if they know better

3) Immersing yourself in how THEIR brain works by reading books, articles,  watching videos by neuro diverse people who have the insider view on the autistic brain.

The hard part after this is getting your child to trust in themselves and their ability to use their very unique brain to solve problems. As they get more confident it will come, but remember, they need you in their corner cheering them on. Eventually, they will learn to be their own cheering section.

Exceptional Parents, how have you redirected your Exceptional Children to see old problems in new ways? Remember, as long as you use the 3 points above, they will be true to themselves and find what works for them. Love and being patient with themselves will help see them through. Until next time.

Personality Changes In Your Exceptional Child-When To Panic And When To Say It’s Puberty

So I have been feeling worried about Michael. Yes, I am a worrier and prone to anxiety myself. But, I have been seeing a little bit of a personality shift in my tween. He is going from a very extroverted social kid to being a little more withdrawn and not wanting to be in big places doing big things like in the past. The scariest thing at first was how he didn’t want to be around big crowds in stores, parks, beaches, pools. This was not the Michael I have known since infancy, who although would get overwhelmed, loved talking to and socializing with different people. Puberty has brought many changes, and one of them has become a greater awareness of his environment, appropriate and inappropriate things to do, and self-conscious thoughts. Was the medication causing this? Was he depressed? Or was this normal?

I am beginning to think this is part of Michael’s normal adolescence. His awareness of the world around him and the noises, social norms and other things expected of them, has made him a little more self-conscious and shy. I don’t think it is anything to worry about, though I do worry about his retreating socially a bit. A lot of the fights we’ve had lately have been around me saying he can’t let fear push him away from trying new things. He has taken it that I am trying to push him full force into talking something fearful, when I am clarifying with him that no, I don’t mean that. What I want is for him to tackle his fears slowly, break down the worry into small pieces, and then see how he can be successful. I think he is starting to believe me, though we are having hiccups along the way. What parent and tween don’t, right?
I am happy to say that I have seen a great maturity in Michael and how is handling his meltdowns lately. He is learning what he is doing right, and where he needs to improve. He spoke tonight that he stopped himself from throwing something in anger and let out his rage in crying and punching a toy meant to be a release for his anger. I commended him for doing that, though I have to admit it broke my heart to hear him crying. He also said it helps him to have one of us nearby when he is having challenges, both to see him through the tough time, and after when he is calm to talk. I realized this is not a child who is not well. This is a child who is slowly learning about his nervous system and how and what works for him to handle anger and anxiety and reset himself.

Red flags for a child would be complete pulling away from family and friends, complete personality changes social or solitary, and any kind of repeated destructive behavior where lessons were not learned and the intensity of it got worse. I am thankful that this is not the case. In fact, even on the harder days, we are seeing improvement. It just means more resilience is demanded of Dad and I as we need to have the patience and compassion to show Michael we will never give up on him so he does not give up on himself.

Exceptional Parents, have you noticed any personality changes in your Exceptional Child? If so, have you been able to pinpoint if they are in trouble or simply growing up? As always, you need to trust your parenting gut in figuring out what it is they need. If in doubt, get a professional opinion. In most cases though, sooner or later your child will tell you that this is who they are in what they say or do. Then you will know how best to support them from where they are at that moment. 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.

 

 

When Your Exceptional Tween Reaches Out-How To Meet Them Halfway

Puberty has been challenging for Michael. I have said this before. He is dealing with a lot of different emotions and feelings and having to learn to self-regulate and practice impulse control. Thankfully aggressive behavior overall is going down, and even anxiety. He is recognizing his strengths and giving himself credit. Dad and I are working on reminding him of that. He is also recognizing his limitations and asking for help. What I am impressed about and very proud of him for, however, is that he is willing to meet us halfway now. Yes, we are compromising as parents and child. This is mandatory when your child has ADHD or a different kind of brain  with lots of other challenges, as from the beginning, they see obstacles and the world in general in another way than you do.

Where am I seeing compromise? Michael understands we make the rules for his general well-being, and if he wants to stay up later, do a fun activity longer, he checks with us.  He also will give different ideas concerning controlling anger and if they don’t work, go looking for what else he can try. He is trying to learn how to get out there socially in an appropriate way, AND communicating how he feels about his relationship with us. The other day he got upset when I was heading downstairs to write;

“Mommy, can you stay upstairs until I go to bed and go write downstairs after? Can you stay in the same room with Daddy and I. You can write here or read, right?”
“I can, but you’re listening to music with your headphones anyway.  Does it really matter?”
“Yes. If you stay here with Daddy and I (Dad also had headphones on watching his videos). I know we are a family.”

“We’re a family wherever we sit Michael. We do lots of things as a family.”
“But I miss you.”
My heart swelled with love. He may not want hugs and kisses from me, but he wanted my presence. He wanted the security of us all in the room together even if we were doing different things. My big boy cares and wants to bond with us still. Lately he has also been sharing more confidences with me, and a biggie everyone, he has been confessing things he did wrong, opening up by saying; “I don’t want to lie to you Mommy.” I am so proud of how he is growing up. Dad and I tell him that. Other than his points rewards system for drives, we are also watching his behavior and seeing that he can be left alone for short periods of time now. We are looking into letting him go on bike rides and walks (short) on his own. I think he sees the trust we are putting in him and he is finally seeing he can put that trust back in himself.

So what have I learned from meeting my exceptional tween halfway?

1) Write out a list of expectations (both of you): It’s important that both parent and child know where each stands.

2) Keep the lines of communication open by BEING physically and emotionally available for your child:  Ask about their day, find opportunities to talk and stay nearby. You’ll never know when you’ll be missed otherwise.

3) Compromise on things like bedtime and rewards but makes sure it works both ways: Don’t be such a stickler for the rules. Pick your battles with your child, but remember, have a consequence for either of you if you step out of line, and learn from the rough times as much as from the good ones.

4) Remember your child’s limits: This is hard when they are in heavy negotiations and you think that your child can’t be limited in self-control or learning, but they are. Their very different brain does not work like yours so misunderstandings will occur if things are not clearly outlined.

5)Love your child through it all: This one sounds obvious, but too many times we are frazzled and frustrated and forget that our child is struggling even when they are angry and yelling at us. It’s important after they calm themselves down and you do the same, that you show and tell them you love them always. They need to know they are accepted for who they are.

Exceptional Parents, how have you met your Exceptional Child halfway? What has been the result? I’m sure you both came out winners. It’s important to remember we all have bad days or weeks. We need as parents to teach our children how mistakes, fears and hurts help us learn. And then show them, through our example, how it is done. Until next time.