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Easing Into Summer With Your Exceptional Child

Summer was officially here both on the calendar AND in our household as of Friday, June 21st when Michael and I finished school and work for the summer. 🙂 The last few days have been the usual. Michael and I planning out his first full week at home prior to summer camp, a choice I make to give us both a bit of a breather. This consists of structuring our days on my phone calendar and on a wall one. The wall one still has to be done, but we have our basis. After that, the next step is usually getting used to a new schedule of how our day will unfold. Due to the fact that in our neck of the woods Monday was the first long weekend of summer for us, Dad was home so planned out a family activity. All in all, things went well, with some minor hiccups as usual. This has always been the case as Michael adjusts to a new schedule and I find myself doing it along with him.

This time of year is always a little more stressful for us due to this change, but I have come to expect it, give him space as he gives me, and now things have gotten a lot better as a result. It’s not always perfect, and I find that reminding myself of the following tips helps me keep things in perspective a lot better for the long summer haul. Here they are for any other parents and children who struggle when the routine of school ends and a new one begins:

  1. Structure some of the unstructured and let the rest go: It’s important to have a plan to keep things moving but you know your child best. Leave some wiggle room in for unexpected things like weather changes, tiredness, or spontaneity. The last one is hard for many kids to handle, but is an important life skill to teach in certain circumstances as long as parents are up for it.  Be prepared for higher anxiety and riding it out.
  2. Decide camp week and family vacation in advance and share with your child: Depending on how much they understand and how much time they need, share the camp and family vacation schedule in advance to help them ease into summer better .
  3. Don’t plan too many adventures when you are tired : I made the mistake one year of asking Dad to take the last week of June off for family vacation right after school ended. It was a more stressful week for all of us as Michael was only slowly getting into vacation mode and tired from school, and Dad and I had had a crazy June with work. Now, unless there is a good reason, our family does family vacation later in August so it’s something to look forward to. Every family is different, do what works for you!
  4. Be gentle with yourself if you are feeling down: Caregivers who are exhausted cannot get into the summer vibe until they rest. If you need to sleep more, eat more, rest more and be alone more, don’t worry. You are not losing your mind. You just need to replenish your energy. I only start to feel like myself after about four or five days into the summer vacation. That’s me and I’ve learned how to pace myself.
  5. Be honest with your family about your limits: I’ve also learned through trial and error to be honest with my family about how much “together” time I can handle, and when I need “me time.” This has saved many a couple and family fight. Know what makes you happy and helps you be a better partner and parent and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.

Exceptional Parents, what are your summer plans with your Exceptional Child? Whatever they are, just make sure to be true to who your child and you are. Don’t follow the crowd as tempting as it may be. It’s always good to get ideas from family and friends, as they probably do from you, but follow your own agenda. You know yourself and your child/dren best. Until next time.

 

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Long Drives And Conversations-How I Learn About My Exceptional Tween

Michael has always been a talker and extremely social, with us and the world around him. Then puberty hit. He became social with peers and semi-social with us, but more often than not, I am noticing more retreating and heading to his room for private time alone with his videos or talking to friends. It is great when I have things to catch up on in the house, but I have had to get creative to find ways for us to bond and talk. We do eat meals together, but his appetite is not huge lately due to his medication so it is a quick deal. Other times he is either on the phone or on videos. How do I reach Michael? Well, interestingly, he gave me the opening. It is on long or longer drives around our neighborhood. Yes, as most of you know Michael loves to navigate on Google Maps and loves being in traffic. So you can guess that two of his favorite things to do are to go for drives in the car with ways he has mapped out, or to go for long walks with with me on busy boulevards where he has mapped out what streets he would like to take. Bike rides come in third. 🙂

As most parents will tell you, it is important for your child’s interests to become your own in order to continue to build a good rapport with them. If they see you loving what they love, they will continue to trust you and open up to you, even if you are no longer as cool as their friends. 😉 This has worked for me as Michael in many ways is the typical teenager, except with a dash of ADHD, anxiety, autism and blood sugar issues due to his diabetes that affect his moods one way or another. I have noticed on either walks or drives, he will talk about things that are important to him- friendships, crushes, puberty, anxieties about school or the upcoming summer vacation and we can talk about it together without it sounding like Mom grilling him again. He will also share with me his favorite music. When a song he likes comes on the radio he will tell me. We often have the same taste in music which has been a cool thing to talk about too.

With all the ups and downs he has with learning how to self-regulate, I can honestly say that our drives and walks though sometimes challenging for me when I am tired, have really cemented our mother/son relationship. I feel him opening up to me and sharing thoughts, and it is helping him to learn how to converse and handle emotions that come up. I also get a glimpse of the amazing kid I have, which I sometimes forget is there when he is having behaviors and well, rebelling against his parents as tweens do. Hey, I’m human too, and have my moments when I sigh and say, not another emotional crisis. It is important to truly be there for your child and see them in all their states and abilities. It is important to give them a chance to prove to you and themselves that they can overcome obstacles. And most importantly, it is important to encourage their passions-whatever it is.

Exceptional Parents, how do you continue to stay close to your Exceptional Children? Whatever their interests are, and of course it can be a bit of a challenge, try and immerse yourself in them. Show them you are fascinated by it. Ask questions. Stay close by if they want to talk about it. Eventually they will want to share and let you be a part of the whole experience. That is truly a priceless thing for a parent and child. Until next time.

Helping Your Exceptional Child Balance Structured and Unstructured Time

Having Michael fill his time schedule with structured and unstructured activities has always been a challenge, though when he was younger at least filling it with structured activities was easier. Why? Well, that was because as his Mom, I set the schedule of naps, meals, parks, play dates etc. As he got older, however, Michael understandably began demanding more activities that he wanted and that sometimes compromised my time more, like long drives or going to certain stores and only to the departments where he liked to go, ie. toy departments, and later to play on the IPADS or phones.

Unstructured time has always been difficult in our house. Michael never wanted to be home. He liked to be on the go all the time. I remember the summer when he was little that his boundless energy had me taking him to 4 parks a day, as with me not working camps were out of the question, and he was a little young anyhow. Well, that was the last summer I did that. It wore me out, he got bored, and when friends were not available, he did not know how to keep himself busy. He was never a kid that could watch movies, and even playing video games is challenging. His attention span for them is about five to ten minutes, though at school with friends he could play for a little longer.

Now fast forward to eight years later and we have the opposite problem almost. Unstructured time he adores! As long as he could spend it on his phone navigating Google Maps, watching his favorite videos or listening to music and stimming  to his heart’s content. I get it. This is his downtime, and I love it too as I get time to do things in the house or write. He could do that for hours on end which is not healthy. This is why I have continued to insist we do structured sports or other activities out of the house to make sure he does not become a typical teenager totally absorbed in the audio visual world. He was annoyed, but cooperated. After he got diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and puberty hit full steam, he also expressed less interests in playing in parks and going to stores, unless it was a store to look in the computer department. 🙂 I know this is a normal part of being a tween and soon teen, but sports is a great outlet to burn stress, so slowly I am trying to get him back into park outings.

Fortunately, he is willing to go to sports camp for a chunk of the summer, and he is starting to become receptive to doing other types of mother/son activities when he is home with me like long bike rides or walks. For our family vacation we are staying in town again this year as it is economically feasible, and I hope to get him a little more out of his shell with some structured and unstructured activities on our stay cation. In the end, it’s really about knowing your child’s limits and pushing a little more past that, as well as knowing when to let them take the reigns. On that note, what are some good ways to structure and un structure your child’s summer?

1) Give them choice for their unstructured time, when to schedule it in summer or on weekends during the school year.

2) Expose them to different structured extracurricular activities and have them choose 1 of 2 activities to practice.

3) Invite friends over or try a new place with a friend on a play date.

4) Have simple family activities that get them moving-bike rides, long walks, outings to stores or malls.

5) Negotiating- one hour of an outing for an hour of A/V time. Make sure they understand why you are encouraging them to go out in society. It is a great way to practice social skills and appropriate social behavior.

Exceptional Parents, how do you manage to balance your Exceptional Child’s structured and unstructured time? Do you give them some choice, all the choice, or choose it all yourself? As you have probably guessed, the best advice is a balance of following your child’s lead in what they want to do as well as giving them small nudges to participate in different activities. You will most likely get the best balance this way. Until next time.

When You’ve Had Enough-How To Deal With Your Frustrations Before They Escalate With Your Exceptional Child

What parent hasn’t had that moment, that moment when your own frustration, stress and exhaustion causes you to lash out at your Exceptional Child’s latest meltdown? Well, I had one of those moments this afternoon. I usually make a point to check in with myself and see if I am feeling calm and in control of what I am feeling BEFORE Michael comes in through the door. This afternoon however, I skipped this step due to it being one of those days where my coming home was about two minutes before he walked through the door. It had been a busy day at work, my seasonal allergies were flaring up even with meds as they have been for the past three days, and well, as he lost his cool escalating over a fear of being in trouble with his Educator over some challenging behaviors last week that I had shared with her, and unfortunately so did I. I tried to redirect him to his room to calm down, only I forgot to redirect myself until it was too late. Then I stormed out of the room angry and frustrated and he stormed out right after me. Sigh. I failed him and myself, I thought.

When it all calmed down and I had gone outside on my patio to regroup, which for me was having a cry, then doing some meditative breathing followed by a glass of wine, I realized that I had needed to do the regrouping for me right away on the patio or in some other quiet contemplative place.  I needed to be honest with myself and see that I was in no shape to help Michael through a crisis until I was calm and he had calmed down too. Neither of us were hearing the other one, and both of us were escalating the other one, meaning each of us was driving the other’s frustration.

This brings me to talking about the importance of parents handling their own frustration, exhaustion and stress, before attempting to help their child with theirs. And yes, this is easier said than done. That is why taking stock of how we are feeling on the inside is so important. Had I done that today, I would have seen that I was not yet equipped to talk to Michael about his stress, and though he would probably have gotten upset that I was not ready to talk at that moment, had I taken even five or ten minutes only, that could have been the difference to the afternoon ending on a better note. Good things to do to check in? Take a few deep breaths. See if you are experiencing any tightness or pain inside your body. See if there are any resentments or anger from the day you are holding on to. Most importantly though, be gentle with yourself. If you are kind to yourself, it will be easier to be kinder and more compassionate to your child as you are coming from a more loving place inside.

Exceptional Parents, have your frustrations ever caused a major escalation in your child’s behavior? You are not alone. You are human and you are entitled to your feelings of anger, stress and fear too. Just remember that unless you get those feelings under control, it will be hard to help your child through their fears.  Don’t be afraid to admit when you’ve reached your limit. Take time to regroup, and you’ll come back to parenting with a fresh perspective. Until next time.

Trusting Your Exceptional Child Alone-When That Day Comes!

I can’t believe that I am only writing about this now when I was so proud of Michael after it happened one week ago exactly. I guess it was just one of those times I worried that if I said out loud, things went really well, they would take a turn for the worse. I’m usually not so black and white anymore when it comes to Michael’s mood swings, but hey, what can I say? I still have my moments. 🙂

So what happened was that last Thursday night at Parent/Teacher night at Michael’s school, I was given a late afternoon appointment to see the teacher. There was no time to make any babysitter arrangements, and Michael has been asking for awhile now to be trusted to stay alone in the daytime. I left him a handful of times in the winter to run to the store quickly for about thirty to forty minutes. This though would mean he would be alone for two hours, late afternoon before dinner until Dad came home from work. Would he be able to handle it? I didn’t know, but he had been progressively showing me with his words and deeds that I could trust him not to turn on any appliances, open the door, pick up the phone unless he recognized the name, or do any other safety hazard to endanger himself .He was excited and understandably a little nervous, but I told him words I have been longing to say to him for awhile, “Michael, I trust you. I know you can do it.” And guess what everyone? He did it! Dad came home at six pm to find Michael listening to his music, the house in order, and he cooperated beautifully when Dad gave him his injection and warmed up dinner for the two of them. When I came home to my two happy boys, the first words out of my mouth was praise for Michael followed by promises to leave him alone again in the daytime for longer stretches. After that was mastered, we would work our way into solo evenings.

Now, this trust did not happen overnight. I have been seeing how Michael is becoming more independent over the course of the last six months, and longing for this challenge and decided to try last Spring leaving him for small increments. The trust we had in him seemed to fill him with more confidence, and he continues to want to do better and show us he can cope. There are boys in his class whose parents already trust them for long periods of time at home, so Michael is excited to be moving into this direction. I and Dad have continued to instill in him how this takes organization, maturity and trust on his part to do this, and on ours too  for that matter. Michael is getting closer every day to being able to handle himself, and I couldn’t be prouder. He is learning how to handle his emotions, build his trust in himself and us, and find a balance between growing up and asking for help when he still needs it.

The next step… giving him a key to let himself in after school and possibly later this summer, going to the park up the street by himself either on foot or bike. Eeek! I am on pin and needles about it, but on the other hand, I truly believe that as the parent, you will know when and if your exceptional child will be ready for such big steps. Start slow, and go from there.

Exceptional Parents, are your Exceptional Children ready to be left alone for short periods of time or do you see a time when they can be? Don’t despair if you are not there. Every child develops differently. As the parent you need to acknowledge where they are, love and support them to grow into confidence, and then you and they will see what they are capable of when they will be ready. Until next time.

How To Communicate In A Way To Foster Calmness and Control To Your Exceptional Child

“Mommy, don’t yell. I get more nervous when you raise your voice. When kids at school lose it, the Behavior Techs don’t yell.”

This was what Michael said to me this evening after a misunderstanding with Dad had his anger escalating and I had to half pull/half talk him into another room to calm down. He was no where near receptive to showing me his signal that his anger and anxiety were escalating and I knew what would have happened if he’d stayed in the room with Dad. It had happened with me in the past too, and if he was not redirected somewhere to calm down, he would get aggressive and either hit something, hit someone or throw something. After wards, like five minutes later, he would show remorse, and I or Dad would berate ourselves for not zoning in quicker when he had started escalating to help him de-escalate somewhere and possibly salvage a meltdown. Tonight, it was success on that front.

“Yes, Michael your school Behavior Techs are calm. They have the support of other adults and it is easier when you have support. I was alone as you were mad at Daddy and the same has happened when you were mad at me and Daddy had to take over to help you. Daddy and I are learning to use our strategies too, but sometimes we forget and yell. Thanks for the reminder.”

It was an eye opening experience for me. We talked for a little more, and I reminded him about using his signal to tell us that he needed to go and chill out RIGHT AWAY. He had said he was too angry to go and thanked me for helping him. I reminded him that he was right, and that the next time, he needed to go as soon as he felt his anger building. Michael nodded and agreed. He then went for his shower and completed his bedtime routine with no more issues. He apologized to Dad too.

Each time we have a positive or negative experience as a family I remind myself that it is all about learning how to keep doing what works and refrain from doing what does not. I also have learned, especially as Michael gets older and hormones make more unpredictable mood swings, how important it is for Dad and I to be the calm and control examples, including when we are seeing red on the inside. The same tips apply to us. Be aware of our anger. Be aware of our anxiety. Be aware of our escalating emotions. AND put the strategies that work for us in place so that we can show an example to Michael of what being gentle and forgiving of ourselves and others is like. We are getting there as a family. We have come a long way.

There is such insight in how Michael talks to us now. Even when anxious or angry, he is realizing how he alone can control his thoughts, impulses, emotions for better or worse. He relishes the moments he gets it right, and we are making sure to heap praise on him when he does, as well as show him we trust him to do other things only big boys do. (more on that tomorrow).  When he gets it wrong, he also admits, expresses regret, but adds,
“I am getting better. This is not as hard as I thought. I can do this.” Dad and I agree, and remind him of his potential.

Exceptional Parents, how often have you remained calm and in control when having a disagreement with your child? Have you had moments you wish you could take back? We all have at one time or another so don’t feel bad if you are in that category. The thing to remember is to learn from the experience, teach your child to learn from their mistakes as well, and no matter what, stay calm, focused, and in the present so the matter could be resolved as easily as possible. Until next time.

Seeing The Other Side-How To Talk So Your Exceptional Child Understands You

Being the parent of an exceptional child changes you. Heck, being a parent changes you, as you have to remember to talk to your child in a way that reaches them and helps them know you get them. When you have a child whose brain works differently than yours though, the challenge is even greater. Michael’s brain is affected by everything that makes him who he is-autism, ADHD, anxiety, and Type 1 Diabetes. All of these physical and mental things make up how he sees the world, how his brain organizes his reality, and as I’ve seen many times, how this reality is not always the same reality it is for me.

We have had many misunderstandings with one another when I would think he was not listening to me, he was purposely being defiant, and he was not listening. As he grew older and I learned more about neuro diversity and different brains, I began to see how much of what I thought was deliberate was not. He would often not understand where I was coming from, and even with a pretty perfect vocabulary and very good conversation skills, receptive language would still be a challenge. I began seeing how I could make myself more clear and see things from his perspective. I also began talking to him about seeing things from my side, and reminding him that we don’t all think alike, so compromise needs to be something to strive for. Discussing a stressful upcoming event is something I’ve had to learn to do with extreme patience. He will often ask the same question over and over. I used to blow up, as my patience would wear think, and then I would feel terrible. I would see that his anxiety is just too high and his ability to self-regulate is still developing so moving forward was high.

Once I learned how to use my own STOP analogy, that is stop and think before speaking, I eliminated a lot more escalation of fear and anxiety on Michael’s and my end. With autism there needs to be a lot of repetition for Michael to remember things sometimes and put his mind at ease. I devised ways such as schedules on paper or the computer to explain things to him. I also would write social stories or ask our team to help me right good social stories that would explain things more simply. Michael has always been a child so eager to learn and move forward, that this has not been too difficult a process.

As parents it is hard. We need to keep in mind that executive function and any kind of organization skills take extra time for our kids to master. That means we’ve got to extra patient when waiting for an answer from them, waiting for them to move to the next activity, and when frustration builds up more easily than with other kids, remember that it is not their fault or ours. It is two different brains viewing the same problem. As the adult and the one who can set the example, it is up to us to pause, take a deep breath, and redirect our child’s frustration and try and see why they are upset and how the two of you can put your heads together and fix it calmly. That has been the hallmark of success with Michael. When I have stayed calm, or at least as calm as possible, I have come up with great solutions to help Michael is even better, he has found the solutions to the problem. It is a humbling affair raising a little person, but there is so much our exceptional kids teach us. Don’t shy away from the lesson. You won’t be sorry you did.

Exceptional Parents, how often have you been able to put yourself in your Exceptional Child’s shoes? It’s not always easy, but as long as you take the time to see them as trying their very best even when they are failing in that moment, show compassion as you would for yourself, you will start to build a whole new rapport with your exceptional child. They will sense you trying to bridge the gap and meet them halfway. Until next time.

Report Cards and Seeing The Exceptional Child That Shines Within

Today was the last Parent/Teacher interview at Michael’s school. As usual, it was bittersweet for me. Another year gone by. More growth and opportunities to learn new things, other areas where there were challenges, but the wonderful staff at his adapted school is addressing them. Also, as always, I was able to troubleshoot and brain storm with them new ways to support him at home, now particularly with his severe anxiety which sometimes manifests itself as aggression at home.

For me it was hard too to see how his anxiety is limiting him in class. My anxiety limited me for years, but not having other challenges, I was able to perform academically and learn with much more ease. Michael, though bright, gets sidetracked easily and worries over things and needs constant redirection. This distraction causes him to lose focus in the classroom and affects his learning. His school is working with him on it, but though I vowed to keep in mind that he is in the best program he is meant to be in and not to push staff, the Mommy tiger in me was disappointed that many peers in his class moved into the modified high school program and Michael was not ready. I felt sad, as I know though academically he would struggle, socially he would benefit a lot in that circle. The hard on myself Mom part questioned the fact that maybe it was me who was at fault. Maybe I didn’t teach him self-soothing/regulating strategies young enough.

While speaking to the professionals, I made sure to say that I knew he would continue in the same academic stream he was in and that was good, as due to his anxiety levels now, he was certainly not ready at this time for other challenges. I truly believed this and agreed with their decision. But I took the plunge and asked if in the future they thought there may be a chance for him in a more academic intense program where there are more pressures? I feel bad as I did not want to sound like I was putting down the program he is in. It is excellent and where he needs to be, at least now. I added only that I think he is capable of  more, and I don’t want his anxiety holding him back. I am scared it is holding him back. Everyone reassured me they understood and knew where I was coming from. They were impressed I was willing to give a little push to him. I was glad, as pushing a little bit can yield great results.

I left the meeting in the end feeling both happy and angry with myself. I berated myself a little for not leaving well enough alone, but I needed to know what was holding Michael back, though deep down I already knew the answer. As a parent, we all want to do everything we can to ensure our child is in the best place they can be to learn, grow and develop. There is nothing wrong with asking questions, but sometimes we worry on how we will be perceived. The best results are gained when parents and professionals look honestly at where the child is and go from there. And as one of the staff told me, pushing your child and asking questions is your right as the parent. You want to make sure your child is where they are meant to be.

Exceptional Parents, do you worry about your Exceptional Child’s future? It is very normal. The most important thing to do though, is to always keep an open mind about where your child is now, and where they are headed. A lot can change, and remember , don’t try and fit your child into what you want for them. Aim for whatever helps them the most to develop to their fullest potential. I know in my case, Michael is in good hands with family and his school as we keep the lines of communication open. Until next time.

 

 

Walking The Tightrope of Handling Multiple Diagnoses-How To Hand Your Child The Key To Self-Advocacy

“Don’t take me off this medication Mom. It’s helping me focus better.”

But I wondered as Michael said this. It was also stunting his appetite and having Type 1 Diabetes means eating full carbs at each meal or else having sugars that are too high or too low. I also noticed he was having a crash with this medication late day. His psychiatrist told us that we could supplement a half dose of another ADHD medication to help him carry through until bedtime. Often times when kids crash there are higher bouts of anxiety, (check) and aggression (check). Michael and us experienced both a couple of days ago. So we tried that. It worked. Then we remembered if we adjusted his insulin, chances are the sugars would get better which in turn will help, most of the time, with anger control. Surprise, surprise they did. This came  after countless, and I mean countless other medication trials for ADHD that had terrible side effects, made Michael crazy and us crazy. I wondered if maybe I was wrong and we took him off too soon, but now that I see that this medication is going quite well, I realized I think we did the right decision. Michael’s feedback, of course, also played a huge part in keeping him on this medication as well as another one that is helping greatly.

What I just described is the typical day in Michael’s life and ours, but we are far from unique in our special needs community. Many exceptional children and their families are dealing with other co-morbid physical and mental health conditions, and trying to find the balance in teaching our kids to live their lives healthy, happy and as calmly as possible in order to have as many regular childhood experiences as they can.  I have been advocating for Michael since I first saw signs of his delays and I will never stop, but it is exhausting work. Many of my friends and other fellow exceptional parents too experience trying to raise a child with all the normal children’s stuff on top of mental and physical challenges and have their moments when they want to run for the hills. Sometimes they burn out. It takes its toll. But of course, they always return stronger than ever. This child is yours and you will fight for them to the ends of the earth and beyond.

Also this eventually becomes the new normal for all of us. No, we are not super parents as others call us, but rather parents who love their child, sometimes get it right, sometimes get it wrong, but for better or worse, work on helping our children succeed to the best of their abilities. Any parent of any child would do this. Our children miraculously too adjust to their new normal.

Then, if we are lucky, and some of us are, we can slowly start teaching our children to advocate for themselves-self-advocacy. I am at that stage, as I slowly start trying to show Michael how to figure out what his body and brain need, how to balance all his health conditions, while still learning it myself. I show him, most of the time, how to do this calmly which is an art. It’s not always easy, but with his new feedback on what he says is helping and hindering him, the team we have , and of course, trusting my own parenting gut, we are slowly getting there.

Exceptional Parents, how do and your child juggle it all as individuals and a family? I’m sure you have your easy and hard days. Just remember, self-pity is never a good idea for you and your child. Take it one day, one moment at a time. Deal with the most challenging things first, then work the other things in slowly. And most important of all, know that your child has already adjusted to their new normal. Hopefully they will be able to advocate for themselves one day and handle it all, but teach them first and foremost how to enjoy being a child and building wonderful memories with family and friends around them. Until next time.

Exceptional Child Without Exceptional Excuses- How To Teach Your Child Not To Use Their Challenges As Excuses

Michael is at the age now where he understands he is neuro diverse and that his brain works differently. Heck, he’s been at that age, for better or worse, for the past three years. I say for better or worse as being the smart kid he is, he has tried to use his different brain as an excuse when he has messed up. I got angry because I have autism and ADHD and it’s harder to control my emotions. My blood sugar was high too. And my medication upsets my stomach and I can’t have my vegetables.

Well, the answer is yes and no. While this is some truth in all of the above, I know that Michael is more than his diagnoses, all of our kids are. The tough thing has been explaining this to him, while also reminding him that he is different and if people don’t know what to make of his stimming or interests, it is up to him to explain himself in a calm and positive way. Different is not inferior or superior. It is just different. Our kids are amazing, but we want them to take responsibility for all their emotions, good and bad.

Too many people have a hard time with kids who don’t fit into the cardboard box so-called norm, but that is fortunately changing as more and more information is becoming available through other neuro diverse individuals about what it is like to live in a neuro typical world and have another outlook on life. Parents can connect with other parents and exchange information and help to get their children to thrive. I think in the end though, the challenge is reminding your child that they are responsible for all their actions, good and bad, and that no matter how hard it is for them to regulate, they need to find their own ways to self-soothe and advocate for change for themselves and all neuro diverse people. Of course, when they are little, we parents and other authority figures must do it. There does need to be some help in place to support kids who have challenges. The only thing is that it is important not to use said challenges as excuses that they can’t control anxiety, anger, fear, learning issues or anything else.

Yes, it will be hard. Yes, there will need to be support and understanding. This is where parents and other adults come in. It is up to us to advocate for exceptional children when they are young. However, as they get older we need to pass the reins of self-advocacy over to them. We need to teach them to advocate for themselves, but in a responsible way where they take control of their challenges and are able to be independent, happy and healthy in the world. This is a step by step process and takes time. The first step, is a no excuses mantra they must be taught. Then, help them find solutions.

Exceptional Parents, do your Exceptional Children make excuses for themselves at home or in school? Do they not believe in themselves? If so, it’s time to break that cycle that is defeatist so that they can learn what is  under their control and what is not. Once they know that, they will be able to achieve the ultimate balance in the world. That is what we all want after all, a healthy and balanced life for our kids. Until next time.