Category: different brains

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.

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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.

Exceptional Child Without Exceptional Excuses- How To Teach Your Child Not To Use Their Challenges As Excuses

Michael is at the age now where he understands he is neuro diverse and that his brain works differently. Heck, he’s been at that age, for better or worse, for the past three years. I say for better or worse as being the smart kid he is, he has tried to use his different brain as an excuse when he has messed up. I got angry because I have autism and ADHD and it’s harder to control my emotions. My blood sugar was high too. And my medication upsets my stomach and I can’t have my vegetables.

Well, the answer is yes and no. While this is some truth in all of the above, I know that Michael is more than his diagnoses, all of our kids are. The tough thing has been explaining this to him, while also reminding him that he is different and if people don’t know what to make of his stimming or interests, it is up to him to explain himself in a calm and positive way. Different is not inferior or superior. It is just different. Our kids are amazing, but we want them to take responsibility for all their emotions, good and bad.

Too many people have a hard time with kids who don’t fit into the cardboard box so-called norm, but that is fortunately changing as more and more information is becoming available through other neuro diverse individuals about what it is like to live in a neuro typical world and have another outlook on life. Parents can connect with other parents and exchange information and help to get their children to thrive. I think in the end though, the challenge is reminding your child that they are responsible for all their actions, good and bad, and that no matter how hard it is for them to regulate, they need to find their own ways to self-soothe and advocate for change for themselves and all neuro diverse people. Of course, when they are little, we parents and other authority figures must do it. There does need to be some help in place to support kids who have challenges. The only thing is that it is important not to use said challenges as excuses that they can’t control anxiety, anger, fear, learning issues or anything else.

Yes, it will be hard. Yes, there will need to be support and understanding. This is where parents and other adults come in. It is up to us to advocate for exceptional children when they are young. However, as they get older we need to pass the reins of self-advocacy over to them. We need to teach them to advocate for themselves, but in a responsible way where they take control of their challenges and are able to be independent, happy and healthy in the world. This is a step by step process and takes time. The first step, is a no excuses mantra they must be taught. Then, help them find solutions.

Exceptional Parents, do your Exceptional Children make excuses for themselves at home or in school? Do they not believe in themselves? If so, it’s time to break that cycle that is defeatist so that they can learn what is  under their control and what is not. Once they know that, they will be able to achieve the ultimate balance in the world. That is what we all want after all, a healthy and balanced life for our kids. Until next time.

The Joy and Pain Of Exceptional Parenting And How To Encourage Your Child To Grow From Their Mistakes

This has been a tough few days for Michael and I. Michael’s anxiety and anger have been touch and go, but I have to say, as hard as it has been watching him suffer to learn self-regulation with all his challenges, the joy of seeing him “get it” when he does, is incredible. He will make me laugh when he sometimes purposely tries to use his autism and adhd as excuses when he is acting inappropriate. I call him on it each time, reminding him that yes his brain works differently and he is neuro diverse, but that is not an excuse to be aggressive or rude. I remind him how many neuro diverse people out there follow the rules of safety and respect, and that he is capable of it too. After all, at school he does wonderfully, at least on the outside.

He has confessed to me on more than one occasion how he pushes his anger down and screams and curses on the inside, but not out loud. I tell him it is ok to be angry, but that anger or anxiety out of control is dangerous for him and others around him. He worries so much when he loses his temper and calls us names, makes aggressive comments or throws things. I have learned to remain calm, redirect him to a calm spot. We have several different signals and words we are experimenting with using. And then when he calms down, he is always remorseful and thanks me for giving him a chance. I tell him to keep believing in himself and try to stop and think before acting. He is worried sometimes he will never get control of his emotions until he is an adult. I remind him that  if he can do it in school, he can do it at home.

Of course at home he is loved unconditionally. Of course at home the same kind of social embarrassment is not present. And of course after bottling up emotions all day, at home it is safe to explode. Explode I allow. It’s the other more dangerous effects of anger that we are working on as a family. I have to say though, that things are improving as far as Michael seeing the consequences of his actions. He seems more anxious and quick to anger these days, but then recovers from it faster. He also has good awareness of what he is doing wrong, and will say he appreciates his father’s and my help to learn from his mistakes. He enjoys the reward system we have set up, and is back to sharing most of his school day with me. He seems more focused on learning and receptive to schedules and routine.

But when he is upset and asking me to help him calm down, it breaks my heart when I have to admit I can’t. For years, I tried. Then I realized that he needed to learn to self-soothe on his own, with his own strategies. I stay nearby, but understand finally that it is NOT my job to fix everything. That is his. It is also his to learn from his mistakes and grow stronger. Tonight, he felt embarrassed by two fights he had with me. He apologized for ruining the night. I quickly told him he did not ruin the night. It was a tough homecoming for sure, but shortly before dinner he turned things around by calming down and then had a great evening with his father and I. I told him a day or night is not a write-off as long as you turn things around and learn from your mistakes. Then, we celebrate the success and move forward. His whole attitude changed after that. I was proud that he could understand and participate in this kind of conversation. My little boy was indeed a big boy and growing up.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle the pain and joy in watching your Exceptional Child grow up? There are moments that are tough to walk away from, but you must. That is how your child will learn. Stay nearby, but let them find their way to soothing, self-regulation. Then, you will be pleasantly surprised when they get it one day and can start to connect the dots of their behavior to their actions. They are truly little heroes, and deserve our continued love and belief in them. Until next time.

Musical Michael-How My Exceptional Tween Regulates and Soothes with Music

As with any tween or teen, Michael loves to unwind and regulate by listening to music, all types of music, though his favorites are pop rock and hip hop. Seeing him listening to music on his portable radio with or without headphones and sometimes watching music videos, I am reminded of myself at that age. Even his rocking while listening to music reminds me a little of me. Ok, I didn’t rock the way he does as I don’t have autism and it was not in a stimming sort of way, but I see his love of the music, beat, and how it soothes and excites him at the same time. He does not look much different than any teen or tween when he is doing it.

The thing is getting him off the electronics is tough. As for any kid today, the allure of its immediacy is only too great. I am glad that though his tastes are changing vis a vis parks and going to stores, he at least will still do long walks with me and I am looking forward to doing bike rides together this summer when we have more time. Still, even with it being difficult to get him out of the house, I like the fact that he connects so easily to music. He reminds me of me when I was his age. “Michael, who sings that song?” “Michael, what is the title of that song?” And 99% of the time he knows the answer to both questions. He also likes to talk about what my favorite songs are. The other day in the car when a song came on we both liked he said, “Hey, that’s cool. We both like the same song.”

I truly believe, especially with the all the tumultuous emotions Michael is experiencing in puberty so far, that music and song lyrics are one of the things that are keeping him grounded. He also has something additional to discuss with me. As his tastes change and he moves away from the sporty young boy who wanted to kick the ball in the park with me, I can now have discussions about musical genres, directions, and other topics he likes to bring up when we are in the car together or on long walks. This is where I am still able to bond with him, to share and ask him what he is feeling, and to remind him he is loved, respected, and that I am there for him.

Exceptional Parents, has music helped build a bridge from your child to you when they were little or older? For many children, they sing before they talk, so music plays a very important role in communication. For others, parents and their child/dren can learn songs together, talk about different genres, and share how music helps them heal from trauma and stress. Whatever the way it is used, music can really help a child learn, regulate and find their way in the world with other people.  Try and see if this is something you and your child can bond over. Until next time.

 

Self-Regulating And How You Can Make The Difference

All of us self-regulate whether we are aware of it or not. We move, we breathe, we use fidgets or visualization, we do yoga, meditate. These strategies help us handle our stress and anxieties. It is very important that we practice ways to de-stress ourselves and then look at what our children can do to calm themselves. When they are babies, there is nothing wrong with helping them with self-soothing, showing them what they need to do. As they get older, it’s important to slowly start moving away from helping and letting them figure out what works for themselves. I was a very hands on Mom, and still am to some degree, but I have been slowly learning to let go and remind Michael how he needs to self-regulate finding out what works for him. He is not a big yoga fun or likes meditating, but watching calming videos and taking a deep breath while squeezing the edge of a chair seems to be something that works.

It’s been tough though, reminding Michael what he can do. He will usually ask me to help him, and now that he is older I am redirecting him to find strategies on his own as he is old enough and capable enough to do this. He struggles with self-esteem and speaking up for himself. I am doing my best to remind him that he needs to learn to calm himself before he can understand what it is he needs to do to be happy and in balance. It is a learning curve, but I know with some great new tools he received, he will get there.

Having discussions with your children about thinking before you speak (Stop and Think), taking deep breaths and putting yourself in other people’s shoes, are great beginnings for starting to see what you need to change in your attitude to stress. As exceptional parents, we also need to make sure we are modeling using our strategies to diffuse or handle stress. This will help our children make more positive choices. And when we mess up, that’s ok. We need to say, “we’re all human and make mistakes. Mom/Dad learned what to do differently next time.”

Exceptional Parents, what are your regulating strategies? What hasn’t worked? It’s important to keep that in mind as you guide your child on their journey of self-control and so they see that making mistakes is ok as long as we learn from them and move forward in a different direction. Until next time.

Staying Calm Through Your Exceptional Child’s Storms- How You Can Bring Them Back To Themselves

Tonight was one of those nights I was hoping were behind Michael and I. It was a night where Michael totally lost it, his temper, his sense of control, and his ability to use his strategies to calm down. He had had an aggressive outburst with me after school, and even the way he has been talking this week is fueled with aggression and anxiety. I’m sure the new medication for focus is a major reason, but he has argued with me that it is helping him. I see improvements in other areas, so I have been watching and waiting to see if it is truly working and if he is better off overall being on it. What has NOT been happening though, is Michael using strategies to calm down anger and anxiety when he starts escalating. In the winter time, he was using the Zones of Regulation with strategies to find a balance. In the last two weeks particularly, he has been struggling greatly at regulating himself. Then we introduce a medication with possible side effects of aggression, loss of appetite and insomnia and BINGO he gets the aggression one. It has been hard to handle for all of us.

I was emailing his psychiatrist to express my concerns, when he started mouthing off at me and getting upset. I had just come in from an outing with him so told him to stay with his father while I went downstairs as I needed a break. I needed physical space away to breathe and not let his anxiety and anger take me along with him, and as Dad had not seen him all night, I figured this would be an opportunity for them to talk and Michael to calm down. Instead what happened was that Michael escalated more . Dad was tired as I was the night before and could not help.  I raced up the stairs two at a time and got Michael to his bedroom after he had banged the wall a few times, shouted horrible things and been jumping up and down so hard I thought the floors would break in half. We got to his bedroom and he was still yelling.  I kept repeating, “Michael breathe. Michael breathe.” And I stayed with him. It was scary. In the past though, after we talked about it, Michael would say, “I needed you there at the beginning to remind me what to do. I forget Mommy. I can’t do it alone.”

So I stayed and eventually the screaming and cursing stopped, and I heard two big breaths. Then two more as he held my hands and breathed with me.  I knew he would be ok. Then, when he was able to express remorse for what he had said and done, I told him he was forgiven. I also reminded him though, that he needed to use strategies to calm down as soon as he started feeling himself getting upset and anxious about anything. We talked about what could work, what doesn’t work, and what may work. He came out of his room realizing that depending on what the doctor recommended, he may be on a lower dose or off the current medication for focus and hyperactivity.

I was proud of the fact that even though he was saying and doing some pretty scary things I kept in mind three things- 1) my child was out of control 2) my child did not mean what he was saying and 3) my child needed me to be the calm one through it all, no matter what. I was happy to say I was successful, and he finished his bed routine  promising me he’d find new positive strategies to help with anxiety and anger. You see, I learned that his old ones did not help anymore and he said, “When I let myself get really angry and let it out, I feel better.” I agreed it’s good to let anger out, but not when you become physically or verbally dangerous to people around you. After I explained it that way, Michael understood and said he would do better. I know he will. My heart breaks for him that finding balance is so hard- balance in focus, balance in controlling emotions, balance in life. His brain works differently than mine, and he has so many incredible things to share, but the fact he is always ON definitively takes its toll on him and those around him. I am learning how to respect who Michael is while respecting myself and finding a compromise so both of us can respect each other’s differences and learn from one another.

Exceptional Parents, how have you managed to support your Exceptional Child when they have been in crisis? If you stayed calm, congratulations. The best thing an exceptional child can have is a parent who is a calm, safe haven for them when they are in turmoil. As much as you are unraveling, knowing that you’ve got their back, will often help them find the strength to try again. Also never forget that no matter what your child says or does when angry, it is not who they are. It is their reaction to whatever stressor provoked them. Be patient and loving. Unconditional love, having ways to talk together and strategies to handle stress, will be the ultimate thing that will help you both in the end. Until next time.

 

How To Regroup And Forgive Your Old Reactions To Exceptional Parenting Stress

The last week has had its challenges in our household. Michael is trying a new medication for his ADHD to help with focus in school. I was told that any differences, either good or bad, would be noticed in the first few days of taking it. Let’s just say we have seen a little bit of both kinds of differences, though I am not fully convinced it is not working, but questioning if it is. That has been part of the problem. Michael is telling me how it is becoming easier for him to focus at school, and that he rocks and claps his fidget a little less than before. However, at home he is more outspoken and easily angered than he was prior to taking the medication. I am conflicted. The fights and the repetitive nature of what he is saying to set me off, have me believe it is more than provocative behavior, yet that is what provocative behavior is, right? I also don’t want him on too many medications, unless they are working. As a result of my conflicted feelings and worries, my patience has not been the best the last few days. We have had some fights. I have reacted in ways I am not proud of. It’s been awhile since I’ve felt this way at home. I thought I’d said goodbye to the easily provoked Mom who became frustrated with her hyper active tween, and inadvertently triggered him by some of her comments. Last night after Michael finally went to bed because on top of a fight he also had low blood sugar and needed to wait to retest before having his bedtime injection, I went downstairs and started researching the medication he was on. I also researched ADHD some more, to try and understand this different brain that is so like and unlike autism.

I realized I had come far away from listening to my child over the last week. I was too busy worrying if the medication was right, if he was having side effects, if it would counteract with his insulin and other medication, that I forgot to trust in two very important things-Michael’s instinct about how he feels and my own about my son. I was so busy worrying if the outbursts at home were due to the new medication and if we should stop it, that I was tuning out Michael saying he is feeling good, and to please try it for a little longer. Strangely, as much as end of day has its challenges, Michael actually seems happier since he started the medication and more organized with getting ready for school, bed and other activities. We are having less fights about sequencing stuff. So what does this mean? I think that sometimes as parents we stress so much about every little thing and read too much into things being one way. It’s important not to micromanage too much, step back, and listen for your child’s feedback, especially if they are on medication and are older. They can tell you how they feel.

It’s also ok to occasionally slip up and get angry. You’ll move forward into a calm and zen way of parenting your exceptional child then something stressful will occur and you may temporarily fall back on old habits. Don’t stress. Recognize the angry and scared part of yourself. Nurture it. Forgive yourself your mistake, and apologize to your child. Michael and I both spoke about our mistakes, and and Michael said to me this morning, “Today we start fresh Mommy, right?” Of course, I answered right away.

Exceptional Parents, do you ever feel that making a mistake in how you react to your child is the end of the world? It’s not. It just means that you need to do some more nurturing towards yourself and your fears and worries. It also means that you could be tired and need a break. It’s ok if you feel provoked by your child on occasion. Use the mistake as a learning experience for yourself to get stronger, as well as to show your child that we can grow and become stronger after moving on from mistakes. Tomorrow is always another day after all. Until next time.

 

How To Make Sure Your Child Does Not Use Their Different Brain As A Cop Out On Life

“Mommy, I have ADHD and Autism, right?”
“Yes, Michael.”
“So it’s ok if I’m late to activities sometimes, because it’s hard for me to get organized.”
As usual, Michael was one step ahead of me, and now I had to think of how to answer this question without enabling him when maybe unintentionally I was partly responsible for this mindset.

“Yes, organization can be hard for you, and your brain works differently buddy. But you don’t get a free pass to be late to things because you have a different brain.”
“Oh, ok Mommy.”

This was how many of our conversations went these days. Michael and I were having quite a lot of conversations along this bent. When I made the decision to tell him about his autism when he asked me what autism was and did he have it at eight years old, I did not think I would be opening up a whole lot more than I thought at the time. Michael has been asking this version of the question since he was eight years old and trying at times, smart as he is, to use his different brain to catch a break. Dad and I have not been letting him do this though, as long as we see that he is legitimately able to cope. Now, I’m not saying that we do not try and avoid situations that could trigger a sensory overload and prepare for them. If long lines are forecast for future events, I plan to call ahead and mention Michael’s difficulty with that due to his autism and adhd, but this would not mean that I would tell him that he could get away with rudeness, aggression or disorganization in society. For Michael, sometimes the supports we have in place to help him understandably make him think he is totally different from other kids and different rules apply. But, as he gets older, we are reminding him that he is just as capable to be organized like others. He is smart, well mannered, and has strengths and weaknesses as kids do who do not have autism or different brains.

Dad and I also remind him that others know he struggles in certain areas and are there to help, not in pity but in support. Others understand he wants and deserves to be a part of any activity, job and societal event that he enjoys, but they are looking to him to show them how he needs to be treated and responded to. There are some who understand him, and others who still need to be enlightened. Above all, Dad and I are telling people around us how proud we are of how far Michael has gone and how much farther we know he’ll go. Kids with autism need the same amount of love, support, encouragement and gentle pushes to get out in the world, take risks, and learn from their mistakes. They also cannot have different life rules. They need to do their school work, participate in social exchanges in a calm and respectful way, and deserve friends who cherish them like the amazing people they are. This all comes with rules they must follow just like the rest of us.

So therein begins the gentle tightrope balancing act of some help (depending on the child and what they are), with expectations that they must meet in order to find their way in the world. Our kids can do this,  all to a different degree of course, but as parents advocating for our child’s challenges and getting them to overcome them comes first. Then, it is showing the world their amazing uniqueness and what they could bring into society. Finally, it is showing our kids how to give back to the world so that they will see they are a part of something bigger. Until next time.

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!