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How Our Children Strengthen Us And What We Need To Remember On Our Parenting Journeys

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“You are amazing with him. You are redirecting him when he is inappropriate. I work with special needs kids.  I completely understand.”

This was the opening line of a Mom sitting near Michael and I in the waiting room to see his pediatrician for a follow up visit on our tumultuous year handling aggression and hyperactivity as well as his diabetes. Michael had been commenting on how much he likes her legs, as he is fascinated by women’s legs and will say this now in puberty without worry about consequences, along with other hyperactive behavior. I understand this, but have been trying to redirect him to more appropriate ways to handle his feelings.There have been many ups and downs since last summer, but this week, there have been many more ups. Still, as I have been blogging this week,  Michael’s hyperactivity and lack of impulse control has been VERY high.

He always had a hard time waiting in lines, doctors appointments and at amusement parks. Now that he is off medication for aggression that was not working, his impulsivity had no medical help, so to speak. He was happy, silly and as he has entered puberty, checking out women’s legs. He has always had a fascination with legs, and now will openly stare at women in capri pants and comment on their legs out loud. He will smile and try and talk to them too. It is cute in a way, but also highly embarrassing and inappropriate. I have been handling it by both trying to calmly discourage it by asking him to keep up with me and not stop, as well as try and ignore the staring. But this in the office could not be ignored. Not knowing this woman’s background, I was worried, so out loud in a calm voice I told Michael that I knew it was hard for him to wait and that he was off his old medication, (signs to the person that my child is not trying to be rude), but that he must stop trying to get her attention, talk so loudly, and try and be silly with standing up. He also had a little video game with him and I repeatedly directed him to watch it. To no avail. Dad was waiting near the intercom on the other side of the room, to hear when we would be called to see the doctor. When this woman identified herself and told me that she was impressed how calm I was, I thanked her for her kind words and patience, and in that moment realized I’d come a long way in the last little while, including the last year. I was patient. I was understanding of my child. I was trying to show him compassion while also teaching him how to be appropriate in the world.

 

Then, entering the doctor’s office, Dad and I had our questions for the pediatrician as well as our update since the last visit six months ago.  Dad mentioned our difficulties as did I, as well as the good moments. When he talked about the difficulties, he mentioned how I handled most of them, being the parent who is with Michael the most. I got my second surprise of the way as the doctor commended me for my calm demeanor and the “I don’t know how you do it, you are amazing” comment. I simply answered, Thank you, but I just do. He’s my son. All my Mom friends do the same for their kids.” Wow, I thought. The Universe sent me these two people today to remind me that I was reaching Michael in a positive way.  Although there were family dynamics that need improving, and trust me we are working on those, I was complimented today by these two women for a reason. God is speaking to me. I am doing something right and people see it. I need to see it and acknowledge it.

It’s not easy being an exceptional parent. You realize your child is exceptional and they are the ones struggling to fit in in a world that is foreign to them, yet until they can really advocate for themselves, you are the one who needs to do a lot of the heavy lifting for them. You need to be strong. You need to be positive. You need to show them hope, strength, resilience. Then, a surprising thing happens. You develop hope, strength and resilience just when you thought life could wipe the floor with you. You become your own advocate. You start to change the way you see your own life, even  separate from your child. Yes, it’s not always easy. There is stress, personal and maybe professional. You don’t have a lot of personal time or time for relationships. Maybe you have money issues. Maybe not. But, you start to see, if you have your health,  a passion for something you can call your own, family and friends around you that love and support you and make you laugh, you are blessed. Even through the hard days and nights, you can pass this on to your child, and show them that they are a gift to themselves, to you, and to the world. And it all starts with one or two people reminding you that you are amazing on a day when you are worried you are not getting what your child needs.

Exceptional Parents, what strength have you gained from your child? Yes, even when we make mistakes as parents or feel weak, we are our child’s strength as much as they are ours. Other people around us will see we are working hard to teach our child to be the best they can be, and we need to take that in and remind ourselves that as challenging as our children are for themselves and us, that challenge is preparing both of us for further growth. There is a purpose for them. There is a purpose for us. We need to keep growing together, and remember as hard as things get, we need to stay positive for our kids, for ourselves and for those around us. Reach out and connect with other parents if you feel yourself losing your hope and belief in you or your child. Your community will be there to remind you that you are doing work of the spirit that is necessary for everyone to grow stronger and better. 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.

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Working With Your Exceptional Child’s Strengths Instead Of Their Weaknesses

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So I think I’ve said before what a rough time it’s been for Michael and us since he has gotten off his medication prescribed for aggression. He has become less aggressive and happier than he was on the medication, a dream, but his hyper activity has gone through the roof. I did not know how much the medication was helping him self-regulate his impulses and some careless behaviors. Now we are all in the middle of dealing with a happy, but hyperactive and impulsive child who has a difficulty calming himself down on all fronts. That is the difficult part of the last two weeks. Now for the beautiful things.

As I’ve said before, Michael is laughing and affectionate again. Michael is singing, dancing and listening to music again,  though he will get carried away with the dancing getting silly and inappropriate. No matter, he is more like himself these days. He is also receptive to using the strategies he has learned to control aggression and impulsivity, as long as Dad and I are presenting things in a calm and happy or level manner. The second we lose it, he does too. I am choosing to see this as a strength though. This gives me hope that he will go back to the happy kid he was WITH strategies all the time, as long as we show him we believe in him. So what I am doing now is focusing on his strengths-the way he is handling his diabetes, his new interest in basketball and increased interest in sports in general in the last three months, his interest in reading, singing and his conscience. He always had it, but lately he is genuinely sad after he calms down when he behaves in a negative way and will apologize. This is huge improvement in his empathy. He is also sad about a severe phobia that has been paralyzing him all summer. He is anxious to fix it, and accepting help from our Educator as well as future possible medication from his psychiatrist. He really needs the medication/therapy combination, though as a parent I hope we find the best medication that does not have too many side effects. I don’t want my child disappearing in it.

I am proud of how far he has come, and even though Michael is still struggling at handling himself appropriately, he has changed a lot since the beginning of the summer. So have Dad and I as we parent him in a new way, and learn from our parenting mistakes  in how we view his challenges. I am learning to see his challenges as I see my own. They are opportunities to grow and become stronger. We do not let him ‘cop out’ on himself and use his different brain as a way to excuse his challenges in regulating. We tell him-you are smart, you can control this. We have help for you. We are there for you. You can do this, but you have to do the work. Believe in yourself and anything is possible.

Exceptional Parents, how do you work with your Exceptional Child’s strengths? It’s so much easier to look at what they are doing wrong or are weaker at. The system we live in tends to do that too, and of course, it’s the parents who cry that things are terrible that get the help. While it’s important to acknowledge when your child and your family is struggling and get that help, (I am a HUGE believer in doing that),  you must also learn to celebrate your child’s victories in the hard moments. Celebrate when they tackle a difficult area of their life, take on a new hobby, or ask you for help, or even show remorse for bad actions. This means your child is learning and will make the inroads to mental and physical health sooner than you think. Above all, tell your child every day that no matter what they do, you love them and know they can do anything they set their mind to. It will make all the difference to their progress and yours as their parent and advocate. 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.

 

The Art of Sleep And How It Can Fix Your Relationship With Your Exceptional Child

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So I hit rock bottom last Friday night as a Mom. Michael’s behavior had been progressively getting more impulsive and hyperactive now that he was off his medication for aggression that had dulled an important side of his personality. My son was not smiling, did not have a lot of energy and was putting on weight. However, I was not prepared for the pre medicated Michael to emerge that quickly and emerge he did. I’d been handling the stress by staying up late pretty much for a month to have “me time”, to write, and to have personal space. This was all wonderful, but it came at a big price-the price was my sleep.

Yes, sleep dear parents. We yearn for sleep when our little ones wake us up at night to eat and be changed. And then we yearn for sleeping in. And as they get older, it usually gets easier, but not always. When your child has additional anxiety and behavior challenges, it wears you out in ways you may not even realize until the end of the day when you say silently to yourself, “go to sleep so I can have some peace.” You know what I mean! You want to sleep at night, but you know you need your adult down time to be the best parent and human being you can. The thing is though, that when you sleep less, your patience runs out. I know this. I tell other parents this, but I fought it in myself this summer until, low and behold, my patience expired last Friday night. Everything became a battle with Michael from the time I picked him up at camp. He was not any worse or challenging than he has been this summer. It was just the adding up of his challenges with my frustration and sleep deprivation. When Dad came home and it all exploded in his face,  he took over and took Michael for his nightly park outing to burn off the excess energy and I went to lie down in the bedroom. I did not actually fall asleep till close to ten pm, my usual bedtime when I am not burning the midnight oil, but the rest, oh the rest was better than anything I’d had in awhile. That’s when I realized, I was physically and emotionally exhausted. Why didn’t I admit I needed sleep sooner?

As parents, especially Moms, we tend to put our own needs last, below everyone’s. Sleep is the first thing to go. Now, I’m not suggesting you don’t stay up late if it helps you. I am a self-confessed night owl, and though I tend to get up early to get a head start on my boys, (even though Michael now sleeps in, yeah!), I still find I do my best work and thinking at night. So it’s all good if I go to bed a little later most weeks. But I was reminded again at the end of last week, that when my thoughts start becoming more negative, I feel irritable and impatient, it is my body’s way of telling me to go to bed early for a few nights. And if I’ve been exercising and doing everything else I usually do to feel energized and don’t, sleep is what is lacking.

I used to find this unproductive to the rest of my life, but guess what? If you are yelling, have no energy, and are stressed to the max, you are no good to your child, yourself or anyone around you, right? The first thing I noticed when I got up Saturday morning, was that even when Michael had his challenging moments, Buddha Mom was back. That is, the Mom who didn’t react and make the problem worse. And why was she back? The body that housed her had rested. Interestingly, Saturday my body gave me a message to sleep early again. I had a massive allergy attack. And Sunday. Wow! Patience again. I truly was reminded how sleep can make a big difference.

So, how can you prioritize sleep in a busy life? Here are some tips:

  1. Go to bed an hour early for a few nights.
  2. Try grabbing an early afternoon cat nap.
  3. If your child is young and napping, try lying down when they nap. Even a rest is good if you don’t actually sleep.
  4. Having some “me time” set aside in the day. A ten or fifteen minute pause with your coffee or tea.
  5. Set the alarm early and then stay in bed for about fifteen minutes resting. Say a prayer or meditate. It is very refreshing and calming.

 

Exceptional Parents, where does sleep rate on your priority scale? Remember, in order to be at your best, you need to be balanced in all areas of your life-physical, mental and spiritual. Sleep will help with all of these and restore to you the greatest power of all, your serenity which you can then pass on to your child. This will help you both through the challenging moments of exceptional family life. 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 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.

 

 

Summer Balance for Exceptional Kids-Finding Your Way As A Parent

Summer is about half over. How are you faring with your Exceptional Child? I can tell you that even after structuring and planning out summers for 11 years and 8 years since I knew Michael was exceptional, I still learn new things about what he needs and I need every summer. I have the basics down pat. I have a child who needs A LOT of structure so either I am doing the Mom camp trekking from place to place or he goes to camp for a good chunk of the summer. This is costly in financial terms, but in emotional terms, his and mine, camp is a godsend. Of course he has to like it. What I learned is that he needs a camp where he moves a lot. So this summer, it is Sports Camp all around. I tried an arts camp as he loves painting and sculpture, but he got bored with the type of art offered and the limited physical activities were for a younger boy than him. If we structure 5 to 6 weeks with camp, the remaining 3 weeks at home with me is enjoyable. That’s because I am lucky to be home in the summer and do most of the big things around the house I need to do when he is at camp all day. In the last 3 weeks we do family vacation and another round of Mom camp for a week and usually we are all set to go back to school and work.

What will work for you and your child? I have some friends who go to country places. Some friends join a community pool. Some split up 2 weeks here and there with camp, then grandma and grandpa help. It really depends on your child and what they need. Some kids with exceptional brains need more structure than others. Some like to be home. Some like to be out. Every year may be a little different as you and your child are growing. They are growing up, and you are growing older so your energy may change. It’s important, whatever you do over the summer, that you plan out what you think would work best for your child and yourself and family. There’s nothing worse than having a stressful summer, and although kids with autism often have a more difficult time in the summer, there are lots of ways to try and plan out what you can to eliminate stress. Don’t forget as well, to allow for spontaneous times too. This is trickier with kids who often thrive with routine, but introducing a little bit of uncertainty here and there slowly into their lives will help them cope with uncertainty one day as an adult.

Exceptional Parents, how has your summer been so far? If it’s been a rough one due to medical conditions, different expectations or other reasons, don’t beat yourself. Learn what you can from the experience, and you’ll have that much more information to have an easier summer next year. Also, take it one day at a time. There’s still time to make some good memories with your child whatever you decide to do. 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.

When Your Exceptional Child’s Anger Triggers Your Own-Learning How To Heal From Your Own Anger Issues

It’s been hard watching Michael zigzag from anxiety to aggression lately. I know he is coming off of a medication that was helping control much of these emotions, even if it was making other things worse. But what has also been hard as well,  is having to face my own anger and stress in the face of his anger and stress. I have learned that when I am under stress I either cry and retreat or get angry if I am not making myself consciously aware of how I am feeling and handling it in a positive manner. And then comes the guilt that I was not as strong as I could have been for my son. But am I really not strong?

What I’ve started realizing in the past week, is that once again Michael has made me realize what I need to fine tune in my life to be gentler and more patient with myself and others around me. Yes, there are days I fail at this, but there are more days I succeed. I also own up to myself and my family on the days I give in to anger or anxiety. I learn from them and move forward. If I am still stuck, I pray for guidance and I practice gratitude. I count my blessings. I meditate. I remember that tomorrow is another day. I also remember to check in on myself as I would with Michael- are you eating enough? are you sleeping enough? when was the last time you laughed? when was the last time you went out with a friend? Staying grounded in reality is  very important, but finally, if you are someone that is losing your top too often with your child you need to ask yourself these questions and see what you could change to be in a more harmonious place:

  1. Did I count to 5 in my head before responding?
  2. Am I reliving some stress from my childhood experience that was traumatic or stressful?
  3. Am I sleeping enough?
  4. Am I exercising and meditating regularly?
  5. Am I alone for some time each day?

All of these questions help put perspective between us and our child, so that we can respond rationally and calmly. It’s important that we make sure that we take care of ourselves body, mind and soul as best as we can. it’s the only way we can be sure to be truly there for our child when they are in crisis. But don’t forget, if your child is going through a tough time, they will be unpredictable. This means that you as the parent will be facing unpredictable emotions. Be prepared for it. Pace yourself,  and in time, you will figure out what it is you need to do to heal yourself. Then you’ll be able to heal your child as well.

Exceptional Parents, do your Exceptional Children trigger your anger and anxiety? If so, look deep inside yourself for what you need to heal. Don’t feel shame or guilt. Be gentle with yourself, and admit to your child that you too make mistakes and will learn from them too. Healing is about taking things one day at a time until you figure out what you can change to make things flow better. Your child will learn a lot by your example. 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.

Intense Emotions- How To Navigate Both With Your Exceptional Child

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First of all, I have to say that I am so glad to have Michael back. Truly back .Though he was calmer initially when we introduced medication for intense aggression back in January, and it REALLY helped him settle and sit still for longer periods, it gradually started doing more damage to his nervous system and demeanor than good. The culmination was him getting increasingly aggressive to the point where he fought with us about anything. I also hardly saw him smiling or taking an interest in things with us except keeping busy. In the last four days, though I have seen a high rise in his anxiety with no more meds in his system to chill him out, he has been smiling more than I’ve seen since the fall, when he was not on medication. He started singing in the house, playing on his electric piano, and stimming more, which though is done when he is tense, also is done when he is excited. He is also more inquisitive and affectionate again. These are the positive things I have seen. Negatively, I have seen a HUGE rise in anxiety and stress. More phobias have been emerging, but they were there with the medication too. And due to the sedative effect of the medication being gone, he really cannot stay home and needs to be in constant movement all day and most of the evening till bedtime.

There has also been HUGE impulse control issues when he gets overexcited or frustrated. He will sometimes catch himself and do his deep breathing and counting to 5 before reacting, but more often he reacts first, then needs to be reminded how to calm down. The good thing is that the medication initially helped him be more receptive to the strategies that his Educator is giving him to learn to regulate, and he is more interested in learning to do the exercises and applying them to have a better outcome in his emotional life.

It is both with encouragement and frustration that I share this tonight, because I see his potential and how well he is with everyone most of the time. With me and Dad, he is not the same and will often lose patience, overreact, and say terrible things. He is instantly sorry and empathetic to us, but it is hard when you are in it all day and night as a parent. Moms, who mostly are the ones in the mix, know what I mean. Right ladies? Still, I will take these new problems over the ones we had previously. I see he just needs love and patience. Most days I am able to give it, pretty much till bedtime, but other days, I lose it. He will both get angry when I am strict or laugh at me. Neither reaction is good for him or me. I realize I have to pick my battles more than ever before, as he gets more comfortable opening up to us, his tween rudeness and pushing boundaries and drawing near us and then pushing us away is increasing. I am happy and frustrated, as I try and figure out where I parent a neuro typical child and where I parent one with challenges and a different brain. It is somewhere in the middle

So this is what I am learning this summer in parenting my tween off medication, in struggle to form boundaries and reassure himself he is loved by constantly questioning everything I say. These have become my strategies:

  1. Follow the same cool down strategies as your child: I also try and take a deep breath and count to 5 before I answer him.
  2. Don’t use sarcasm even when tempted: I have gotten really good at doing this, and when I slip it, it is usually 7 pm or so at night when I’ve been on the Mommy track ALL DAY. Still, it’s only happened once in twice, out loud anyway. 🙂 Sarcasm with your child gets both of you nowhere.
  3. Don’t take positive or negative emotions to heart: Another toughie but so true. If a child is telling you he loves only you, that is for the moment until you tick them off. Then they love the other parent when they feel it is convenient. When negative emotions come out, it’s the same. Never think they mean it. Now, of course they need to own what they are feeling and apologize or lower the intensity, but as parents we need to understand it’s exceptional hormones. They love both parents equally, and have to learn to come to terms with overwhelming emotions as do their parents.
  4. Take care of yourself: I always say this in many blog posts and can’t emphasize it enough, self-care and time alone is MANDATORY not to lose your top as a Mom and human being You will see yourself having less patience with your child’s outbursts if you are tired too. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, as they say. 🙂
  5. Remember they are hurting or overstimulated : Again, this is hard if you are exhausted, but sometimes Michael has been overstimulated and hyper and needed me to be patient and bring him down calmly. Other times he has needed time to talk about his feelings and misunderstandings. Try and see what they see and meet that need.
  6. Don’t trigger them out of your own anger: When we feel disrespected as parents and take it personally, we may lash out with revenge like upsetting them on purpose as they are doing to us. This is particularly easy when your child seems to be set off about everything.  Yep. Been there. Breathe. It is not you wanting to do this, but your own lack of control that is propelling you to make bad choices. You love and would never heart your child. It’s important to follow point 1 and calm your anger before responding. Otherwise, you could make a tense situation even worse.

 

Exceptional Parents, what range of emotions does your Exceptional Child show you when they are hyper happy or very angry or anxious? Remember, the real child is somewhere in between the two extremes, just like us as parents. We are somewhere in that middle. Keep in mind that your child does not want to feel stuck or stressed. Some things are out of their control, and even what’s in their control is hard to navigate when they feel stressed. Be their rock and safe harbor, even when they are trying to break you. This is  when you need to be strongest for them. It starts by reassuring yourself as a parent, that you are taking the best care of yourself possible by eating, sleeping, exercising, and getting a break away from being an exceptional parent. It also means when you mess up, you admit it to yourself and your child and family and start over. Look for the rainbow on the cloudy days. All our children give us rainbow moments. And no matter what, never go to bed angry at them. Tell them you love them and will help them through it all. 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

Taking A Leap Into The Unknown-My Exceptional Child’s Social Bravery At Day Camp

So yesterday was monumental in so many ways. I was both excited and terrified. Yep. That about sums me up. It was the first day of a new day camp for Michael, and for the first time EVER, we decided to try a camp without Michael having a shadow/companion. Truthfully, I have been seeing him taking steps towards this for a long time, but I was scared. There. I said it. I was scared about people not accepting him for who he was. I was scared he would feel overwhelmed and not have extra support. With him having Type 1 Diabetes I also worried. Could he handle the social anxiety and managing his diabetes alone? Only one way to tell.  Try. I always tell Michael not to use his autism as an excuse that he can’t try new things. He asked me several years ago about autism and what it meant. He’d heard us talking about it and others in his therapy circle. He wanted to know why he felt different than other kids. We told him. As most children who find out who they are, he was relieved. He also began sharing more of what he was feeling inside. He’d always done that, but now I think he felt truly comfortable being who he was.

The next logical step was him interacting with kids who are not all like him and without an adult to facilitate. Yes, he is still working on how to make small talk with other children. Social skills groups have helped a lot. But he is getting there and his confidence is growing. I also worried about kids shunning him. I have to say, all the neuro typical children Michael has met over the years have been kind, inclusive and have asked him questions too, trying to engage him. Now that he is older, I have told Michael that should he feel comfortable, explaining his autism can help other kids understand him more.

But back to day 1 of new a new camp. On Michael’s first day anywhere, he has pretty much always brought the first comfort toy he attached to a two years old- a Barney stuffed animal. Now, this is not the original Barney. He met his demise in the washing machine many moons ago. As per usual yesterday, Michael had Barney in the car with him and checked with me about taking Barney into camp ONLY for the first day. This is what he would do usually. I sensed his calm in spite of the Barney, and told him Barney could come in the car, but he would not need him at camp. His fidget toy would be enough as he uses that to self-regulate when nervous or excited. I was totally shocked when he agreed and Barney stayed in the car on the way home with me! I don’t think it came as too much of a surprise, but when I picked him up at the end of the day he had done fabulously! He was ready. He had been ready for awhile. I have his Educator to thank for telling about how it’s important for him and other kids without autism to interact and get to know each other’s similarities and differences.  I learned that I need to continue to be as brave myself as Michael is, facing his social anxiety with a positive attitude knowing he will learn by doing.

Exceptional Parents, how often have you held your Exceptional Child back due to fear of rejection or hurt? They are capable of so much more than we sometimes think, and even if things don’t go well, trying and getting out there, will help them build the resilience they need to teach the rest of the world about what people with autism are capable of. 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.

 

Stepping Back and Getting Clear On What You And Your Exceptional Child Need Now

Our weekends have been getting progressively better, though there is still aggression, frustration and anxiety as Michael continues to hone in on his ability to control how he feels and what he does to us and himself. Regardless off how frustrated and overwhelmed I sometimes feel, I am proud as I see him making progress slowly in so many areas. Some days are better than others. Some days I am more tolerant and stronger than on other days too. And on some days when I feel like throwing in the towel completely, I find myself suddenly knowing exactly what direction I need to take. I call this my spirit talking to me. Prayer and meditation have made this voice very strong, and when I can’t hear it, I get quiet, physically and mentally so I can hear it more clearly. This weekend I heard it when it said we needed to take Michael off a medication he is on. I have been wanting to do this for awhile, but was worried. This medication originally helped so much with aggression, and what if things got much worse if he went off it? I did not like the side effects of it, and the new me has decided she will not fear the unknown. The only way to see what worked, medication and therapy and frankly life-wise, is to try and risk failure. And what is so bad about failure anyway I found myself thinking this weekend? It really means we are alive and human. Mistakes make us grow stronger. They make us appreciate the good times. Just like when we are sick we appreciate being healthy. You get the drift.

This summer has been another summer of growth for Michael and our family, and not just in terms of his health and challenges. Dad and I are being pushed to make personal changes too, as well as changes in our marriage, and in what we can expect from one another as each lets the other one grow. There have been LOTS of growing pains. There have been lots of moments when I have felt angry and said, why is it so hard? But, at other times, things have gone so smoothly, so easily. Decisions like taking Michael off his medication is so far going well. Encouraging Michael to join another soccer league has been a success. Pushing myself to clean out the junk, literal and figurative in my home, mind and heart, is helping me to see myself for who I am now, and what I want to change or improve upon, no excuses, no self-pity. We all have our crosses to bear as a good friend once said to me. She is so right. I am often awed by people who do not let life’s stresses and strains make them bitter. I decided five years ago to devote myself to becoming one of those  people. Those closest to me say I am. And when I start to stray from those good intentions, family and friends help me find my way back.

Now that I am back, wow! What a difference it makes being my body. What a difference it makes in how I treat myself, advocate for my son, and treat those around me. Even on hard days, I see my negative emotions for what they are-transient and temporary. I recognize exhaustion, self-pity and anger as things that I haven’t addressed and so I do and make the necessary changes. As a exceptional parent, I have been able to make positive changes and relate to Michael in a calm and loving way, due to operating from my soul upwards. Parenting with your gut is not easy work, but as long as you take care of you, remember the beauty and uniqueness of your child, and stay positive no mattter what, your heart and soul will guide your mind to the right place, people, and therapies for your child.

Exceptional Parents, are you feeling stuck wondering how to help your Exceptional Child through a rough time? Are you personally feeling stuck? As hard as it is, step back and look inside of yourself. How are you feeling? Are you tired, angry or scared? Before you can help and hear your child’s cry for help, you need to hear your own soul’s cry for help and heal yourself. You will know you are on the right track when your thoughts about life are more positive, you practice gratitude in even the most challenging times, and you admit when you are overwhelmed. Meditate, pray, exercise, reach out to others. Get counselling. Do what you need to do so you can get back in the flow of your life and give your Exceptional Child what they most need now-hope and love from the most important person in their life-their parent. 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.