Category: exercising

Helping Your Exceptional Child Balance Structured and Unstructured Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How A Day That Breaks You Can Make You-Learning From Your Exceptional Mom Mistakes And Getting Stronger

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I’ve learned long ago to ask myself the age old Oprah question, “what can I learn from what just happened?” particularly when I’ve reacted in a less positive light than I would have liked. The other evening¬† Michael and I had a rough time. There was anger and misunderstanding on both sides, and lots of self-pity, mainly on mine. I was not Buddha Mom or anything close to it. I was “feeling sorry that I had to deal with yet another obstacle with her challenging kid Mom” and I resented the hell out of him. He had enough things that were hard for him, why add more? Why, ’cause my kid is a tween and into arguing about everything and taking everything personally. It’s also due to his anxiety. Everything I said sounded angry to him, he was either verbally aggressive or insulting, and I was tired still knowing there was another five hours to go until bedtime. Would I survive?¬† I knew I would, but it was a hard night and I was not proud that I had yelled and ended up storming out of the room.

However, after asking myself what I could learn from this, I realized there was the gem. I had to learn to control MY anger as well as teach Michael to control his. You see, until recently I thought I had kicked anger to the curb five years ago. Well, I had for awhile, but now instead of turning my anger and frustration inward and burning out, it is going WAY outward at my kid. Like most women who’ve experienced depression and anxiety, I never want to go back to that dark hole again, so fear has made me act on the offensive not to internalize and deal with the feelings inside or outside. This is not good. I end up also yelling or slamming doors¬† which is not a good way to handle anger. In the last few days, I have been reading up on various ways to handle anger in a positive way. Some I already do most of the time and know of them from Michael’s Educator. But it was great to have a refresher course all the same. So, for all those Exceptional Moms kicking themselves for yelling and losing their own self-control, here are some basic ways to reign yourselves in:

1) Breathe and count to 5: In the time it takes you to do this, you will think of a far better response to your child’s outburst.

2) Make sure to exercise: Exercise will give you lots of energy and recharge you so you can face more stress than someone who does not exercise.

3) Meditate for twenty minutes a day: This one I have always done, and it helps A LOT. At the very least, you can recognize when you become “crazy Mom” as I do and file it away for later as a NOT TO DO.

4) Practice gratitude: You do the practicing when NOT angry of course, so when self-pity threatens to come in during an angry moment, you can count the blessings you do have. We all have them and remember, it’s always darkest before dawn.

5) Rest and be gentle with yourself: I always lose my top the most when I am not sleeping enough or not having enough “me time”. Go to bed early, curl up with that book or movie, or indulge in a bubble bath or a coffee on a terrace. Your body and mind will thank you.

Exceptional Parents, do you feel guilty and like a failure when you blow your top at your Exceptional Child? Don’t. You are human and make mistakes. Your child may even surprise you and will probably forgive you before you forgive yourself. The other day Michael told me that I was a really good person. I found this particularly significant as we had had a fight that morning and though we had made up, I carried the guilt around all day. Our kids are wise. We need to trust that we are too, and that we will learn from our mistakes and not just survive, but thrive afterwards. We are parents. We are strong. Until next time.

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there and lived these very words before realizing the gift of who my son is and what he has helped me realize. If you want to have more information about me and my journey, check out my website http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com and my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks.

 

 

7 Ways To Regroup When You Lose Your Stuff As An Exceptional Parent

This morning was one of those mornings I wished I could press rewind to the moment Michael woke up. I wished I would have said and done things differently from the start when Michael woke up late, started dilly dallying, getting caught up in small details which we did not have time for. I wished I had not been triggered by his anxiety and anger to unburden all my anger and self-pity that I had been bottling up all week as we repeated a bad morning routine which did not seem to be changing any time soon. I also wished, both silently and loud, that someone else would ring the doorbell and take over for me. This woman would be a calm Buddha Mom which  I am striving to be. She would look like the calm Buddha Parent Coach  I am when I work with kids and parents who I am not related to. She would gently take me by the hand and tell me to breathe.

After when Michael and I¬† had both calmed down, apologized and left for camp, I realized that this bad morning had been a blessing and a huge wake up call as to what I needed to change in my parenting style. Yes, Michael needs to continue making changes as to how he handles stress and anger. He is actually doing better and each day incorporating the strategies he is learning through the anxiety exercises our Educator gave us. But I also have to learn new strategies to cope with my stress and anger as a Mom. As a professional, I know what to do to keep myself calm and in control. I would avoid doing all the things I did this morning as a rule, no matter how angry I was on the inside. But when it’s your child the walls come crumbling down much easier as that there is no child better equipped to push your buttons than your own flesh and blood.

I came away from this morning’s difficulties, realizing that not only do I have to be Buddha Mom as I am Buddha Professional in my work, BUT I need to anticipate that my child, on purpose or simply due to me being Mom and him knowing he can throw all his difficulties at me at once,¬† will give me multiple challenges, and I need to be in shape to handle them calmly, predictably and compassionately. As always though,¬† my philosophy is taking a bad experience and seeing what positive thing I can learn as the take away. The take away in this case is 7 ways Exceptional Parents can regroup when they lose their stuff with their Exceptional Child and learn to do for future stressful encounters.

  1. ¬†Breathe and Take 5 : It’s important to remember to breathe then take 5 seconds before responding to anything negative or stressful your child says, whether intentional or not.
  2. Deal With Your Own Daily Stress and Anger: You need to make sure that any anger or stress you feel towards your child or others is handled at the end of each day. Don’t let this pile up.
  3. Exercise, Yoga and Meditate: This is important to do to handle stress in advance, but do it after too. Your body will thank you.
  4. Forgive Yourself: This is a toughie for a lot of Moms who feel they have to be perfect.¬† ¬†You don’t. You are human. You will do and say things you regret. Apologize, forgive and learn from it.
  5. Talk To Your Child About What They Can Learn: If your child is able to have this discussion, talk to them about what they can learn from yours and their mistakes.
  6. Make Sure To Give Them And You A Clean Slate:  Make sure that once the fight is over, there is no more lingering anger, fear or resentment. Start over.
  7. Talk To Other Exceptional Parents: Talking to other parents, either friends or parents in support groups, can help you remember that you are not the first parent to lose it with your child nor will you be the last. Again, it’s ok. You are a human being.

Exceptional Parents, how long did it take you to forgive yourself when you have lost your stuff with your Exceptional Child? Remember, we all have moments we regret, but these moments and experiences are what shape us into stronger more resilient parents and human beings. Sometimes the best way to grow is through these challenging times. You and your child can use that as a stepping stone and move forward into easier terrain from then on. 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 ‚Äú5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY‚ÄĚ see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

 

Differently Wired Brains and Exceptional Parenting Patience- This Mom’s Lesson in Humility Today

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I love our child psychiatrist as does Michael.  I say this not just for the reason that she is kind, compassionate and has a sense of humor, but also because she really has a way of helping parents see their child as they first did when their child was diagnosed, that is, their child is differently wired not ill. I know this deep down in my bones, but sometimes because Michael looks like other kids, has the same desires as other kids and is becoming more and more of a teenager every day, I forget even now. He is not wired like other neuro typical kids, that is, his brain is not wired like theirs. It is not less or greater than, it is different as theirs is from his. This means, signals get crossed when he is communicating to us and us to him. It also means he perceives stress on a whole other level, and that we, as his parents, need to stay as calm as we can as we ride out his storms and guide him when he is doing well.

I fail to stay calm as much as I’d like. I’m getting there day by day, and now when I lose it,¬† (less often thank goodness), I don’t beat myself up that I’m a failure like I used to years ago. I repeat my favorite mantra, “I’m a good Mom having a bad day.” AND I also vow to model patience, calm support for Michael. I was reminded¬† today of how doubly destructive it is when exceptional parents yell at their child when the child is challenging. We had a rough morning at our home.¬† All it does is show them that yelling and reacting gets things moving, the opposite of what we want to teach.

 

It was humbling to share today that I have lost patience with Michael and can identify my triggers while Dad admitted the same, and hearing that we need to remember that while we have a hard time controlling our anger like a lot of people do, imagine how much more difficult it is for Michael to control his? It also helped me see all Michael’s victories so far in 2018-how far he has come since the fall in handling his emotions and using strategies, how amazing he is being with handling his diabetes, taking new medicine for aggression, as well as working with a new therapy team- an educator and child psychiatrist, as well as his team at school.

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Exceptional Parents, are you losing your cool with your Exceptional Child when they have challenging days? Remember, it is normal to get upset. Our kids know exactly how to hit us right in gut for that reaction when they are losing control themselves. The thing is if we model a calm approach to a tantrum or an aggressive act by showing no tolerance yet no overly angry or annoyed reaction, we are showing our child how to self-regulate in the best way possible. It’s also important for us as parents to find tools to help ourselves stay calm¬† if we start losing it frequently- meditation, yoga, exercise,¬† warm baths or massages, talking to friends, can also be great stress releases. Also, as hard as it is, make sure to try and carve out alone time for you to check in how you are feeling. If you are not calm, do the things that can help you stay calm. And if you start losing it with your child, take a deep breath and step back into a happy place in your mind or into another room if you can. Just remember, you are their model for better or worse. They need to know you love them no matter what. 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 ‚Äú5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY‚ÄĚ see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

 

How to Handle Anxiety And Sensory Issues in an Older Child

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This week has been an interesting week with Michael. Well, pretty much every week is interesting. Some weeks are more challenging than others, good and bad. Last week was a good week overall, but I did notice a lot of anxiety in Michael. The good thing is he is learning to express himself better and talk about his feelings. The bad thing is that the same measures that used to work (offering him sensory massages, pillows to squeeze and showing him his exercise ball) don’t always work. He will sometimes actively fight me on even trying these techniques. This is what I am calling the curse of the tween hormones, with a touch of autism. I add the last part for a little bit of humor to get us through the tougher moments when Michael is pretty arguing with us about everything. This morning it was when he would do his chores so he could accumulate money to buy his next toy. Weekends are tough as the structure changes, and though it has been nice taking a break from extracurricular activities, Dad and I now he needs them again. The brain break was good, but physically for stress relief and sensory reasons we see how he really needs to move.

It’s tough though, as he is at the age when he does not like challenge. Our school physiotherapist warned us that due to a mild hypotonia, he may not like being physically pushed to go a little farther. But in order for him to get strong and build muscle, ¬†he would need to move as this would help him. When he moves, just like any child, he also burns energy, feels more relaxed and positive, and handles stress and sensory issues better. It’s a tough balance, and one I am slowly learning to navigate as the mother of a tween. In all areas, he is growing up, pushing us away in daytime, and then pulling us closer at night. Sundays he dreads going back to school even though he is doing well. It is the pushing of limits. He wants to play it safe, as we are trying to teach him that only by taking risks can he make progress. I find that by giving him some freedom, I am helping him learn his own power. But then I must remind him, these are your strategies to calm down. Let’s write them on a paper. Let’s look at pictures of the equipment. Now you try what works.

Exceptional parents, what sensory issues/anxieties are your experiencing with your Exceptional Child? Are they close to or at the tween age or younger? You will see your child move through cycles, no matter what age they are. There will be good days and bad days. There will be victories and setbacks. The most important thing you can do is remind your child that though there are rules they have to follow with you and adults around them, they also have a measure of control over their life, their anxiety, and their sensory issues. Praise them when they make a good choice. Calmly redirect when they stumble. And if you need a minute, give yourself a time out to breathe and move forward. Only if you are calm and centered, can you help your child move forward into independence as stress-free as possible. Until next time.

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

SPECIAL OFFER: February is the month of love. We show love to our children, partners and friends But what about to ourselves as parents? Do you know how to practice self-care and truly love the amazing parent and person you are? If you need support in this area of your life, until Feb. 28th I am offering a FREE ONE HOUR one on one coaching session, as well as a second one hour one on one coaching session at 50% off regular price. Give yourself the gift of self-love, and learn some great tools to begin to put your needs first so you can parent in balance. Contact me at joanne@creatingexceptionalparenting.com or 514-827-7175 to book your Skype session. www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

 

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Bedtime Battles-10 Ways For Exceptional Moms To Cool Down

So I did it again. I know better. I know how audio visual, and nighttime anxiety, and testing behaviors come out at night. And still, still I gave Michael a chance to get a later start on his bedtime routine. It quickly became a bedtime battle with Michael getting upset and me yelling. Really, I’m more disappointed in myself as I know better usually. He’s a great kid, but like any kid, he will do what he has to do to stall going to bed.

“I’m not tired Mommy. I can go to bed at 10:00 pm.” Yeah right. Then his eyes are closing at school, (his own admission) and I can see by the end of the day he is fried. So, I said it before but I did not stick to it. Sometimes, even with good intentions us Moms make mistakes. Starting tomorrow, I will be more firm that with a heavier bedtime schedule he needs to start earlier or else do a shorter routine. And I will plan on enforcing this more strictly and holding myself accountable. Another thing I did wrong was that I was not forceful enough after school that I needed to work. Michael was testing and rude, then apologetic and clingy, so much so that I got no work done after school then no work done after dinner due to fighting about bath so I was, well, feeling sorry for myself and licking my own wounds so to speak. I know now that this will not help anyone so I will not do it anymore.

Last night made me think of all the ways I can learn to hold my emotional stuff together and give other parents tips on what works for me. Some of these are harder to implement than others even though I know better, but I am getting there. So, here are my 5 tips:

  1. Rid yourself of your own emotional angst: ¬†Lots of parents, Moms especially, keep their own feelings in until they burst. Don’t do this. You don’t help your child or yourself and you cause lots of stress that is not necessary. If you feel anger or resentment at your child, yourself, your partner, find a productive outlet to release it and do something positive for yourself.
  2. Make sure you are sleeping enough: Sleep deprivation or exhaustion does not help anyone in your family. A person will not tolerate stress well until they are rested and calm. The world will still turn if you go to bed early a night or two. Try it.
  3. Remind yourself your child is not trying to make your life miserable: It is hard sometimes when we are frustrated and tired to see challenging behavior for what it really is; a child’s cry for help and attention. We need to not take it personally, see what is bothering them, and go from there. But, we need the emotional distance from our own feelings before getting there.
  4. Breathing and meditation: I know. I’ve probably said breathing and meditation a million times in my blog posts (and will put them in a million more), but it is so important to take are of yourself with mindfulness and staying the moment. Even when I fail to do this, yoga and meditation have showed me HOW to get back on the right track.
  5. Exercise regularly: Finally am getting back to a regular exercise routine in 2017. I always am shocked how I make excuses not to do something that makes me feel wonderful inside. I was having some mini anxiety attacks earlier in the week, and then I realized why: tired and not exercising to handle stress. I did one workout this week and am planning two more, but even after one I felt like a million dollars. I did a 2o minute Zumba routine. Do anything Moms. Walk. Go on a treadmill, swim, bike. Your body will thank you a million times.
  6. Get a massage or go to a spa: For those of you lucky enough that your partner can do it, ask for one and give one in return. It’ll spark something else. For everyone else, go every ¬†few months if you can afford the splurge. Lots of spas have gifts cards, discounts and I like to go to a Hammam experience at a local spa near me. It is in my price range and can tide me over till I get a one hour or one hour and a half massage.
  7. Make quality time with your child before bedtime to bond: When you are truly bonding with your child in all senses of the word, you will feel the connection. They will not need to act out and will feel secure and you won’t get upset.
  8. Find out what about their behavior is triggering you: This is something I just learned about recently. What our kids do that bug us is usually what we did to our parents or how they responded to us. See if you can get to the bottom of it by journaling about your feelings or talk to a therapist.
  9. ¬†Spend time out with family and friends: This is important to do alone and with your child. You’ve got to see them in a good context and not just in when they are misbehaving.
  10. Cry, scream, write, get it out of your system: Don’t be afraid to let out your emotions when you are alone and it is safe to do so. You need to leave room for everything in your body, mind and soul, including the bad emotions. ¬†As long as it is cathartic and does not make you delve deeper into depression, it is the way to go.

Exceptional Parents, do you have your own tricks to stay calm with your children that are different from those above? If so, great. I’d love to hear them! If they work, more power to you. If not, feel free to try any and all of the above. The important thing is to remember we all have our breaking point, but to try to not let yourself get to that point for everyone around you. Until next time.

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

SPECIAL OFFER: February is the month of love. We show love to our children, partners and friends But what about to ourselves as parents? Do you know how to practice self-care and truly love the amazing parent and person you are? If you need support in this area of your life, until Feb. 28th I am offering a FREE ONE HOUR one on one coaching session, as well as a second one hour one on one coaching session at 50% off regular price. Give yourself the gift of self-love, and learn some great tools to begin to put your needs first so you can parent in balance. Contact me at joanne@exceptionalparenting.com or 514-827-17175 to book your Skype session. 

What I Learned From Having An Exceptional Mommy Meltdown

About a week ago in the late afternoon, Michael and I¬† got into a very heated argument about Michael not accepting something I told him couldn’t happen that afternoon. I knew it when he got off the bus that something was wrong and we would be in for a rough ride. I tried to stay calm. Really I did, but due to feeling tired and stressed myself, I instead joined in Michael’s anger. He had been having more and more of these aggressive outbursts as is usually the case at this time of year. The next thing I knew he did something he’d never done before. He slapped me on the side of my head so hard my glasses went flying off and crashing to the floor.¬†For a split second I stared in shock at the floor where my glasses lay, then quickly picked them up. In a voice trembling with rage and an anger, I uttered that there is no hitting. He tried to hit me again and I stopped his hand, and then roughly pushed him into the couch directly behind him. We were in our living room. Now he was scared. So was I. I was holding tight to his arms and repeating in an angry voice no hitting. That’s when Michael started to yell I was hurting him. I immediately released his arms and told him I needed to go calm down in my room.

The other reason I went to my room to calm down was that I could not stop the angry thoughts going through my head and the rage and hurt that he had attacked me.¬†The tears came almost instantly¬†minutes after I was alone, and then they went on for over thirty minutes. Even after that though, they did not dissolve the anger. Why had I lost it? Where had ¬†I gone wrong? How had it escalated so quickly? I couldn’t even remember how the fight had started. So what did I learn from my Mommy Meltdown that afternoon? I learned to be honest with myself with where I was. I learned to check in with myself when I’ve neglected de-stressing things like exercise and not getting enough sleep. Like a lot of children with autism, regulating his emotions is one of Michael’s¬†greatest difficulties. But a rested, refreshed me would have known to stay apart from the storm and not take it personally. Yesterday morning after another tantrum that escalated, I helped Michael calm his storm. It took time, but was over with faster than last week’s. It was not easy, but what helped is, you guessed it, I stayed calm. I was feeling rested too, as I had slept well the night before. We even talked about strategies he needs to start using.¬†He left on the school bus with his usual kiss on the cheek and I love you from me and one back to¬†me.

Exceptional Parents, are you angry and ashamed to admit when you lose it with your children by yelling and joining their anger? Don’t be. All of us have been there as parents. Just remember you need to take care of yourself so that you can weather any exceptional parenting storm that comes your way, and show your child how to handle themselves too. And you know what, if you fail, you¬†and your child can discuss strategies for managing stress together. Until next time.

I¬†am a ¬†writer, speaker, and parent coach¬†at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance, http://www.exceptionalparenting.net. I¬† am passionate about¬†empowering parents to trust their own instinct when¬†raising their exceptional children with autism. I help guide them with the right tools for their children’s challenging behaviors, as well as help them see the beauty in their children again. ¬†Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and GooglePlus. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation Session with me, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparenting.net.¬†

One of the hardest and most stressful times of the year for special needs families is fast approaching. Are you and your exceptional family ready? Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety? Download my FREE EBOOK on ‚Äú5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY‚ÄĚ http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS

 

 

 

Snow, Snow and More Snow-The Joys of Sensory Play Outside

The first snow fell Sunday night into Monday. And, like any child, Michael was ecstatic when he woke up yesterday morning. He asked about building a snowman and was crossing his fingers about having time to play outside at recess. I promised him, regardless, we would do something outside after school. Unfortunately, he did not come home with his snow pants, but we still want to race in a nature park nearby and watch the ducks after our race and walk. Michael loves being outside and so enjoys the snow. He, as well as I, are looking forward to sledding, skating and doing all kinds of activities outside.

For exceptional kids who have many gross and fine motor challenges, being outside can be great to help them build up their muscles. Walking in deep snow or up a hill with their toboggan, skating, building a snowman and making snow angels, all work either the larger limbs of their body (gross motor), and/or hands, fingers and arms, (fine motor) skills ,in a fun way that gets them moving and releasing a lot of pent up energy. When Michael was a baby, being outside was difficult for him. The temperature and the feel of the snow was something weird, though he did enjoy eating snow, and actually, much to my frustration, still does. He also went through a period where he would be outside for ten minutes, then tell me he was tired and wanted to go in. I realize now that was his low muscle tone that had to build up tolerance to movement and coordination. But, as with everything else, once Michael built up that tolerance, did he ever go. Now, he is my little movement machine, loves to be active, and, as a plus, has gotten me to be active too.

Exceptional Parents, do you have trouble getting your little ones outdoors? Are they sensitive to light, cold or not liking to get dressed up in snow gear? Start slowly with small spurts of time outside so your child can build up tolerance to being outside. Do fun things with them. Remember what being a child was all about; making snow angels, building snowmen, running, your cheeks all nice and rosy, sledding. If they see you engaging in fun play with no pressure, they will eventually be curious enough to want to join in. Not sure how to do it? Sure you do. Just be yourself. They will be comfortable with you and eventually be able to be themselves. As always, trust your parent’s gut on how to do this. You know your child. Until next time.

Tired of anxiety controlling you and your child? Download my FREE EBOOK ‚Äú5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY‚ÄĚ http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS

 

How To Help Your Exceptional Child Navigate Rigidity and Control Issues

Michael is an amazing little boy. He has truly opened up my eyes to wonder, exploration, and the little things that matter; like how much fun it is to go for a walk in our neighborhood, to learning how to better navigate in my car, to paying closer attention to messages disseminated in the media on the news and in songs. He is a joy to talk with, and I love his questions. But there are days, days when the questions turn into arguments and protests, and he will say, funny as it sounds afterwards, “I am only getting upset because I don’t like what you are saying.” It is exhausting as a parent to handle, though I know it is not his fault. He feels very powerless in his world, and this is his way of trying to get some control back. Autism is a different way of seeing the world, and the world is not adapted to reflecting back security to someone with autism, particulary our crazy, fast-paced world, which is even hard on a lot of the non Exceptional population.

Like a lot of Exceptional kids who have autism, he can be quite rigid in his thinking and sees things as only how they affect him. His Dad and I are teaching him gently to be aware of feelings; ours, teachers, friends. It has its challenges for Michael and us. I also know that the rigidity is due to the overall anxiety he feels and lives with daily.¬†As Temple Grandin herself has explained, it often felt to her that she was living life at the edge of a cliff, where any minute she might fall down into the abyss. On days when Michael’s worries, arguments, and intense discussions wear me out mentally, I remind myself of this. He is living at the edge of that cliff, not me. I have lived with anxiety all my life, and even thought I had an anxiety disorder two years ago when I suffered my second of two burnouts. Though I don’t meet the criteria for an Anxiety Disorder, I did struggle with stress and managing my feelings all my life. In adulthood, I learned about exercise, meditation, and yoga and their benefits. These are tools that Michael’s Dad and I are showing him, hoping he will gravitate to some even if not all, and help himself to better handle control issues.

He loves to exercise, did yoga for a brief time, and is learning strategies like using fidget toys as well as incorporating his old tools of rocking swinging or bouncing to handle stress. Still, I know there are more things we would like to try and do to help Michael understand how his body and mind work. As always, these tools would help his Dad and I too to better understand his emotions and help him. At school, he is doing Cognitive Behavior Therapy, a children’s version, and that is proving to be extremely helpful in him dealing with challenging emotions.

Exceptional Parents, what tools do you use to help your child with anxiety and control issues? As always, traditional sensory methods, exercise, breathing techniques, and having the child learn to express their emotions, helps tremendously. Never be afraid to reach out and try new things, and as hard as it is for you as a parent on those tough days, don’t ever give up on your child. They need you to believe they can navigate the world on their own as you know they can and will. Until next time.

How are you and your special needs family handling the hour change and shorter days? If you are challenged by this, download my FREE EBOOK: ‚Äú5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY‚ÄĚ http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS

Keeping Busy and Having Choices-How This Has Helped My Son With Autism Handle Anxiety Better

Michael has a lot of anxiety. I have talked about this in previous posts, and will touch on it from time to time as it is an important part of what he and many other children with autism must live with every day. I constantly am amazed though by how well he does lately in handling his anxious thoughts and feelings. He is beginning to ask questions about techniques he could use, remembering he can’t hit his head, the wall, or other people or things, and where he can go to calm down. What most impresses me is how he is connecting activity and movement to regulating his emotions and calming down.

“Mommy, I changed my mind about baking tonight. Can we go to the park and finish playing tennis and bake another night. I need to move Mommy.”

I am so impressed with him and how he is learning to read his body and mind. I am impressed with how good his tennis game and other physical skills are improving, and even though I cringe when I hear how hard on himself he is when he misses the tennis ball, or gets stuck on a word in reading, I am calmly able to point out to him it’s ok, we all make mistakes. Lately, he has been saying it back to me if he hears me saying it to myself. What is striking me is how far he has come in identifying his feelings, his likes, and dislikes. He will tell me who his “real” friends are, “my best buddies are”, and who are friends that he is not as close to. He does not want hugs “because I am a big boy”, but at night wants cuddles for a few minutes. He is my baby, my preteen, and my teenager all in one.

Where we are still grappling with is Michael’s difficulty letting go of worrying about the future. He will come up with elaborate scenarios of what will go wrong, what he will hate on a field trip, at an activity, and I will have to remind him one day at a time. He will also experience something he does not want to hear from me, and will say, quite dramatically, “now my day at school will be ruined tomorrow.” Again, ¬†I tell him stories of how I used to think that way when I was little, and how I suffered a lot because of it when I did not need to. I teach him strategies like taking it one day at a time, looking at the positive things in his life, and venting about it for a bit before moving on. What is helping Michael ¬†is something I had completely overlooked prior to the last few months; giving him the floor to be heard and a choice of what he can say and do. That freedom is helping him handle anxiety a lot better.

Exceptional Parents, what kind of surprises do your Exceptional Children throw your way? How have they impressed you with their insight, ability to cope, and intelligence? Do you remember to give them a positive choice in how they could respond to things? Do you let them talk and have the floor? This will make a big difference in their ability to handle things in their world. Until next time.

Tired of anxiety controlling you and your child? Download my FREE EBOOK ‚Äú5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY‚ÄĚ http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS