Category: walking

Exceptional Children And The Joy When Spontaneity Happens

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I was more surprised than Michael last Saturday on one of our traditional long walks when it went even longer. And what I mean about longer, is five whole blocks longer! Michael kept saying in a calm low voice:

“No, Mommy. I want to try it. I want to walk farther.”

“Are you sure Michael? We didn’t plan this honey. We may have to alter our afternoon plans.”

“That’s ok Mommy. I want to do it.”

I was so proud of him! Spontaneity! For a kid with autism being spontaneous is NOT easy, or is not usually something they like to do. It brings up all kinds of feelings of anxiety, stress and loss of control over the outcome. Come to think of it, sometimes neuro-typical Moms have a fear of spontaneity! Ahem! ūüôā Regardless though, wow, this was a milestone for Michael and me. And he let things unfold that whole day.¬†We did have to alter the afternoon. Dad got a little stressed, but then I gently pointed out how well Michael was adjusting. Dad smiled and went along with Plan B. Michael¬†showed us, and I hope this post can show all people, neuro typical or exceptional, that just because your brain works a little differently, does not mean you cannot do things like a neuro typical person and they cannot do or feel things like you.

We walked to the end of the five blocks and he was tired, so tired that we asked if Dad could meet us at the shopping center we were originally going to drive to, and then we would all go home together. It ended up being a fun family trip. Michael learned that he couldn’t walk THAT far yet, but when the time was right, he was older, had a little more stamina, we would attempt it together. I loved how he did not view saying he was tired as a failure. That was something that he would have done not too long ago, like several months ago. He has grown up so much. Dad and I were and are¬†very proud.

Exceptional Parents, when have your Exceptional Children taken you by surprise with a spontaneous idea, game, excursion? If it hasn’t happened, fear not. It will. Start by introducing little elements of surprise into their day. I’ve been doing that with Michael thanks to the wonderful advice of a friend who is doing that with her son who has autism. And as a result, tolerance for change and novelty will grow. Enjoy your child, and help them enjoy life and being in the moment. Until next time.

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6 Ways Advocating For My Son Michael Has Helped Me in My Business

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As I was taking a shower yesterday, I thought of how far I’ve come in my parenting journey and in my life, and of how one thing helped me take the next step I needed to take: advocating. I started thinking that even with all the fears, mistakes and challenges, I have learned so much about how to run my life and business, actually pretty much everything, from advocating for Michael in school and life. As cliche as it may sound, we learn through our trials more than through our victories. I tell this to Michael all the time, and he now repeats it back to me as well as reminding me to “smile” and “use my strategies.” Yes, sometimes it is him talking back. At those times I take a deep calm breath, and tell Michael he is being rude and needs to apologize which he eventually does. But there are other times I can see, feel, nd hear what he is telling me: Take it easy Mom. You know what to do. Advocate for yourself. Write, talk, and live your life the way you know you need and want to. Tell others that it is in their power to change their own circumstances.

Below are 6 Ways I have learned to advocate for me while advocating for Michael (and make my life better):

  1. Trust your gut: Yes, Moms and Dads, we¬†¬†are told to trust our gut when advocating for our children’s education and opportunities. Do you trust it when making choices for ourselves, personal or business? If not think of fighting for you and what you need like you fight for your child. It is the only way you will truly be happy in life.
  2. Confidence in public speaking: I was afraid to address a wall before Michael, unless it was at one of my writer’s groups. Even then, I felt like I was slipping into my characters and it was not ME reading so I relaxed. I have learned, and continue to, how to speak at conferences, workshops, events and am excited to do so. I am out of my shell whether I like it or not. And you know what, I kind of like it. ūüôā
  3. Asking for time, money, help: This was another hard one for me before. Now I know when to ask for assistance, outsource help, or ask for time for me, for my writing, for other pursuits. I deserve to feel and be whole. We all do.
  4. What to let go of and what to pursue: At times I still have difficulty with this one, but for the most part, I have learned what is worth fighting for when it comes to services and help for Michael, how to play with him on his terms and mine, and now in my business and personal life, which people I want to stay in my life and which I no longer want in my life as they are not supportive to me as a person.
  5. How to enjoy the simple things: Being a Mom has helped me remember how to be playful, and how the best learning and growth take place when we do that. With Michael it has been doing the normal simple family activities. How this has translated for me in my life has meant no more guilt at taking time for walks in nature. You can learn a lot from mother ducks. They lead, their ducklings follow, but it is their good example of what to do that helps everyone. I also have learned how exercise, lunches or dinners with friends, writing for pure pleasure and singing and dancing help clear my mind.
  6. How to be happy with “me” and not be someone else:¬†In learning how to help Michael be the best little person he could be, I¬†have learned how I used to one of those women who thought that others had it all and I was lacking. Not anymore. I like me, and though I admire others for what they have accomplished, it is just that, admiration, not jealousy or envy anymore.¬†One day I will have the things I like in their life,¬†but on my terms and with my twist on it. I am in charge of my own destiny and am starting to go after things I want and need to live a happy and whole life.

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Exceptional Parents, how has advocating for your child changed your life? If you are just starting on your advocating journey and haven’t seen this change, don’t worry. It will come. When your child is born you are as much transformed as they are, as you both raise each other. You’ll see that though special needs parenting is a hard journey, bitter and stressful one day, a spiritually moving experience¬†the next, it will equip you with skills, and help you become stronger than you ever dreamed possible. You’ll need to be to help everyone in your family grow and succeed in life. And a funny thing will happen along the way. You will find joy, purpose and a true calling and vocation that will fill places in your life that you did not know were empty. Good luck on your journey. I am here to guide you if you need it. See my website http://www.exceptionalparenting.net¬†for further details. Until next time.¬†

Exceptional Space and Using Strategies to Cope

 

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Yesterday we all went ¬†back to our normal routines of school and work. That felt good for me, Michael and his Dad, but we did have many good moments on Tuesday after Michael’s appointment was finished. Michael and Dad went to play Frisbee in the park after we had a family lunch of pizza, while I went grocery shopping, and then later in the day when Dad was cooking dinner, Michael and I went for a long walk together. It was just what we both needed after the busy day. As usual, we talked about things that were currently bothering Michael, like getting a line at school for not listening (his second of the year only as he listens VERY well at school), questions about upcoming activities on the weekend, his first drop off, pick up party where Mom and Dad won’t be staying (more on that tomorrow) :), and about the upcoming PED DAYS and who he will be seeing. We also had moments of quiet when we just walked together holding hands. It was peaceful and I could feel the tension melting off of Michael and I. With the nicer weather coming, I can’t wait to have more moments like those!

Michael has also started trying to use his strategies to calm down more often and will openly talk about his feelings of anxiety, recognizing where they are originating and what to do about them. He also immediately recognizes when he is wrong, such as apologizing right away genuinely with an apology for insulting one of us or slapping us. And I could see the shock on his face. Oh no, I did it again. He’s getting there in seeing that he has control over his feelings and he has to pause a moment before responding when he is frustrated. I found a great pictogram from Pinterest which I put up on the fridge which shows that anger is ok, but how NOT to handle your feelings. Do not hit people, things or yourself. Simple and to the point. I have seen him looking at it curiously and I remind him it is there, as well as where his calm box toys are, his calm corners and his places to decompress. Today too he said, “if you send me to my room, you are not punishing me. I can go there to calm down and do my strategies.” It’s so wonderful to see him getting it, that all the hard work he is doing with the school psychologist and what he did with the Psycho Educator is helping. He is grasping it.

Exceptional Parents, what helps you and your child tune out stress and tune into each other? What strategies work to help you both regroup? Sensory Massage is another strategy that I have used with Michael as well as Qigong Massage. I believe his growing affection and cuddling again with me is because with these massages and his own tools, his nervous system is learning to relax. You have to trust that your child knows how to relax too and find their balance. They just need to know they have you in their corner. Until next time.

Exceptional Strategies to Handle Stress

 

 

Michael continues to amaze me both with what is stressing him out, as well as with how he is coping with stress. He made me laugh today when in his Social Skills class, the teacher asked the class how they coped with stress. They all talked about their strategies; deep breathing, swinging ,trampoline. Michael mentioned walking around the house or sometimes outside and then surprised me by telling the teachers one of my strategies: going into the bathroom, locking the door and breathing. The only thing is that Michael added his own touch. He closed the lights and lay in the dark on the floor. I remember the first time he did this. I got scared and knocked on the door to see if he was OK. He answered that he was fine, and lying on the cold floor was calming. Go figure. This is the same child who cannot lie down in a warm comfy bed alone at night, but I digress.:) He then added that Mommy does this sometimes when she is upset, then made the teachers laugh by telling them in the summer I sometimes would go take a glass of wine out to the patio to calm down. True, but I thankfully use that a lot less now that I have developed healthier coping mechanisms for anger.

 

Michael is learning to do this too and it is great. He is able to tell me that he is sick to his stomach with worry and I am trying to help him connect how he physically feels with how he will mentally respond. By the same token, he is helping me to see how I need to make those same connections in my body and mind. Michael has helped me fine tune my own ways of handling stress, being “off” in my own body, and what I need to change to be balanced or calm. He will say “Mommy, you are talking in your mad or scratchy voice.” Sometimes he is not reading my emotions right, but more often than not, he is right on the mark. And this is helping me to focus on how I need and want to grow to be more patient, kind and open to him, and to others around me.

Exceptional Parents, how have your coping mechanisms for stress changed over the years since having your Exceptional Children? How have you changed the way you see and handle things in your body? If it’s been awhile since you revamped this, have another look. It’s important to fine tune how you view things with how your views of the world change as you get older. Remember, let your gut inside guide you and model that calm positive energy for your children. Until next time.

 

Long Walks And Exceptional Conversations

A few weeks ago when the weather was nicer, Michael and I did something we had not done in awhile. We went for a long walk and talked about things on his mind, silly things, serious things, and everything in between. Despite talking a lot and having an easier time expressing himself, it is hard for Michael to fully tell me what he is feeling at times. That is why on walks it is easier. I love these times with him, though it is sometimes tiring walking and talking at the same time! (This is incentive for Mom to get back into regular exercising alone EVERY week, but I digress). I am always amazed by Michael’s questions about life, his observations around him, his knowledge of where we are directions-wise and where he is going in other areas. I love his curiosity about the world, about life around him, and about people. This is how you learn, I am never tired of telling him.

Seeing Michael like this, reminds me about how I am at my best when I exhibit curiosity about the world, and about the people and places around me. When I walk and move in general, it empties my mind of stress and fills it with positive thoughts and ideas to push me further into personal growth and happiness, as an individual and as a Mom. Once again, Michael is showing me the way here, as many children remind us “adults” how to open ourselves up to learning new things, exploring and being in the “joy of the moment.”

Exceptional Parents, what do you learn when you are out and about with your Exceptional Children, particularly on walks or out playing? I’m sure when they are physical and moving it gets their brains going in a whole new direction and yours too. I’m sure your communication, in whatever way you communicate, is better, and you are both able to grow as individuals. Never underestimate the power of movement and exercise to help stimulate the brain in a whole new way. Until next time.