Category: puberty

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

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 He is going from a very extroverted social kid to being a little more withdrawn and not wanting to be in big places doing big things like in the past.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

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

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

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

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Enjoying Every Stage of Your Exceptional Child’s Development

As I sit and write this post I am both happy and sad. Happy that Michael is deep in puberty and pushing away from Dad and I as any normal tween almost teen would do. He is asking to do more things alone and for more independence which is a good thing. Then there are the surly comments, the sighs when Mom or Dad ignore him, all part of the program too. I laugh these off. While I didn’t expect all of this to be occurring before 13 years old, I also did not expect to be missing some of the things I used to be annoyed about- taking him to three different parks a day, having to supervise him and listen at the “Look Mommy” every three seconds, and doing things alone this year that last year he couldn’t wait to do like walking up the street at the park on the track only breaking for Michael to go running into the splash pad. We had to stay till the park pretty much was deserted at  9 pm.

This year, he will occasionally come to the park for a walk with me, but is too old for the splash pad. It’s understandable on both fronts, but as I walked the track myself tonight enjoying the fact I could go around as many times as I wanted to and not have to sit with all the noisy kids at the splash pad, I felt strangely sad. That phase of Michael’s life is over and we have moved into the next phase. I wasn’t ready, but it happened. Did I enjoy him enough at that age? I think I did and now I must let go. The same thing happened at other ages as he outgrew toddler hood the little boyhood, but with those I do not remember being anything but happy. A friend of mine used to tell me how sad she was that her baby was growing up. I couldn’t relate to that. As much as I enjoyed many moments in baby and toddler hood, there was more stressful moments, sleepless nights, and of course, Michael’s diagnosis, so I was glad to be moving forward to better communication, toilet training and other things. But now I actually am starting to see it, the growing up phase, with all the pros and cons, and reminding myself that it is normal to feel loss, but that life goes on.

It’s important to love and appreciate your child at every stage, spend time with them doing quality things, whatever matters to them at that particular age. Though he is not all cutesy cuddly anymore, he still wants to share things with me, spend time with me doing walks and bike rides, and cares about what I think. In some ways this age needs you more than ever to set the stage for how they will handle themselves as adults. I am ready and proud of Michael. For all the areas of struggle, he has made so many more surges forward into independence. I reminded myself that tonight after a busy day at his sports camp he chose to chill out with his music and videos as he deserved too. Enjoy and respect every age and you won’t have regrets as a parent.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle the ups and downs of your Exceptional Child’s growth? Remember, they are on their own curve. Respect that curve, love them, and be there for them as support cheering them on. As long as they know you are in their corner, you can’t go wrong. Until next time.

Navigating Puberty With My Exceptional Son- 5 Ways I Am Surviving

Well, as each day goes by I see how Michael is truly moving into little man, category. Sometimes it is cute little man, sometimes angry little man. Yep, he is progressing so far into puberty that I wonder what thirteen and up will look like. Oh boy. Time for the wine. All jokes aside, it is refreshing to see him wanting more independence and not being shy to ask for it, there are also the times he is socially inappropriate, sometimes in a funny, sometimes in an annoying way, and then I too wonder too, should I give him more independence or keep him a little reigned in?

Sometimes the answer is easy. When he is angry and testing, of course more parenting guidelines are needed. But what about the times he is calm, in control and asking for more responsibility?
“Mommy, when are you going to start leaving me home alone for more than an hour?”
We talked about this as I tried over Spring Break for a half hour and he did well. We have talked about this in the same vein as we have talked about showing him how to do his insulin injections. Dad and I need to see that he is able to manage his anger, anxiety, and self-regulate without our interventions. We also need to see him being responsible with taking care of his things. As is typical of teens (and particularly ADHD kids), Michael misplaces a lot of things, forgets where he puts stuff, and has a hard time organizing. I know some of it is part of how his brain works, and some is partly our fault as parents who organized things for him when he was younger so he could be on time for school, activities and other functions. It was easier on everyone, but now we need to start doing the hard work. Now, I am starting to realize how important it is to slowly make him responsible as a “big kid” for himself. This means showing him what is involved in making his own lunch, double checking his school bag at night, making sure his clothes are put away in his drawers. He has helped with all of these things in the past, but I must admit, after puberty and then diabetes hit, I took shortcuts. I still do. I realize now that we have to start making changes and showing Michael that they are in his best interests. Once summer hits, I plan to start working more seriously on these things. Now with the end of the school year looming, there is the usual Spring Fever, plus we are trying out a new med. Enough said.

But for any parents out there trying to survive and keep their sense of humor with their exceptional tween, here are my 5 survival tips:

1) Get enough rest , exercise and self-care : Sleep and take time to recharge in other ways. You’ll need it for all the extra curve balls you’ll get.

2) Encourage them to find their own self-regulating tips: This may not meet with what you think they need to self-regulate, but if what they are using seems to work, let them use it.

3) Keep lines of communication open: This is a tough one. There are days Michael keeps me talking for a half hour, other days like today he said, “Don’t ask about my day,” when I asked for highlights. Just make sure they know you are available to listen and that they come first.

4) Teach them to respect you: This is a biggie. As the Mom of an exceptional tween who has been aggressive and occasionally still is, respect for you and for overstepping propriety needs to be reinforced calmly and steadily. You’ll know you’re having success when they are truly sorry for overreacting and apologize. It’s important you insist they do and then move forward. It is forgotten.

5) Don’t forget to laugh at the good moments and learn from the bad ones : I know when I am no longer laughing about things, I am in trouble. It’s important to treasure the good moments with your child and when the bad moments are over, learn what you can do differently the next time and teach your child to do differently.

Exceptional Parents, what are your tips for navigating your Exceptional tween in puberty? If laughter, rest and good self-care for you and them are on your list, you will be in good company. Remember always, you are not alone. Also, reach out to other exceptional people and see what they experienced during puberty. There are blogs and articles written, and we parents can learn a lot about how the inner autistic and other exceptional minded individual person thinks by being inside that mind through a blog, video or article. Until next time.

 

 

New Meds, New Exceptional Beginning?

Parenting an exceptional child is a challenging business, both for the exceptional child and their parent. As I begin to understand even more about Michael’s brain, I begin to see how he needs help in controlling his impulses, therapeutically and medically. And now the problem lies in finding the best treatment plan that will help him all around. The medication we have tried up to now did not help him like we had hoped. We are doing our best as parents to apply the strategies we have learned to help Michael control himself or learn from his mistakes. We also are learning better how to control ourselves and our reactions or overreactions to behaviors, though it is not always easy. Still, the right medication seems to be the missing key ingredient in helping Michael achieve a balance for his unique brain and for all of us to help him be at his best.

There are the challenging moments when peer pressure, puberty and any silliness is taken to the next step. I see my smart child make inappropriate choices in words and actions when I know he knows better. This is based on some misguided notion that friends expect him to do it, so he does it whether it is acceptable or not. Fortunately we are not talking about super socially deviant behavior, but it is still something that must be curbed so he could learn from it. I don’t want peer pressure taken further when alcohol, sex and drugs will come into the picture, and trust me, with my child in full fledged puberty all of the above are not that far away.

Then there are the moments when he is not only reachable, but wants to relate to me. Those are the precious moments where I want to cry as I think, “I have not lost him. I have not lost the connection. I must honor it and know that my little boy is still there, just maturing as I wanted him to.”  Today, I noticed that Michael asked me to put down my phone and talk to him. I was finishing typing up a text quickly and did not know he was ready to interact.

“Mommy, I want to talk to you. Please put your phone down and  listen to me.”

I did. Another time he shocked me when he asked me to stay and watch him play at an extracurricular activity.

“No, Mommy. Stay and watch me play tennis. Don’t come back when I am done.”
I had assumed he would have wanted me to leave, as all the older kids in the lessons are dropped off by their parents for an hour and then picked up when it is finished.  But he asked if I could stay and said he liked that I was there.

The last medication we tried for attention made it harder for him to control aggression, so we are back to trying another medication. He is hardly having any aggressive outbursts, but I have to say since he came off of the last med, I am noticing more silly things and so-called verbal diarrhea. He also is admitting that he needs help to focus in class as he is having a harder time there again. On a positive note, he is starting to keep better track of things, listening and following his routine. This was even better when on his ADHD meds though.

He also asked me if I was proud of him. I told him that when he listens, focuses and does a great job or tries his best,  I am extremely proud of him. When he is silly, deliberately copying negative behavior from friends, I am disappointed as I know he can do better as he is a smart kid.  I hope I am not stifling his self-confidence, but want him to know that appropriate behavior is expected of him, and that I know he can deliver it even with challenges.

Dad and I bring up medication as another tool that he can use to help him make the most of his amazing brain and focusing so he can learn and do his best, both academically and socially. We want him healthy and happy most important of all, and the way to be balanced for anyone, is to have a quality of life where we are in control of our thoughts and actions. Then we can give the world our best. Hopefully, this new medication can help him do that.

Exceptional Parents, how has medication helped or hindered your Exceptional Child? It has to be a fine balance with finding the right medication and therapy to help your Exceptional Child. As a parent, you need to keep advocating, working with your child, and believing their team will only want what’s best for them-personal and academic success that will help them achieve what they are meant to achieve. Keep an open mind and keep encouraging your Exceptional Child’s gifts. That will help them in the final stretch. Until next time.

Exceptional Tween Mood Swings-5 Tools To Survive Them And Thrive As An Exceptional Family

So it’s another late afternoon at my home and Michael is angry about something small that I said that sounds like it is a criticism of him, his way of doing things, or simply a “less try things differently” approach. I am getting better at going with the flow with Michael’s mood swings. There is the I like you Mom, I don’t mind being in the same room as you Mom. This lasts about ten minutes a day, to you’re ok, but don’t try and hug or touch me, give me a high five if you’re proud of me, to get away from me and trying to control my life as you want me to stop watching my videos now! Yep. And because he’s exceptional, the rebellion is quite over the top.  A book gets tossed across the room, a swear word (or words) are uttered, and repeatedly Michael will say things like I want to be with  my friends, stop being critical or the eye rolling. I almost laugh at that one. Yep. It’s all normal, relatively speaking.

So, back to the tween mood swings and how I survive them? They are quite similar to what my mother and father used back in the day, only tweaked for exceptional kids.  Here they are:

1) Make sure to keep your sense of humor: I know. Your exceptional tween is having the meltdown of a century, how  do you laugh or even begin to? Well, you may not laugh during or right after it, but later on you remember the tumultuous hormones that is puberty. You remember how confused you were as a neuro typical youngster, imagine your child. You also say that this is just a phase. Sooner or later they will outgrow it like they did toddler and preschool behavior. And then you pour yourself a cup of coffee or wine (depending on the time of day), and say to yourself, “this too shall pass.”

2) Put yourself in their shoes: This is similar to number 1, but also a little different. Remember not feeling like you knew who you were? Remember, feeling so alone and frustrated and hormonal? Well, your exceptional child has this and their different brain affecting their outlook on the world. In Michael’s case, ASD, ADHD, and Type 1 Diabetes. In your child’s case, whatever challenges they face. Be patient. Give them opportunities to try again. Don’t enable them or have them use their neuro diversity and challenges as an excuse, but make sure they know they can learn and grow from their behavioral mistakes.

3) Give them space to physically and mentally vent: This is a work in progress as their interests change, but it is important for all kids to have a space in the house to let loose. Physically vent means they can have places to scream, punch a pillow, jump on a trampoline, cry, or do whatever they need to do to release pent up emotions. Mentally vent, make sure they have a journal or place to draw or sketch how they feel. Make sure when they and you are calm, the two of you can sit down and talk together about what happened. It’s important you both learn from your mistakes.

4) They are communicating! Yes!: Again, a day ago when my tween was angry and yelling at me I would not have been enthusiastically preaching this, but afterwards when he calmed down and regrouped, I realized that a meltdown, an outburst, or any display of emotion means that they are authentically communicating their needs to you and you know what they need to work on (and you too). Celebrate this and move forward with your team. Your child is telling you how they feel!

5) Self-Care: I’ve said this time and time again and will continue to do so, but only when parents are taking care of their needs (physical, mental, spiritual), can they parent from their soul and see the child as a whole. If you are tired, frustrated, depleted, you will not be strong enough to help your child through any crises. Self-care does not have to be fancy. Taking time to curl up and watch a favorite tv show, read a good book, spend time with your partner and friends, take a bath or a walk and exercise, are all important to overall mental well-being. I can’t emphasize enough how much guided meditations help too. For me, they saved my life and showed me how to remain in the moment with Michael. When I have forgotten, I would immediately think about breathing and refocusing my energy. I also would ask myself, when was the last time I had “me” time?

Exceptional Parents, how do you survive the tough times? We all have tricks of the trade, as they say. As long as they speak to what works for you as a parent and individual, you are on the right track. Until next time.

 

When Your Exceptional Child Changes How They Relate To You

So tween-hood is officially upon us with Michael, and has been for quite a while. I am both excited and sad. My little boy is growing up. Joy! But the downside of this is, he is growing away from me. He is growing away from the “Mommy and Daddy knows best,” and growing towards, “my friends know best and are way cooler,”. Ok, the way cooler may be true. Hey, I remember those days when I was twelve, and my parents were not the coolest people to me too, but I still remember giving them hugs and kisses all the time like when I was little. The pushing away came later, at thirteen or fourteen years old. Not eleven and twelve. But, like with many areas in his life, Michael has taken me by surprise and become a little teenager in training overnight. I think the fact he has some older kids in his adapted class also plays a role, but I digress.

It has been wonderful to see him forming his own identity. He will not like a song because I do. We often enjoy the same music, (see I am cool and hip with the youth today LOL), but sometimes he will say the song is not “funky” enough. He will also not want to read or watch certain books or tv shows I recommend. Why? Because his friends are not into that or it is not interesting. I both celebrate and am frustrated by this “man child” who needs me one minute (when in crisis to control anxiety and anger he will look to me to stop the explosion which I cannot do), and then pushes me away when he seems stressed or is celebrating a victory and I offer a hug or kiss (“I am too old for hugs Mommy. No.”) Where do I fit into my son’s world? Other friends and family have commented about his growth spurt, his voice that is WAY deeper, his talking about body parts, sex and crushes, and wow, they are right! So now, we are both trying to navigate terrain where he likes me for the most part, but friends rule for talking on the phone, playing video games and going out places. I am both proud and struggling to meet the demands of my tween as friends and peers cannot be around 24/7, and when they are not, he is struggling with his identity as well as his special needs issues. What’s an Exceptional Mom to do?

First of all, I have found venting to my friends has been extremely helpful. We have compared notes on puberty and where our kids are. Secondly, we have asked Michael’s team both in and outside of school for assistance in the form of strategies and articles about Exceptional Adolescence to help us navigate this new path. And third, I have relied on something I have been relying on since the beginning of our journey with Michael-my faith and trusting in God and my mother’s instincts that will lead me to the right people to help me continue to trust myself on my journey of learning to become Michael’s mother through all his developmental phases. I truly think all parents are in a learning curve when it comes to their children, no matter what age or sex they are. As long as we go by our instincts, trust in our love for our children, we cannot go wrong.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle sudden changes in your Exceptional Child’s behavior? Sometimes there is a logical explanation-developmental milestone reached, puberty beginning, or life stressor, that is obvious such as parents separating or upheaval at school. But what if none of these things fit? Then you need to investigate further to see why your child’s relationship to you has changed. Remember, trust your gut. If it tells you something others are denying, you are probably right. As the parent, you know them best. Also, however, remember that developmental milestones will shift how your child sees you. Don’t despair this. Celebrate their development and show them that no matter what, you are there for them. They will need you on the rocky road ahead, and you will have the front row seat to viewing their growing success. 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! 

Food Dilemmnas and Rebellion- Navigating Type 1 Diabetes And ASD Rigidities and Surviving It

Ah rebellion. It is just grand, said not ONE Mom, never mind a Mom of an Exceptional Child that already has enough stuff to deal with. Still, it makes me feel good in one way. As Dad commented earlier this evening when Michael was talking pretty much twenty minutes straight without coming up for air and making intense eye contact with us, “remember when we worried he wouldn’t talk?” I almost laughed. Indeed I do. If you told me when he was a toddler and had been diagnosed with autism that  I’d have to deal with regular puberty things like pushing limits, refusing to go to bed early, swearing, and even being silly with friends, I’d have laughed and said, go ahead, PLEASE give me those normal neuro-typical problems. And yet, here we are. My Exceptional Son is not so exceptional when it comes to puberty. In fact, he is so neuro typical here it is DRIVING ME CRAZY. And just to make things interesting and keep Dad and I on our toes, he has particular food restrictions due to his diabetes (hard for him and us and yet MORE more for teenage rebellion) and with his ASD and ADHD those quirks come out in puberty while he is trying to be a grownup. Oh boy. What can I say? Running for the hills is usually a race for Michael and I lately. Which of us will get there first running from the other, he or I? Yet, somehow with all the craziness, we always do run back to each other. I love him too much to not do that, and I think he loves me or tolerates me, pretty much what any tween/teen boy would feel towards his mother at this age of 12, not a baby and not a teen, a tween. It’s not easy, but whenever I catch myself feeling pity for either of us I remind myself it’s all relative. I also remind myself to learn from the challenging times, mine and Michael’s, as I tell Michael to do.

Sometimes when I want to indulge in a pity party I do that too. I allow Michael that luxury as well. I tell him, it’s ok to be angry or sad. Feel it. Own it. Use strategies to move away from it. Then move on. I follow the same theory myself, and do my best to hold myself to this promise. It’s not always easy. That’s when I call in the Mommy brigade, my friends in the same circumstances who share  in my stress over theirs and their children’s challenges, yet also remind me to celebrate the victories. And there are many victories of exceptional families that help us survive.

Today Michael was supposed to have a tennis lesson. It got postponed due to unforseen circumstances. He still remembered to bring home his shoes from school WITHOUT reminders. The other day going to a new place at school he navigated there on Google Maps to know where he was going, a pastime that is pleasurable for him and reduces his anxiety. This again was all on his part, no reminders. And countless times lately I have been witnessing him using strategies instead of giving into his anger,- deep breathing, using fidget toys.  Finally, he has openly talked about his struggles in puberty with me, still shares his day with me, and likes getting the occasional hug or kiss, or tolerates it. For this for now, I am grateful. 🙂 These are things I hold on to when the day or night is tough. These are things I remember when he is asleep at night, however good or bad the day has gone. These are things I see will help him navigate the world and survive and thrive when I am no longer here to advocate for him. Finally, these are things that tell me I need to fine tune my own coping mechanisms and let go over what I cannot control and control what I can. I can show my son I believe in him and want him to learn and do better. I can show my son I will hold him to a great future. And I can show my son that faults and all, I love him as much as I do me, and everyone else in the family. After all, we are have our issues to work on. What’s important is to learn and grow from the tough times so we can get ready for a brighter future all around.

Exceptional Parents, how do you survive your Exceptional Child’s quirks? How do they survive yours? Yes, you have quirks too and sometimes unintentionally make things more stressful for you and them by over reacting or under reacting. You are a human being and you will mess up just like them. Where’s the lesson? It is in learning from your mistakes, showing up the next time to do better as an individual and parent, and making sure you set a positive example for your child to follow at the same time. 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! 

 

Exceptional Tween Frienships-What I Thought I’d Never Have To Face

When I found out Michael had autism everything I had thought his life would be became one big question mark. Many other parents have shared this same insight on finding out that their child is different. They mourn the child that he/she will never be, what they will (or may) never do, and they worry about the missed milestones. You know what though? This isn’t always the case. Sometimes your Exceptional Child will surprise you and actually do the milestones then surpass them. Yes, you heard me correctly! Let’s take peer groups. Just like most special needs kids are not supposed to be interested in socializing (Michael SO is), many also do not care about peer groups. Michael SO cares. He is like a neuro typical peer copying for better or worse what his friends do. I feel both blessed by his need to fit in and worried about it, as any parent would be. Though it is great he wants to be accepted by his friends we also want him to learn to think for himself. This is easier said than done for a child who has a limited grasp of social skills and norms of society through his neurologically different way of seeing the world. It also means he will be slower to learn to think for himself, but then I am celebrating the fact that he is able to argue with us about thinking for himself. And argue he does these days. 😉

For sure these are all victories and milestones I was not sure we would be facing with a son who has autism. Now as he is moving into puberty, all the sexual and romantic feelings towards women have started emerging. Again, it is in his way, as only it would be, but these were things I was not sure Michael would ever experience. Sometimes kids on the spectrum have no interest in these things. It has provided us with additional challenges on how to parent Michael, but Dad and I are up for that challenge and know that with the great tools we have found, we will be in a position to help Michael through it.

The thing is, that sometimes it so hard navigating this seesaw of exceptional brains and neuro typical brain thinking that Michael is capable of. It certainly keeps me and Dad on our toes, but can be stressful too. Thank goodness we have a community to share this with, and of course a great kid who, in the end, is just himself and does not fit into any category, nor should he. This goes for any other child really.

Exceptional Parents, how often have your Exceptional Children surprised you by what they have shown you they can do or are capable of? Remember, a textbook definition of autism is just that, a generalization. Always expect the unexpected from your child. It will happen in good and bad ways. Don’t worry about the bad. There you will find the strategies to help them. As far as the good, enjoy it. This will help them grow confidently into who you know they can become. Until next time.

Feeling overwhelmed as an Exceptional Parent? Don’t know where to turn for tips, and ways to survive and thrive during the whole journey? You are not alone. I have walked and continue to walk this path myself. As a writer, speaker, parent coach and Mom to a son with Autism, ADHD, and Type 1 Diabetes,  I can help you through all the twists and turns that parenting an exceptional child require, while keeping your sense of humor intact, your sense of self and relationships intact, and helping you see that not only are you raising your exceptional child, but they are raising you to be the best human being you can be. You are each other’s advocates for a better world. For more information on my coaching packages, contact me at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

Backtalk from Your Exceptional Child- The Pros and Cons

There have been many things that have been exciting to see so far with Michael experiencing puberty-independence in how he organizes himself, his own opinion about things to an even greater degree than before, and his love of being around peers and sharing ups and downs with them. These are the good things. Then, sigh, there have been the cons of your exceptional child experiencing puberty. The main con I could attest to, has been the back tack. The back talk has been everything from swearing, closing doors when talking to his friends, and saying rude things to him amidst eye rolling for effect, just because he is asserting himself. What have been my feeling about this? I can say that it has been both exhilarating and frustrating. I am so glad to see Michael asserting himself, yet so annoyed that I am in enemy territory on some occasions. Still, there is hope. My son wants to spend time with me, and not only because of what I could give him (toys, rides, food). He genuinely wants a relationship with me. Tonight, he was upset that I was a little bit distracted  when he was telling me about his day and kept saying “look at me Mommy.” He also postpones talking to his friends on the phone most nights, so he can share his day with me. Ahh is all I can say. This feels good.

So what do I think make up the pros and cons of puberty in an exceptional family? Here are some of them:

PROS:

  1. Your child  is asserting themselves: Of course you want to make sure it is positive, but a child asserting what they believe is really good and something to aim for long term.
  2. They are developing as they should: Whether a child has special needs or not, puberty happens. If it is in full bloom, at least we know they are developing on track and can guide them according to their own abilities to handle life’s ups and downs.

CONS:

  1. You have to tolerate a whole new backlash of behavior: Sometimes when your child is struggling to find themselves they are harder on you. This means tolerating some testing behavior, being firm in when they have to apologize, and moving forward.
  2. You mourn the loss of your little boy/girl: You also have to acknowledge that your child is growing up and not a little boy/girl anymore. This is hard because they are in that in-between stage where they and you are still learning together. Be patient and forgiving. you will both get to the finish line eventually.

Exceptional Parents, if your Exceptional Child is in puberty has it been easy or difficult for you and them? Remember, it is a learning process for both of you, and when you are ready to meet them halfway, that is when things will flow a lot more smoothly. 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 “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

Exceptional Tug of War-How To Love Your Exceptional Child Through Puberty

“Mommy, next time we go sledding I want to go with friends. I’ll have more fun then.”

For some reason these words hurt me deeply. I have always taken Michael on sledding play dates with close friends, but he and I have also had lots of fun sledding together. I am a parent that has always done a lot of sports and physical activities with Michael, like walking to parks and bike riding. So why now that he is growing up and wants to do more away from me (something I hoped and prayed for years ago when I was feeling stifled as an Exceptional Mom), am I now sad? Then as I thought about it, I had my answer. It seemed to happen overnight. I know. Puberty has been occurring over the course of a year. I saw the signs, and the first thing I thought was, thank goodness I spent time with Michael when I did. Soon, I will just be useful to him for drives or to give or pay him money for chores. But I digress. It still made me sad, as I realized, I did not know how to relate to my tween son in full blown puberty.

Don’t get me wrong. He still wants to share his day with me. He still wants to spend time talking to me about his classes, his friends, his big crush. But the little boy that loved to curl up in my lap with a book, now likes to talk to his friends on the phone and listen to music videos. He also likes to watch tv and play video games. Yes, I know. He is a teenager. What teenager likes to hang out with their Mom? Still, I want to find a way to still connect with him on subjects we could have in common. That is why when he announced his desire to only go sledding with friends, that I was hurt. We have ALWAYS connected on physical activity, and my big worry is that I will lose him opening up to me about his life if I lose doing activities with him. It’s already happened with going to church with me and reading. Now, if we can’t do sports together, will he still know I am there to turn to when times get rough?

Hopefully yes. So far he seems to  still hold me in high regard. We have had countless puberty talks where no subject has been too sensitive for me. I have purposely told Michael he can tell me ANYTHING and I mean it. I want him to know I am there for him through it all. I guess I worry about him losing who he is. He is so preoccupied right now with being like his friends, doing what they do, watching what they watch that I worry, will he have his own mind like he did when he was little? I have told him the story about “if a friend does something dangerous would you copy him because he is a friend, or would you try and stop him?” He only laughs as I used the “friend jumps off a bridge” analogy that my own mother used. I know he has autism and takes things literally, but in this case, he got the significance of it. He is very neuro typical in some ways, and I don’t want to underestimate his ability to understand things. So now I have to remind myself that he and I will always be close, even when another woman, one closer to his own age, has his heart one day. He may not go to church with me, but every night we pray together at bedtime. He may not read books with me, but he sees me reading and asks me questions about stories. He may not want to go sledding with me, but the other day asked if we could go for a walk together. My little boy still wants a relationship with his mother,  but understandably it is maturing as he is maturing. So I have determined that I will not panic, but trust that in his struggles and triumphs, he knows Mom has his back.

Exceptional Parents, are you struggling with your child pushing you away and then pulling you close? If so, it’s all normal. Remember, give them their space. Special needs or not, they are separate from you, and deserve their independence. Just make sure you show them every day how much you love them, and that you are always there for them no matter what. If they feel your love, they will always have a healthy relationship with you and themselves. 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 “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.