Category: independence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Independence At The Least Likely Time-How To Balance Keeping Boundaries While Letting Your Exceptional Child Run Free

“I don’t want to go for a walk with you Mom. Maybe another day. I like my alone walks. Thanks.”

“Ok Michael, but remember to take your supplies, have your phone on, and remember to be home in an hour.”
“Ok. Bye. See you later!
“Have fun!”

“Thanks!”

This has pretty much been the drill for the last week. Michael has been going on long walks all by himself on the small streets, handling everything and getting home on time. In order to keep better track of him, Dad got him a phone where he can call us and he can be tracked by us so we know where he is. He is delivering on his promise to be home on time and stay safe. We allow  him solo bike rides as well now as he has demonstrated he can do it.

One part of me is overjoyed. My boy is growing up and does not need me as much anymore. Busy streets he will still go with me for a couple more years. He accepts this, but for now he is treasuring his independence and prefers to go alone. I don’t blame him. The other part of me misses our time talking during the walks. He is eager to still talk to me at home and do drives, but I loved sharing my love of fitness with him and have missed this during this week while enjoying the freedom it gave me to relax, catch up on work, or write.

What is it about the path that our children take when they are not children but yet not adults either? I am both overjoyed and fearful at the same time. I never knew if Michael would engage in this type of adolescent behavior. It’s hard to gauge with an exceptional tween/teen where they fall in the puberty/growing up department. It could be anywhere. I am glad to be having this trouble as I know a lot of parents of exceptional kid are wishing for things like this, but it is challenging as Michael may think he needs less limits as he is growing up, but due to still having difficulty with certain social cues and body language, there are still things I need to adapt for him and protect him from.

Walking the fine line between childhood and adolescence. This is where exceptional tween Michael falls and his parents fall with him. It is far from easy. I can’t baby this Michael. I am told frequently to stop nagging, stop treating him like a baby. Then when I do try to give him space to do his own thing, he will say, “why are you outside so much? stay here with me.” I have talked to him about boundaries, alone time and time spent together. I have shown through example how I will always make time for him and put my other things aside to listen. However, I also need downtime, time alone, to decompress, like him. More and more he has been respecting this. He asked the other day if I had had time to do my yoga. He was concerned I hadn’t.

As a parent, balancing being there with stepping back is a challenge. Still, the important thing to remember is to go with your child’s cues. If they need you and they are in the childhood part of their tween hood, be there for them. If they want more independence to show you they can handle things, give them space. Always have rules for them though. You are the parent, and they need to know that you are in charge of keeping them safe while they find their footing.

Exceptional Parents, how are you faring in finding the balance between letting your child be independent and putting in normal childhood boundaries? Remember, they need a bit of both to grow up healthy. Judge for yourself whatever stage they are at, what they need more, and go easy on yourself if your family hits a snag. Remember, you can work it out as you go along if your child feels your love for them. That is all that matters in the end. Until next time.

Helping Your Exceptional Child Take The Next Step Towards Independence- Why Pushing A Little Goes A Long Way

As I sat by on Saturday watching Michael do his  diabetes injections completely by himself, I have to admit after giving Michael a high ten, I silently thanked God that we had all arrived at the same place, trusting Michael to take on this big responsibility. In fairness, Michael has wanted to  do his own injections for about a year now, but due to some lingering behavior issues and past questionable treatment of the injection equipment, Dad and I told him that we were not ready to show him until he showed us more maturity in handling his anger and outbursts. Well, things are not one hundred percent perfect, but Michael has come a long way in handling his anger. I sat down with Dad one night about two weeks ago, and we decided he had earned the right to be trusted with medical equipment. After all, we have started trusting him to be left alone at home for short periods of time. He has been taking his own sugar for over a year too. It was time for this next step. And as usual, Michael did not disappoint when trust was placed in him. He never has.

It’s a tough decision for an exceptional parent-learning when your exceptional child is ready to take that leap forward. If you wait for the ‘perfect’ moment, it will never come. It’s like waiting for the perfect moment to do something big for yourself. You will always make excuses unless you take a leap of faith. Listening to your parenting gut, trusting that your child understands what they are taking on and the responsibility of whatever you are asking them to do, as well as a balance of you being available to jump in and encourage them if they get scared. There is never shame in that, whether you are a child or adult. If we had waited until all Michael’s behavior challenges were solved before moving forward, he would have lost out on an opportunity to see his maturity in that area. We also would have lost an opportunity to see more of  Michael’s strengths. I have our Educator to thank for giving me gentle nudges as well. I see how smart, competent and capable Michael is, but sometimes my old worries of pushing him out of his comfort zone would stop me from acting.

I was not totally wrong. Michael carries A LOT of anxiety and then navigating that with his anger issues become significant challenges for all of us. But if as parents and therapists we only get stuck on what is wrong and not on what  could go right, that negative mindset will transmit to your child. Michael’s Educator reminded us of not only rewarding the positive, but understanding that Michael wanted, like any tween, to be treated more maturely as he was growing up. Instead of always having power battles with a growing teenager, we could, in small doses, give him a little more control over his life so he could see where good choices led.

As Michael has gotten older, I have started pushing him a little more in all areas past his comfort zone. I have picked my battles of course, keeping in mind that Michael can advocate for himself what is too much and what with help, he can grow comfortable around. So far, this formula has started working, especially as he has asked for more independence and trust. Now I tell him, you need to show you are trying your best to manage your emotions. When we see that, we give a little more trust to trying out new things. The diabetes injections are just one of many things we have given over to Michael as he has increasingly started taking responsibility for himself and his actions, positive and negative. The other day he made a bad choice in what he said. Immediately he asked me, “Help me. I need help controlling what I say.” I told him we were getting him more help and that he would learn. We believe in him.

Exceptional Parents, how comfortable are you pushing your Exceptional Child past their comfort zone? It’s not always easy, and of course you have to take it slowly and proceed according to where your child’s development is. Never let anyone push you or your child past what you feel they are capable of. But, don’t ever forget to have full faith that if your child is showing most of the signs that they are ready to take on something big, you give them the chance to shine. Until next time.

Spring Fever-Exceptional Changes Over the Years

So we are officially in Spring, and have been for awhile actually. And this year is no exception to all the other years. Michael is acting weirder than normal. I see it in other exceptional kids as well. Our Educator re-confirmed to me tonight that she too sees kids with different brains having more challenging moments during these months. This was a consolation. I was worried as I find Michael has regressed with some of the ways he is dealing with anger and stress. I blamed a lot of it on his last medication, but now am wondering if I was wrong. There are a lot of ups and downs in our kids’ lives and different ages bring with it different challenges. For example, toddler hood to school age child is one challenge. Then school age to tween/teen is another one. I am going through this watching Michael as a tween/teen handle all the angst that goes with that. When he was little he needed to physically move only. Now, it seems he needs to vent verbally and probably move physically to get out his emotions. I have to be careful how I approach this subject, however. The reason is that Michael is rebelling against so much, he will probably try and rebel against me even if it is in his favor as I am Mom, the adult, and in some ways the enemy at this teen age, unlike cool friends or friends he wants to emulate. I don’t take it personally. In some ways, I even celebrate it. He is growing up. I just worry how to still show him I love him. I do this with words, gestures, and when I can sneak it in, a pat or tap on the shoulder. I say a lot of “I love you’s,” and “I am proud of you’s.” I hope it sticks. That’s all I can do.

I have always figured out what Michael has needed during the Spring months to balance out, even in the summer months. Each year is a learning curve though as Michael and his needs change. This year I can see he needs to learn better self-regulation and build on what he already has down pat, recognize when he needs to move physically, and when he needs to talk to an adult. I need to learn to step back more, yet be clear on what I expect him to do and be. I am getting better at this, but still have times when this is challenging and Michael and I run into friction. I am making an effort to be clear to him and honest to myself so I know where everything is going.

Long walks, sports in the park, organized and other, as well as exploring new hobbies and time spent with friends, are ways to help Michael continue to regulate, have fun, and get more confident with himself. I am looking to helping him learn to do things more independently from me this spring and summer, while still having fun mother/son time and mother and son alone time where each of us get to have our space.

Exceptional Parents, are your Exceptional Children experiencing spring fever? Are they out of sorts or acting strangely? Have a look at their activity level. See if they can switch things up by moving more, doing different activities, having more play dates, spending time alone finding interests, and in the end, make sure they know how to self-regulate and learn how their body and brain work and what they need to do to feel at their best. This is what will help curb things like aggression, behavior and outbursts. Until next time.

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

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

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

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

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

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

Finding the Balance Between Mother And Nurse To Your Exceptional Child

We are all nurses and caregivers to our children, whether they are exceptional or not. The title pretty much belongs to all parents, Moms in particular, who are usually jokingly referred to as the chauffeur, cleaning lady, teacher, parent and nurse/caregiver. But all of this takes on a whole new level for most Exceptional Parents whose kids have other underlying physical and psychological health issues. Everything from keeping track of medication, various doctors appointments outside of the usual yearly checkup, dental and eye checkup visit, as well as therapy visits for speech, occupational, physiotherapy and psychology/psychiatry can take its tole. In this role, parents (again usually Moms, though sometimes Dads too or a mix of the two), are always the expert and advocate of their child and the ones at all meetings and tabulating data and charts before said meetings. All in all, it can be utterly exhausting, and you wonder when you get to build a regular parent/child relationship with your child where you hope to gradually transfer over some of the physical and mental health care decisions to your child when they are older. It’s a long road, and one not entirely possible for some families to eventually do. Still, it’s important that parents remember that though you take care of your child medically, you are still their mother. This means as their mother, to the best of your capacity in that role, you help forge self-reliance, independence and advocacy so that they can do the best possible to take care of themselves one day.

I’ve had a lot of difficult conversations with Michael lately as has Dad about his diabetes. Michael has been resentful of the fact he can’t eat like his friends at one moment, then will go to the other extreme, as happened the other morning, and be super critical of my meal choices for him. In those moments I sigh with frustration at the unfairness of his rigidity in thinking I am making a mistake and causing his sugars to rise (sometimes this is true, sometimes it is not as I and Dad are still in the early phases of learning about carb counting and making the right balance of food choices etc.).  I have actually cursed diabetes out loud and the extra burden it has put on Michael and on Dad and I as parents. Don’t get me wrong.  I do not want any pity. No Exceptional Parent does. None of us want to know that we are heroes. We are not. We are simply parents doing what parents do, loving and taking care of our child the best we can. Our kids too are doing the best they can. I will take praise for Michael too as do most of my friends for their kids, as our kids do overcome so many challenges navigating a world that is foreign to them. But even our kids are kids at the heart of it all, and just want to belong, have friends, and be the best they can be.

So my point about finding the balance in being a mother and nurse is this; make your peace with where you are with your child in any given moment. If it’s a moment where you are resenting the nurse role, have yourself a good cry, throw some pillows around and ask another adult to step in and take over so you can have a break. If it’s a moment where you are feeling strong, remember to bond with them in the same way you did BEFORE you knew they had a diagnosis of any kind. Remember, first and foremost above everything else, they are your child. They have their own likes and dislikes. They have their own personality. They are their own little person with talents and struggles, just like you. Bring out their best. Show them how much you love them no matter what they do, because as your child, they are loved because of that. Take time to play, talk, and laugh together. As they get older this may get challenging, but carve out time alone together- at meals times, in the car on the way to activities, or just on the fly. You will find the balance in the same way you did when you were taking care of a newborn long ago. You will learn to multitask and prioritize what is important.

Exceptional Parents, how do you balance mother and nurse roles for your Exceptional Child? Do you take time for you and a personal life in there as well? It’s important to not only have some alone time away from parenting when you have a complex care needs child, but you also need to make time for being together with your partner, other family members and friends. When you have time away from your child, you will come back refreshed, come back full circle, and be able to have a clear definition of what being a well-rounded Exceptional Mom is like. 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! 

How My Exceptional Child Showed Me How To #TakeTheMaskOff

I am very impressed with the whole neurodiversity movement as a movement to show the world that kids with autism, ADHD, and any other so-called disability just have different brains and lots to offer the world if it gives them a chance. I have also learned how I, as a Mom of a neurodiverse child with a different brain and view of the world, have been guilty of masking. In the early days of Michael’s autism diagnosis, I was worried about his rocking and obvious physical movements. I was worried it would alert negative attention to him and get him labeled in a deviant way. I was wrong. Yes, people asked why he did that. People were curious. And many knew about autism. Some more than others. I am still overwhelmed by the people who “get” Michael in a way that took me time to get him. Sometimes they are people who are neurodiverse, of course. Other times though, they are people with their own challenges who just understand a kid who thinks outside of the box. When I started seeing more of myself in Michael, it both excited and frightened me. Wow. Now I had a responsibility to try and understand his brain which was different from mine, but yet, not all that different. I have anxiety. I sometimes shy away from people and talk too much, or not enough. I also felt different inside growing up. But back to Michael and this whole incredible movement of people who want the world not to regard them as less than, but as capable, in their own way.

Masking, at least from what I understand it to be, is pretending to “pass” and be something you are not, not autistic, not with ADHD, not with anything else. In other words, assimilate with the “normal” or “neuro-typical” people,  by behaving the same as them or not standing out. People who are exceptional can do this, but at a price. I have seen it in my own child, and it pains me. There is nothing to be ashamed of in being different. I proudly tell people Michael has autism and talk about the other ways his brain works differently, and I make sure to say that though it is sometimes challenging for his Dad and I to understand him, we respect him and want him to do what he needs to do to be the person he was created to be and do what he was meant to do here on earth.  I’d like to say I was always so enlightened to have practiced this, but no I was not. I tried to get him to “pass” as a baby, and when he did not as he got older, I did not venture out too far from our immediate family and special needs community.

As Michael has gotten older, he has done the venturing himself and taken me with him. I found myself telling him in hushed tones, “don’t stim too much with your toy. People will think you are being aggressive.” “This is the way to act so you don’t draw attention to yourself.”  “People with autism and people without share the world together and you can’t always expect them to understand you honey.” This was my fear talking. Fear of Michael getting bullied for being different, especially in light now of intense anxiety and other hyperactivity issues. It was also my fear of not being able to protect him and advocate for his uniqueness and amazing brain and abilities. Then, as usual, Michael surprised me with doing what I think I had  originally been prepating him for, and didn’t know it. Michael has started educating others about his autism and diabetes and other challenges. He explains to kids at parks why he stims. Today he shared a story at camp where kids asked him questions about his fidget toy and diabetes supplies. Michael went on to tell them about his autism, diabetes and suspected ADHD. He told them why he stims and why he carries the toy. They were interested. Some kids did make some negative comments, but a boy in the group who has a brother with autism said, “hey guys, leave him alone .People with autism need to stim. It helps them. It’s all good.” Wow. I also need to mention that he does not have a shadow or companion at the camp he is at now. This is the first year we have tried this, and he is doing well. He is literally out there in the world on his own, and I could not be more proud of how he is starting to advocate for himself. This is happening while he is struggling with coming to terms with so many other things.

After some difficult moments tonight, Michael shared this story with me and I felt humbled and in awe of him. He is so strong. I told him that I was so proud of how he is telling the world who he is. Yes, there have been moments he has tried to use his autism to get things his way, ” (and that will be another blog post) :), but tonight he showed me how important it is for people with autism to take that mask off. Yes, not everyone is comfortable to do it right away, but as parents and caregivers of special kids, we need to make the world see them not as disabled or less than, but as the capable individuals they are. The world needs people with autism and people with autism need to be able to be themselves at all times.

Exceptional Parents, do you embrace who your Exceptional Child is? Do you let them take the mask off in public as well as private or worry what people will say? It’s a process as a parent and as someone with an exceptional brain will tell you. It comes with time, patience, and humility. Be open to reading blogs and articles from people who have autism. Try and understand their world as they are working so hard to understand yours. Help society accept all differences as beautiful. Together, we’ll make the world a wonderful place. 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.

 

 

How To Handle The Unexpected And Go With Your Child’s Flow-More Life Lessons From My Exceptional Child

 

So Michael’s latest summer camp  experience did not work out. He felt bored at this camp, and though he was afraid to tell me at first, he found the courage this morning. I was sad, yet proud of him for having the strength of character to share his thoughts with me. I have been noticing more and more in the last month, how Michael is opening up to me more with questions, observations and in saying funny things. This warms my heart, though I have to say, having him home with me for the first time ALL DAY  today in a long while was a little overwhelming. You see, my child is a chatterbox and talks about many different topics all at the same time. His fast speech is matched by his fast physical pace. He is a boy with lots of energy. It has been a relief to me to see this side of him again.  Michael and Dad and I have had a tough two years handling his aggression and how to help him learn tools to handle it. With one medication in the fall that did not work, we then tried another one in January. It worked beautifully in calming him and helping him focus better when doing tasks as well as when doing sedentary things like watching a movie in a theater or homework. It worked so well for about four months, but then I started slowly noticing more side effects from the medication and his aggression gradually going up again.

One of the more concerning side effects was weight gain and stuttering. He has been a fluent speaker for years. But another thing it took time for me to see was his happiness seeming to diminish. He did not seem to have that same crazy energy and sense of humor as before. I missed it. I tried to tell myself, and at first it was easy, that he was better able to learn the therapy tools he was being taught to handle his anger, and he was calmer, However, he just did not look like my little boy. Friday night after a very difficult evening, I spoke to his psychiatrist and asked if we could take him off this medication. She agreed and told me what I needed to do. In three days time, he was off of it. I could not believe the difference. There has been very little aggression or anger, and when he has an episode he has been able to apply strategies to calm down on his own. He also is happy, really happy again. He is singing songs, dancing!

These are things he had stopped doing. One thing that has taken me time to get used to is the boundless energy that comes out in strange places, like today at a store he got overstimulated and started acting silly. A month ago, the incident would either not have happened, or would have been more low key. It took some adjusting in my parenting style to handle this type of behavior, but I also see that his time on this medication taught him how to slowly start applying the therapy strategies his Educator had introduced to him. It has been nothing short than amazing to see how he is blooming.

I have also seen how I am applying my parenting strategies differently too, understanding so much more now about his brain and how it works. It is not always perfect. There have been times I’ve lost my temper. Sometimes it was understandable. Other times, it was more about, “can you go to bed already because I need Mommy alone time,” also understandable, but more for me than him. Still, the unexpected, a bad night which was the final key to altering something major in Michael’s therapy, to handling him pulling out of an activity which I usually did not do as smoothly, has shown me how both Michael and I have grown in the past eleven months. The unexpected now does not frighten me as it used to, and Michael is slowly starting to learn that too.

Exceptional Parents, what unexpected things does your Exceptional Child teach you every day? It is usually the small things that we overlook at first, that are the eye openers that our child is growing up- how they talk about stress, how they ask questions or make statements,  how they look  or whether they speak of certain people or places in a positive way. Be present in that moment them. See how they handle themselves and what they do. Chances are they will help you learn to be more present in your parenting life and life in general. Until next time.
I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

Keeping The Emotional Bond and Handling The Distance Of Your Exceptional Child

So puberty has hit our household, and with it comes new demands and issues-hormonal and otherwise. Michael still needs my love and hugs, but I can see the times he is starting to pull away from me and Dad, in a healthy way. Then there is the not so healthy turning to friends and peer groups that offer the challenges of silliness, swearing and other “forbidden” at home topics. This is where I am still getting my feet wet as an exceptional mom, but getting there. I find myself asking the question Michael’s preschool teachers first told me to ask myself when he was three years old, “if he did not have any  challenges, would you dress him or have him learn to dress himself?” Now the question is at eleven years old, “if he did not have any challenges, would I be telling him who to hang around with or what not to say?” Of course, the answer to both questions is yes, I would be doing my best to teach Michael independence, and if he made a mistake with dressing or choosing the wrong crowd, step in and gently steer him in the right direction. I am lucky that he is still listening and values his bond with Dad and I.

Of course, he still needs to learn from mistakes. When he got in trouble at school for being silly with a friend and lost his recess by having to stand on the wall, he was very upset. He told me it was not fair. I told him that he was warned by the teacher on duty if he continued not listening the consequence would be no recess the next day. He had to pay that consequence for not heeding the warning. Yes, he has attentions issues and hyperactivity.  Yes, he has autism and some rigidity issues. But that is not an excuse to not follow the rules. At home as well, Dad and I are seeing a lot of “tween” rebellion. It is both exciting and stressful along with navigating other things. However, I have to think. He has to go through puberty with us, his neuro typical parents, who although can relate to some of his stressors, cannot truly know what is inside his head. We are all learning together. We are learning to continue confiding in each other, giving each other space, and forgiving one another when we make mistakes.

Exceptional Parents, how are you faring in puberty if you are at that stage? Is it harder than the delayed terrible two’s? Remember, your child is feeling things twice as intensely as you, so compassion is in order as well as patience with them and yourself. Treat your child as you would any child, while at the same time keeping in mind that some things may need to be tweaked or adapted in helping our kids understand their emotions more clearly. Until next time.

 

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

Patience, Patience and More Patience- 5 Ways Our Exceptional Kids Can Learn This Lesson and Teach It To Us Too

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Today for the millionth time in the day I thought to myself how many times Michael teaches me patience and how to hold on to the better part of myself. He does this by, you got it folks, testing me left, right and center. It’s the same with all children, and some adults for that matter. Most people have their issues to work through, and some when they see they can get a rise out of you, well, they do their best to get that rise. Kids who are exceptional are not only capable of this, but often seek it out due to low thresholds of tolerance for stress, sensory issues or just not really understanding the social cues of the neuro typical world. I often remind myself, and have been lucky to have been reminded of this with the professionals who have worked and work with our family, that Michael and kids like him are wired differently from birth. The way they view our world, is through their lens, similarly to how we from the neuro typical world view their world from the inside out. “Do you see me? Do you really see me?” becomes the mantra for how both of us perceive each other. However, with respect, true respect for our differences, strengths and weaknesses, we can help one another so much.

Every day, even on the days I have felt like a failure as a Mom, Michael has shown me how courageous I am and how courageous he is. Michael has pushed us both out to sea and found an island for us to live on. On this island, the sky is the limit as I know it will be for Michael. . The two of us are adventurers in this sea of life, as I think all parents of all children are. However, what is important to hold on to is how our kids will help us build patience when we feel we can’t go on. In what ways will they do this? Here are some of those ways:

1) They will make us face our fears: Exceptional kids have to face their fears and in doing so, they push us exceptional parents to face our fears too. Over and over I have had to face what has been uncomfortable for me to face and you know what, it has helped me grow and become stronger. The same will happen for you!

2) You will learn to see EVERY child as an individual: Every parent of every child knows their child is an individual before anything else. But sometimes all of this gets lost when we are busy fighting with them to finish their homework, be polite like so and so, listen like so and so. Of course, it is important that all our children follow rules and learn to get along in the world, but if we don’t hone who they are as individuals and patiently wait to see what they will make of that, we are not doing them or ourselves any favors.

3) They will help you learn what your triggers are: Oh yeah on that. Little kids know what set us off, and if we can figure out what kind of people push our buttons, we are truly ahead of the game as parents and human beings. Michael has shown me how to go to find my happy place, go to it, and how to help him find his way to his, or at least give him the map to do so.

4) You will have oodles of energy to handle other people’s issues in your life thanks to your child: I cannot say enough how overall Michael has helped me learn to help and commiserate with many other adults and children around me and have patience for them. I always say, like Michael, like me, these people struggle to find patience. Let me be someone who helps them along the way.

5) If you let them, your child will let you learn to laugh at the craziness of life: This was a hard one for me several times in my life, but as I become more experienced as a Mom and Michael grows up, I feel that life with an Exceptional Child, can be an adventure where there are lots of laughs and craziness in a good way, if we let those feelings in. It is not always easy or possible, but Michael is showing me more that I need to learn to laugh at the craziness of life in order to be able to move forward.

 

Exceptional Parents, how has your Exceptional Child taught you patience? Remember, one day at a time will help you focus on all your child is and all you are in order to be your best and strongest. You are both in this adventure for a reason. Until next time.