Category: sports

Planning Playdates without Mom Exceptional Style

Michael has been doing something for awhile that is really cute and can cause both of us some stress too. He makes “play dates” with friends at school in his class and those outside of his class. For all his comprehension, he still will shake his head when I remind him that 1) I need to know how to contact the parents of this child if we are to schedule a play date and 2) Even if I have their info and they mine, they have to be free on the day and time that Michael and said buddy are arranging this “play date.” I have a joke with one of the Moms who Michael likes a lot. I will call her and tell her “our boys made plans again for this Saturday at 1:00 pm,” for example. We laugh about it, and try our best to see if we can arrange something. If not, both Michael and the other boy handle it, but with other kids I don’t have the option of knowing how to contact their parents. Sometimes I’ve had to break the news to Michael about not having all the information. What I did for another friend in the class was ask the teacher if she could relay our home phone and telephone number to this particular boy, his classroom BFF this year. He has two other BFF’s in other classes that he gets together with as well. Now we will be planning something with them for a future PED DAY.

It has struck me how Michael’s brain processes things differently, including comprehending something like a play date. He is learning more and more to go with the flow, but sometimes will still get caught up in details. Pre- planning his free time to avoid anxiety is something that has helped enormously, but sometimes he will still worry. We are both learning ways to navigate around this. I am so happy that he wants to interact with friends and chooses things like sledding, swimming or a movie, typical pre teen boy things. No more play dates with toys. My little guy is growing up.

Exceptional Parents, how do your Exceptional Children do on play dates with friends? Do they prefer their own company instead? Don’t forget, not all kids on the autism fit the “loner label,” though it is hard for them to relate to others socially. The important thing if for parents not to push either way. Let your child decide what friends they want to see, and do not want to see. Let them set the pace of social encounters. You will not be disappointed when you give them free reign. They will find what works for them. Your job at that point is simply to guide and support them. Until next time.

Are you looking to make changes in your special needs parenting life? Do you need support on your journey?  I am a writer and parent coach who is passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparentnet.wordpress.com

 Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety this year? Contact me at  joanne.giacomini@gmail.com for a FREE COPY of my EBOOK  “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY”

Soccer Connections And Friendships Formed

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Michael’s Dad and I are very excited that he is back to playing soccer again this summer. There is something about the game of playing soccer that is fun and simple. I’ve always loved the idea of parents sitting on the sidelines watching their kids play a simple game with a ball, getting fresh, and learning about team spirit, and really what it takes to make it in the world with a healthy dose of cooperation. What I especially enjoy is that Michael has found a soccer team that for him is a good fit. It is smaller than a team he was playing on previously, and for him that’s important. He tends to get swallowed up in big groups, lots of coaches and lots of kids. As he grows, he may be ready for more competitive teams, but for right now, he is right where he is supposed to be. He also has a crush on his head coach, who also babysat for us once. He has “married her,” and looks forward to seeing and sharing things with her at every practice. We have to remind him she is there to coach all the kids, but of course she and the other coaches understand. It is an adapted team which really helps as all the kids are exceptional, and the coaches know how to handle them.

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Michael’s Dad and I enjoy talking to the other parents as we do at his other activities which are also adapted. They get it and they get how our kids do things a little differently, and are smart in their own right. They get how hard it is for our kids who want to be active, but do not always have the options on non adapted teams or cannot keep up with the pace on these teams. Most importantly, as our exceptional kids realize they are not alone in the way they are, their exceptional parents realize it too, talking to other parents facing the same challenges of raising an amazing child or children who are not textbook.

Exceptional Parents, do your Exceptional Children do extracurricular activities? Do you go the adapted or non-adapted way and how do you and your child find them? The important thing to remember is to follow your child’s interest in pursuing activities along with their capabilities. Don’t ever push them too far beyond their comfort zone, but be there to give them a little nudge to get out there and meet other children, learn about playing, and allow yourself the opportunity of meeting parents who are facing the same journey as you. Until next time.

 

 

4 Ways My Exceptional Son Showed Me What I Needed This Weekend

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So it was a crazier than ever weekend. I know, I say this EVERY weekend. But this weekend, in addition to the usual housework and writing work for me, I also scheduled in some Mommy time with  friends for a Hamamm experience on Friday night at a local spa in my area, and finally secured a sitter so Dad and I could celebrate our wedding anniversary together on Saturday afternoon. We were also trying out a new sitter for Michael, and I went to speak at a parents support group Sunday morning. All of these things worked out beautifully, and by Sunday afternoon as I sat down to do my writing work, I was feeling happy and balanced. I realized why. It was due to Michael reminding me what is really important, and for me it was the following: Exercise and time to be just be in the moment.

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In our case it was done through playing tennis in the park on Saturday morning before a torrential rain storm, and two beautiful walks we took this weekend. For you and your child, it may look different. How do you know what you need, and how do you know when your child is telling you to do what you have not recognized is important for you? Here are 4 questions to ask yourself to determine what your body needs:

  1. What do you or what does your body miss? Simple, eh? Do you miss exercise, movement, peace, nature? Chances are your child is on your wavelength, and will pick up and suggest this. I was so tired this weekend, but what’s the solution to pick up energy? Exercise right! Playing tennis in the park and doing a nature walk with Michael was just the remedy I needed to keep myself energized.
  2. Alone time in nature: Seeing Michael go off to stim a little more than normal, (his alone time),  reminded me that I needed some alone time too to re-energize. The other night a good friend reminded me how she loves to sit and watch rain. Early Saturday afternoon with the rain pouring down, I had a drink in my solarium looking out onto the beautiful garden outside. I listened to the rain hitting the windows and ground.It soothed me like nothing else and I relaxed thoroughly.
  3. Reading or TV: Yes, watching a favorite movie or finishing that novel is just what we need sometimes to unwind. Seeing Michael reading his books and watching his favorite music videos, reminded me what I needed to get back  some evenings-down time for me.
  4. Time with my partner: Michael asked both his Dad and I about our upcoming family vacation in August, and what we will be doing. We took advantage of our alone time to discuss it, among just being alone as well to catch up as a couple.

Exceptional Parents, how does your Exceptional Child remind you of what you need to do and avoid doing? What about when they seem to know that the outing you are taking them on is just as good for you as for them? My son has a hard time slowing down, and his Dad and I are starting to show him how to do fun things at home. We are able to convince him to stay home with us and do things inside too. Likewise, he has gotten both of us out of our shells socially, and now we explore more places, go on more adventures, and meet all kinds of different people due to him. I believe that children teach us as much as we teach them about how to have a happier life. Good luck in leading each other. Until next time.

Keeping Busy and Learning To Be Calm The Exceptional Way

 

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What is busy? For every Mom of every child with special needs it means a different thing. Every kid with autism is different and has various interests. For Michael, keeping busy means constant motion pretty much all day. It means going places, to parks, pools, friend’s houses, and stores. This is AFTER a full day of camp. This is a challenge for his Dad and I, especially as we get older, but we are learning to structure his activity with time when he is home, and has to keep himself occupied. This is tough for him to do, but he is learning. We also have to find the fine balance between busy and overstimulated. The last two days I crossed the line with Michael, and we had two bad meltdowns and some aggression. The heat doesn’t help, and the fact that Michael is learning that he can’t control everything and everyone around him. It is exhausting and frustrating for all of us.

Still, as with all moments with Michael, there are funny and wonderful moments too. One of these was playing games with Michael in our local pool yesterday afternoon. We were sitting side by side with him in a lawn chair drying off in the sun. Michael said;

“This is nice and relaxing Mommy. I like sitting in the sun. As long as I have sunscreen on it is ok, right?”

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He made me smile. I also thought good, he is learning to relax sometimes. He was finally tired after his busy day of camp, playing in the park, then the pool. He watched some videos after he came home and chilled out. That was nice too. I find that as an Exceptional Parent, each summer, each day really, I am going back to the drawing boardhaving to readjust things so that he is in balance. I find new strategies to help him remain calm, remind him of  his old strategies, and  teach him that it is ok to not always be in control. That is a hard one. I have only recently learned that, and at times, like most adults, still have issues with that one. What I do now, is make sure I am surrounded by family and friends who can understand me and Michael and what we live on a daily basis. I make sure Michael and I have respite from each other on occasion, and that we never go to bed angry with one another. I tell Michael that we all learn from our mistakes, me included. Michael and I both talk about how we need to use strategies to stay calm, and if we don’t, we need to remember to use them the next time we get upset.

Exceptional Parents, how do you juggle the busy and quiet side of your Exceptional child? How do you handle the rough moments during and after they occur? Do you remember to cut yourself some slack and learn from them? Retrace your steps, see what you could do differently next time, and teach your child to do the same. Yes, there will be new battles to face, but you and your child will be able to handle it together as long as you show your child you will never give up on him/her. Until next time.

 

 

Celebrating Michael’s Exceptional Father

 

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So this weekend is Father’s Day, and our family is blessed to have four wonderful fathers to celebrate with, Michael’s Dad, my Dad, my brother and my Father-In-Law. Although we mark the celebrations for all four on different days as it is easier logistically speaking,  it does not make that day any less special as we always call our fathers and my brother on that day to wish them. And each year I have the same thought: we are a lucky family to have such good nurturing men among us. I particularly see the strong bond that continues to grow between Michael and his Dad. It warms my heart the way Michael greets his Dad when he comes home, is eager to talk and share parts of his day with him, and will be heard saying often;

“I want Daddy to take me to the park. I want to go alone with Daddy.”

He even told me several days in advance about his craft for Daddy for Father’s Day and the card. He proudly told his father what he made him and how he can’t wait to give it to him on Sunday. It’s great that he is attaching more and more to Dad as time goes on. Little boys need a good strong male role model as they grow up. I am particularly happy as Dad and Michael seem to be developing their own language and ways of playing and interacting. It is separate from me, yet it is not as if I am excluded. It is just “boys stuff” and I love how this is bringing them closer. Michael and I have our Mommy and son time which is special too, and then we have our family time when it is special for all of us.

 

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What I find particularly beautiful is how Dad is learning to relate more and more to Michael’s autism, and help him find ways to navigate the rough patches as well as celebrate the victories. I will hear Dad reminding Michael to use his strategies, he remains calmer than me when Michael tests and shows Michael the port in the storm. He also makes that extra effort when he is tired to play with Michael, to be there for him, to show him love. And he encourages him with reading, writing and sports. He is proud of Michael and sees more and more Michael’s potential. It has been a long road for these two as accepting Michael’s diagnosis was not easy for Dad. He was not the one home to see all that I saw, so it was normal that he doubted things at first. Like many Dads, he needed his own time to reflect and come to terms. When he did, the bond between the two began to grow. Now, he is not only Michael’s Exceptional Father but my Exceptional Husband, a true partner in advocating for our Exceptional Little boy, and helping him grow into the wonderful little person he is.

Exceptional Parents, how are you celebrating Father’s Day this weekend? Will you be marking it with a big lunch or dinner or something simple? Will you do separate celebrations with the other Dads in the family? No matter what you choose, just remember how important a Dad’s duty is. Dads do a lot for their families in so many ways, and today’s Dads are amazing in how they support their partners, particularly Exceptional Dads, who need to be that much stronger for their Exceptional Families. So here’s a shout out and wishing all of you out there a Happy Father’s Day! Until next time.

Rockin’ Tennis And Being A Positive Mirror

 

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I love being proven wrong and I never get tired being amazed by my little guy. I didn’t name the blog “Exceptional Mom/Exceptional Child” for nothing people. 🙂 All the worry I had over Tuesday afternoon’s tennis difficulties were blown away yesterday when Michael did amazing at tennis in another park outside. Next time Mom will bring her racket and we’ll have a game! It was one of those gifts and perfect afternoons when a Mom sees the pride in her child’s eyes at succeeding and doing something he loves. His teacher and Dad, as I previously mentioned, were blown away by his performance at this indoor tennis class.

I know I have talked about this program before (and this is not a sponsored post, just this Mom’s opinion), but I will say it again. The program is out of this world, and I have seen Michael’s confidence and coordination improve so much since starting adapted tennis. You can check it out at  www.prosetautism.ca. Hearing him tell me “I’m proud Mommy,” and seeing his shy little grin, made my whole evening yesterday. There is nothing quite like seeing your child light up with pride in a big accomplishment. Nothing is greater to a parent.

This was also a good lesson to me, as I always say that Michael teaches me, to remember that tomorrow is another day, and our kids will always surprise us if we give them a chance to try new things, do their best, and show up for life. This has been an amazing week. My little guy is growing up. He is helping at home, he is getting used to sleeping alone again after a challenging two years of nighttime fears, and he is becoming interested in sports as well as trying new things. I am beyond proud of his spirit of adventure. He is making me more adventurous, and whenever I think of turning something down now as not being “Me”, I am learning to try it anyway. Life is an adventure, and only by embracing it, will  we be free and grow.

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Exceptional Parents, how do your Exceptional Children blow you away? Do you give them opportunities to try new things, and do you make a habit of trying new things yourself, food, sports, places to go? As I’ve said before you are your child’s mirror. Reflect back to them that life is full of wonder and beauty and that is what they will become and manifest in their life. You’ll also have the bonus of seeing it manifest in your life. Until next time.