Category: Holiday tips

Exceptional Halloweens and How To Make Sure Your Child Stays Safe and Calm

So over the years you could say I have learned what NOT to do on Halloween with Michael. He has, of course shown me what does not work. I have also, sometimes with planning, sometimes accidentally learned what does work to make the evening enjoyable and safe. Discussing in advance how far out and how long you will stay out walking, for example, is one important thing to do. This avoids fights and meltdowns over when to come home. Another good thing is going over the “trick or treat” script with your child as well as what is the social protocol when someone opens the door. I had forgotten to tell Michael when he was little NOT to walk into the house and start chatting. Some kids are social and don’t understand that this is not proper and could even be dangerous.

As far as what I accidentally learned though, that was more interesting. I learned, for instance, that Michael could see scary costumes and decorations and actually like them. I also learned that Michael has a lot more walking stamina so I make sure to be rested and dressed warm for our Halloween outing. I also learned that he likes to give as much as get. He really enjoys giving out the Halloween candy to the trick or treaters before heading out himself.

On that note parents, here are some things to remember when planning your Halloween outing:

  1. Make sure child knows the Halloween protocol for safety and security.
  2. Make sure you have a set start and end time to avoid meltdowns.
  3. Make sure your child knows the social rules of trick or treating.
  4. Be prepared for your child to teach you things about what they like and don’t like.
  5. If possible, invite a friend to go with your child. It’s company for them, and company for you too with another adult present. ūüėČ

Exceptional Parents, what are your tricks of the trade for a successful and happy Exceptional Halloween? Remember, even if last year’s was a disaster, you can learn from what went wrong. You now know what NOT to do, and you can gently show your child too. The most important thing to remember is to be safe, rested and stay together. Getting an early start and finishing before everyone is too tired is also important. In the end, your instinct as a parent will help to guide you best on how to help your child have a fun time. Happy Halloween! Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD ¬†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,




Educational Halloween Fun With Your Exceptional Child


It’s almost that time of year again-Halloween! Even with all the issues we are going through as a family, one of Michael’s favorite holidays is Halloween. He loves the whole premise of the costumes, trick or treating, as well as decorating for the holiday. Don’t all kids! As he gets older,¬† I try to use holidays as teaching opportunities to work on things like reading, math or other subjects.¬† There are so many good sites out there where parents can find interesting educational tools to practice teaching concepts in a fun way with their children. One of my favorite sites is They have lots of puzzles, word searches and other holiday themed sheets where kids can have fun and learn at the same time.

When your child is having a good day or is bored and needs something to keep busy with on a cold fall day in October, the following worksheet could be a great choice. Worksheets like this are also wonderful for teachers who can use them in the classroom to make learning fun as kids will be practicing grammar around a favorite holiday:

As a Mom, I love sharing new tools and sites to help exceptional families. I hope that you find these tools helpful and fun when learning and spending quality time as a family. I also hope it helps engage your child’s learning and imagination to the fullest.

Exceptional Parents, how do you make learning fun for your Exceptional Child? Remember, no matter what tools you use, follow their pace, level of interest and engagement. You will always be successful if you go that route. Until next time.

Disclosure Statement: I received the  PDF samples included in this blog post from for review purposes only. I was not compensated in any way for my writing. The opinions stated here are solely my own.

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

For more information on my coaching services, see my website:, and for a free 30 minute consultation session contact me at Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK ‚Äú5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY‚ÄĚ click on


Summer Fun For Exceptional Families-Finding The Balance

As usual but in a different way, Michael had a difficult start to the summer and me with him. Every year there seems to be something that carries over. I also know that the break of routine with school is hard for him, as much as he likes to be home. He also likes to be busy. Anyone who knows Michael and our family, knows that we keep him busy. He is a curious, energetic and social kid. Staying home is not for him. Even with the emotional struggles he has been going through, I have noticed that, as always, there is his spirit of resilience. He is so hard on himself. He fears a lot. Yet he is one of the most fearless people I know. I tell him this. I tell him, “you are my hero. I admire your energy, your excitement about learning new things. And now, I’m not sure if it’s maturity, puberty, or something else, but he is more conscious of how he wants to self-regulate and control his emotions. He pretty much likes the same activities he liked as a child, but now has the patience to stay at them longer. It’s great, and especially on those days when your child is stressed, keeping them active can really help with regulation.

Here are my suggestions for fun inexpensive things to do with your exceptional tween over the summer:

  1. Swimming at local pool or splash pads: This is a must with our hotter and hotter summers. Michael now could spend a good two to two and a half hours or more frolicking at these places.
  2. Parks playing sports: Yes, he will still go on swings and slides, but does not like the little parks with no fields anymore. His main interest is playing soccer in the field, and possibly tennis and basketball in the courts with me or a friend.
  3. Library: He loves to read tween literature and fantasy to boot! He reads to me now, and when he stumbles over words, it’s a great time to bond while I explain it to him.
  4. Art: Painting, clay or any other means of self-expression is something a child this age can do to burn off steam
  5. Movies: Yes, once our kids are able to sit still calmly and focus, take them to matinees. It’s a great way to pass the afternoon.
  6. Structured activities: Most communities now have adapted sports activities for kids though some exceptional kids do fine with smaller teams. We always do soccer, and sometimes tennis over the summer. There are lots of options. See what interests your child.
  7. Camp: Even if it’s not for a long time, camp usually gives exceptional kids a different chance to be active, meet new faces, and grow. There are lots of options.

Exceptional Parents, how are you looking to keep your little ones busy? The most important thing to do is balance out unstructured time at home with a camp or structured activity. This usually means that kids get a balance and are happier over the summer when¬† a lot of their regular structure is gone. Here’s to good times ahead with your child. Until next time.

Surviving and Thriving On Vacation With Your Exceptional Family

It is upon us once again, our family vacation. I am both looking forward to it and worrying a bit, in equal measures, though I have to say, the older Michael gets and the more experience I get handling things with him, the more comfortable I feel as we head out on family vacation. We also do a series of little day trips, followed recently by one overnight trip. It’s exciting and scary, but we manage. We also make sure wine is readily available, but I digress. ūüôā The thing I’ve learned is, to always expect the unexpected, both good and bad. I find that when Dad and I are flexible and go with Michael’s flow on family vacation, we all have a better time. It’s important not to have a concept of a perfect family vacation. That was me two years ago and back. I would always be disappointed when I or one of the boys did not act as I had hoped. Another thing is to try to prepare tools to help Michael as much as Dad and I can PRIOR to the trip. The rest has to be in God’s and the Universe’s hands. If it does not go well, we learn from it. If it does, we repeat it again. Forgiving ourselves and forgiving each other is the best way to make sure we can salvage what we can and/or still have a great time.

Michael loves the predictable day trips, but as he gets older, he also enjoys some novelty. He needs to feel in control with the navigation part. We learned that the hard way about a week ago going to a local fun center. Most of the stress occurred on the drive down, not in the park itself. We also need some down time outside to move in nature. There will be walks, swimming, and some outdoor picnics for sure. Finally, I have learned that I need to make sure I will have my personal space this holiday. That means time alone at night, even the five to ten minutes to meditate, read or write poetry or my fiction.¬† Self-care is something I am learning more about every day. Every little bit of “me time” helps me do better family time. My boys respect me more when I respect myself, and Michael especially benefits when both his Dad and his Mom are healthy and balanced all around.

This weekend will be about structuring the week on our trusty dry erase board, leaving room for changes and life can be unpredictable, making sure to get enough rest, (you need LOTS of energy on family vacays in our house), and just remembering to breathe and release the negative, and take in the positive whenever we can. I am also learning to trust that God and the Universe has our back. There is always a better way to see things and that is the way I am heading into this family vacation.

Exceptional Parents, how do you do on family vacations? Do you run for them with open arms or dread them or fear them? Remember, there will always be ups and downs, kind of like in life. The important thing is to choose to see the positive and the blessings your child shows you. By living in the moment each day, you’ll have way more fun with your child no matter what happens. Also, remember that when times are tough I always remember Nelson Mandela’s great words of wisdom: “I never lose. I either win or I learn.”¬† Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.

For more information on my coaching services, see my website:, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK ‚Äú5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY‚ÄĚ click on

New Things to Do To Have An Easier Holiday With Your Exceptional Child

I sometimes forget how hard it will be for Michael over the Christmas holiday period, even with the structure we do put in. He gets overwhelmed by the all the activity, food and open time, plus this year a few extra birthday celebrations were added in. It has been too much for him and too much for Dad and I. We attempted to have a quiet New Year’s Eve in to make things easier on Michael, but it backfired in a big way. Maybe the distraction of people would have been better. Two days into the New Year and I and Dad are exhausted. With another week to structure and keep him busy, I have learned several things to keep in mind for next year. We will try in the hope that it will help us and Michael enjoy the holiday more:

  1. Schedule in a downtime activity every day: Crafts, movie etc. I am going to insist he do that so as parents we can have a breather as much as him.
  2. Look into a winter camp for a few days: He may need some artificial structure before school particularly on a long break.
  3. New behavior tools in place (which we have started doing): Whatever behavior tools you have in place may need to be modified as your child grows and matures.
  4. More time for me to chill: I admit it. My self-care sucked last week. The moments I wasn’t with Michael I was working, so by New Year’s Eve I was mentally fried. Next year, I will remind myself to take time to relax at night, not work.
  5. Make time to really be present for Michael: This sounds like a contradiction to many of the points above, but really I know, we all know that challenging behavior happens when our kids feel we are listening to them otherwise. Where is he getting this message? Maybe our time together feels forced to him or he is testing his strength in the family. Either way, Dad and I are making an effort to really be with him when we are and asking him to share what feelings he can since he is capable.

Exceptional Parents, what do you plan on doing differently for the next holiday if your holidays were rough or are still going rough with your Exceptional Child? As a matter of fact, you can start implementing many of these strategies right now in yours and your child’s daily life. Remember 2017 is your chance at a fresh start. Until next time.

I¬†am a writer and parent coach¬†at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance.” I¬†am 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, see my website:

Do you want to make new changes to your anxiety management strategies in 2017? Download my FREE EBOOK on ‚Äú5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY‚ÄĚ






Keeping the Balance on Holiday with Exceptional Kids

Balance. That is challenging even for us neuro typical people over the holidays. After all, the holidays are all about parties, overeating, sleep and wake schedules altered so forth. Even if you are back at work in between as are many people, there is still the challenges above to contend with. Now, imagine our exceptional kids. Sometimes it’s hard when we are struggling as their parents to adjust. What are the best ways to make the adjustment to the holidays as easy as possible? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Keep same sleep/wake schedule as much as possible: Try to keep the same sleep/wake schedule as much as is possible. This will mean your child and you will be that much more rested to handle things.
  2. Plan out week or two on paper: This really helps our family. We plan out on paper in advance what we will be doing. It helps cut down on the anxiety for Michael and us. Of course plans change so it is a rough schedule and we explain that. At least he has a guide to go with though.
  3. Make sure to have a mix of activity and downtime for all family: Over scheduling is something we used to do as Michael needs to be busy a lot and that would often backfire. Even he needs his downtime particularly as he gets older and I see how anxious he is. Make sure it is clear to child and parents when is down time and when is activity time.
  4. ¬†Keep your sense of humor: Patience parents and laugh at the little things. Kids will be kids and yes being home with them will sometimes magnify little bad habits and you will get annoyed and yell. Remember, they are doing their best. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  5. Enjoy unique family activities done at this time of year-make it a tradition. Maybe it’s a holiday movie with popcorn, maybe a sledding day with lunch out, ¬†maybe it’s caroling or a New Year’s Even party or baking, whatever, enjoy positive family activities that are part of this time of the year.

Exceptional Parents, how do you keep the balance with your Exceptional Kids? Remember, a little bit of rest and a little bit of activity is usually the way to go. Do what feels right for you and your family.  And as hard as this time of the year is, try and enjoy the fun times with family. If your child senses your calm state of mind, they will usually follow suit. Until next time.

Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety? Download my FREE EBOOK on ‚Äú5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY‚ÄĚ




The Push Pull of Challenging Behavior-How Exceptional Kids Test For Love

Every December things seem to come to a head in our household, and not in a good way. I’m not sure if it’s the excitement of Christmas, Michael’s birthday, or Dad’s and my increased excitement and stress moving¬†around getting last minute things done before the holidays, but his challenging behaviors seem to worsen. Last year was the worst December for us as the weather was warm and Spring like. For Michael, it spelled confusion-no snow to play in, weird thundershowers and dressing. I was not prepared for his reaction to it. I found myself bawling on Christmas Eve for the end of vacations. This year I am readt. I have always seen a pattern, and how at holidays Michael, like all exceptional kids, has more difficulties with filtering out things around him. Every year I know I have to be on alert to some extent to help Michael navigate this difficult time. I am prepared and ready to help Michael, with the rest of his team at his school and beyond, learn to manage the increasing rise of anxiety and his need for control, especially at this time of the year.

I am always reading and learning about new things, new ways to help Michael. Most parents know that kids test with challenging behavior for several reasons. They want to escape doing something they don’t like, ¬†they are in pain of some sort and can’t communicate it, and they are looking for attention. Michael, like all kids, has at one point acted out for all of these reasons and still does. He is smart and finds our triggers all the time. Then, it’s a matter of Mom and Dad not reacting. I see his challenging behavior happening more now as a way to find his place in the world. His need for control is so great, down to every last detail of where we go, how he needs to help close doors, what we say. It is exhausting for him and us. Teaching him it is alright not to know, that Dad and I are in charge to help him, is what we are working on along with getting him to manage his anger when it bubbles over. Anger is alright.¬†Screaming, hitting and yelling are not. It is all about consistency in everything with both parents doing things exactly in the same way. For Michael, we cannot budge an inch. Not always easy. We are learning. We have our good days and bad, but Dad and I now check in, I let his school know when we have tough days and they are a great support and we go from there. Most important, I don’t have any expectations of perfection from Michael, myself, or his Dad. We go with the flow and laugh at the little things. We respect each other, and I keep in mind that we can still enjoy this time of year, but need to be realistic that the days won’t always go smooth. We cross that bridge when we come to it.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle challenging behavior as the holidays approach? Do your best to keep your child organized and give them outlets for their energy- sports, play outside etc and try to connect with other exceptional families, in person but even online. Remembering you are not alone is essential. Most important of all, check in daily with yourself and your partner, how you are both doing emotionally. Take care of your own mental, spiritual and physical health. Be firm about aggression, but try and remember that when things are going well, to emphasize that with your child. They will take away some positive examples from the holidays and relax a little too. Until next time.

I¬†am a writer and parent coach¬†at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance.” I¬†am 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. You can 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, see my website:

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


Beaches, Waterparks and Picnics: Final Stay Cation Unwinding as A Family

So this weekend we are planning the last of our family staycation trips as it is, well, the end of our family vacation. I have been working in between and Dad has been running errands, but for the most part, it has been family or Mommy/Daddy time with Michael.¬†¬†The beach should be fun as it always is. We eat out in the sunshine, frolic in the water (ok it’s more of me chasing Michael down the beach or in the water and beach), and then we head home. This year he has his last soccer game and an awards and dinner party in the evening as well. It will be a long fun day to be sure and one I know we will all enjoy. We are also planning a trip to a local zoo and splash park as well as a family picnic in a beautiful area close to our home. Michael loves being outside in nature and enjoying the simple things. This gets easier as he gets older.

What I love is how we can do more of these things now as a family that he is older and Dad and I worry less than we used to. We need to structure as much as we can and go over strategies so Michael does not get overwhelmed, but he understands what is expected, has a higher tolerance for staying somewhere longer than before, and is surprisingly easy with changes like moving an outing to a day when it is not raining. A couple of years ago there would have been meltdowns and screaming. Now, he is calm and handles it beautifully.

We are trying to get him involved in picking more active things to do as a family, sports, walking and it is paying off. Michael and I have gone for some long walks, bike rides, and Dad has taken him to a few parks. We are all slowly winding down to the end of the week when routine and structure will slowly be put back into place to our relief, and though Michael is complaining about school, it will help him as well.

Exceptional Parents, what plans do you have for the last weekend before back to school? Are your kids excited about school? Are you? As long as you have been discussing the transitions and preparing them as best you can, you will not go wrong. On the other hand, some kids will do better with a little less prep. It will mean less to worry about. You know your child. You know yourself. Trust in what works for your Exceptional Family. Until next time.


Feeling stressed about fall and back to school? You are not alone. Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO MANAGE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” here:¬†

How To Plan Out Your Exceptional Family’s First Overnight Trip Together

Alright¬†wish us luck. We will be going soon for our very first overnight family outing together. In a hotel. The three of us. With Michael’s sleep routine being slightly altered, and all of us sleeping in the same room. I hope it works out, but I am optimistic like never before. We have been talking about it. We will be planning out the two days, one night trip as much as possible in advance, and we will, as always, be bringing Michael’s tools to help him: sensory brush, squeeze or fidget toys, offering him breaks, and using our beloved token system for a reward offered at the end of the day before bedtime. I will also be¬†crossing toes, fingers and any other body part that it all works out.

A friend of mine told me a while ago, “when Mom is ready, the child is ready.” Most of my Mom friends of Exceptional Children have all taken family trips overnight, in an airplane or car, and did what other families did. Not us. Dad and I were not ready. Now we are. I also feel that Michael is ready. He is nervous/excited but older, able to tell us his needs and wants more clearly, and even when we fight or have a rough time, all us have strategies, better strategies to cope. This wasn’t the case a year, two and more ago. Maybe I had strategies, or Dad or Michael, but not all of us had our strategies intact. On that note, here are some ways that are helping our family best prepare for our first overnight trip out of town:

  1. Pack bags in advance with clothes, toys and portable sensory equipment : This is a no-brainer, but really do it as much in advance as possible. And bring clothes, snacks, games, fidget toys, and other tools that will keep your child calm and regulated. Trust your instincts and leave nothing behind.
  2. Bring snacks, water, Lysol and baby wipes IN DROVES: This is important as well. I learned the lesson a hard way a few years ago when we were stuck on a beach and his hands were dirty and I did not have enough of the above wipes to sanitize. Good we were with a friend who gave us some of hers.
  3. Bring jackets, rain gear in case of unpredictable weather: This goes without saying, but bring for everyone. You don’t want to get stuck in a storm and get drenched.
  4. Make sure to have emergency cash and small change: This comes in handy so you can allow the occasional treat for your child or yourself.
  5. Take child’s comfort toys books for bed: Make sure they have what they need to be comfy for as similar a nighttime routine as you can get.
  6. Write out social story and plan out as much as you can in advance: This is important if it is your first time. We are writing out a general plan and allowing for modifications. Michael will make some, we will make some, and we will remind him of unpredictable things that could happen and what he can use as his tools to cope.

The most important thing to do is be as organized in your bags and as concrete in your plans as possible. Children, all children, gravitate to a steady plan and a steady hand. Mom and Dad need to be on the same page all the time, or do their best to get back there if they veer off. We all do, and there is no shame. Do your best.

Exceptional Parents, how did you handle your first away trip or are you still contemplating whether the family is ready? Whatever you do and wherever you are, remember. You know your child and family best. You know when all of you are ready for the next adventure. Always trust that feeling and adjust as you go along. Until next time.

Are you having a tough anxious summer in your family? Looking for new tools and strategies to handle anxiety, yours or your child’s? Download my FREE EBOOK on 5 WAYS TO MANAGE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY here:¬†

Nature Walks and How to Make Your Child’s So Called Obsession Work for Your Family

Michael loves directions. I have blogged about this countless times already, due to several factors: It sometimes drives me crazy and I need to vent. It is a new skill we are proud of encouraging. AND in today’s blog post, it is something Dad and I are incorporating into our family vacation this year. Yes, you heard me right. We are using Michael’s love of directions to get him to do a longer nature walk with us in one of our favorite parks near our home. Michael loves to walk around our area, and likes to point out the various streets and intersections. Why not combine this skill with the whole family having a nice morning walk in the fresh air followed by a picnic outside later on? So this is what we are trying. And this year, Michael is excited about it like never before. He wants to walk and navigate, and I’m happy to say, he may even develop a love of nature along with it. This is an example of a simple day trip we are doing to keep things fun.

How many parents don’t acknowledge their kids’ obsessions or run from them? It’s a stretch, but there are sometimes ways to incorporate what they love and embrace family activities at the same time. For example, do you have a budding chef? So if you can take him to one of those restaurants where they cook the food right in front of you. Do you have a child who is obsessesed with blocks? A trip to a Lego museum or an architectural exhibit where building is discussed could pique their interest. A kid who is obsessed with history, planets, water, sea creatures? There are aquariums, zoos and tour. Yes, that is something else we are looking into for Michael. Doing a walking tour. The only problem I worry about¬†is Michael trying to take the microphone away from the tour guide and take over, but I digress.:)

Exceptional Parents, do you often hear from professionals who discourage you from attending to your child’s obsessions? Does it make you feel sad as that is a connection you can bridge with your child and you feel like you aren’t taking advantage? I agree with that line of thinking. And by obsessions I don’t mean anything dangerous or violent, but I think that any co-called obsession can be turned into a passion and used to connect kids to caregivers and the outside world. Once that happens, everyone benefits and the child can truly show his/her intelligence and exceptional abilities to the world. Try it. I’m sure it will only yield to positive things once you and your child meet at their area of interest. Until next time.