Tag: affection

Autism, Wedding Anniversaries And Remembering the Growth In Between

 

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My wedding anniversary is coming up. This has always been an important day for me. It marks the day I formalized the love I felt for my partner who became my husband in front of God and all our family and friends. We began a life I thought would go very differently than the one we ended up living. But I have to say, the one we ended up living is way better. It took us awhile to get to the point where we felt that way. Before then, there were good times, bad times, and uncertainty. We had autism come into our lives through Michael, and though we did not see it as that at the time, it saved us. It made us stronger as individuals, stronger as a couple, and stronger as parents. Michael truly opened up both our eyes as individuals and parents as to what is possible and about difference in general.  And as hard as it is for us, we always remember that Michael is the one living with a very different brain in a world that may not always understand him or him it. He is braver than us yet has showed us to be brave too.  It is a learning process for all of us. We teach Michael about the world, and he teaches us about ourselves and what is truly important. Together we move forward as a family and as a couple.

 

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For many years when Michael was little, my wedding anniversary took a back seat. I don’t mean that I didn’t want or enjoy celebrating it, but that I worried a lot more about Michael than about how I marked it. I know Michael’s Dad felt the same. We enjoyed dinner and time together, but did not really understand or celebrate that we were a team, a force to be reckoned with in raising our son, an incredible human being that I know will do incredible things. We were just tired parents of  special needs child looking for quality time together. Two years ago that changed for me. After suffering a burnout/depression, I thought I had failed as a wife and mother and person. I needed to rebuild me, one brick at a time. I took time to heal, to practice things that I needed to do to become whole again. I relearned about what made me tick after six years of being Michael’s mother, therapist, and cheerleader. I also relearned about the woman I was when I fell in love with Michael’s Dad. She was funny, creative, had a zest for life and loved music, family, friends, movement and writing. She loved being creative and doing creative things. She loved people, spirituality and life. She loved her husband and spending time with him. That creative, fun, carefree woman came back only stronger. She came back with the inner little girl child I had let lay dormant inside me for too long. This inner child said,  you will find yourself if you take care of you and celebrate the whole you: the woman you were before you had an exceptional child with the woman you are now.

Exceptional Parents, how many of you are in relationships, but are not prioritizing it due to emotional and financial exhaustion? That is all a normal part of raising exceptional children. But just remember this. Our children were given to us for a reason, and if you let them, they can transform your life and your partner’s for the better. You will benefit, and your partner and your child will benefit from a you that is whole and remembers what and who it loved long ago and still loves now . Think of the incredible human being you have helped bring into the world, your child. Until next time.

 

A Flower In Bloom-Results from Team Michael

 

So this morning we will get our latest update on Michael’s ASD status for governmental purposes, but I have to say that Dad and I will be interested to see where he scores, not because it will be something we don’t already know, but out of curiosity how the world views Michael. I have seen him grow by leaps and bounds this year at school, even when we were in the midst of challenging behaviors. His body and mind have grown, and he is now able to understand so much more about his feelings, the world, and due to his recent victories over night difficulties and conquering handwriting problems, his confidence has risen too. Dad and I both proud, and though today’s meeting brings up a lot of emotions in both of us, I can honestly say that we, and Michael, have had lots of positive experiences with therapists and medical personnel. We’ve been lucky in that regard.

Michael, for his part, knows we are going to get the results from these members of “Team Michael,” so that we have even more tools to help him succeed in life. We now have regular talks about his autism, his different brain, and how and why he sees the world in this unique way. Dad and I are having to teach him appropriate physical boundaries with people as well as emotional ones. We have an individual who loves to hug, talk to strangers, and sometimes, well, has revealed some personal information. Dad and I are trying to tread that fine line of teaching him stranger danger while not making him too frightened of our world. He does not understand how scary it can be. I hope in time our examples, social stories, and being open to answering all his questions, will help Michael continue to mature and become confident in himself, in his body, and in the world. He talks to us in a more confident manner, sometimes even bordering on teenage arrogance. We have to correct him often when he uses “his attitude”, but another part of me sees the strong personality and mind behind it, and knows that once he learns social skills in a more appropriate manner, then watch out world, he’ll be a force to reckon with!

Exceptional Parents, how do you feel when you go to get evaluations for your Exceptional Child/dren? Are you ever surprised by what the professionals say, or do you feel that all of you are on the same page when it comes to your child’s progress? I hope it is the latter. There is much our children teach us parents and professionals, so I hope your experience is a positive one. I hope yours and your child’s “team” can see their talents, their intelligence, and help continue to lead your child, along with your help, on to bigger and better things. Until next time.

 

Remembering Collecting and Hugs-Neufeld and Exceptional Love

I have blogged before about Gordon Neufeld and his amazing work about “collecting” your children, and about how parents and adult role models are important in your child’s life. Children, especially as they become older and begin to identify more with peers, need their parents close by to talk to, relate to, learn from. Hormones, childhood anxiety and all the rest will affect them, on and off the spectrum. When parents are there to hug, hold their hands, but most importantly, hear them, that is what counts the most.

Michael had a challenging week last week, as I alluded to in a previous blog. Lots of new stuff was going on, rehearsing for his Spring Concert, bad weather where he couldn’t play outside, and stress about what he couldn’t control, anxiety about his nighttime fears, his worries about his new Gym and Swim session and who his instructor would be, and Mommy, me, doing her best to be there, but being very busy with work. I had quite the week, and though I was there to listen to him, play with him and talk, it was not enough. I was not hugging him enough, laughing and playing with him as I was distracted, not a crime, but a reality in being a mother,worker and having things like housekeeping and cooking duties to do besides. Dad was in the same boat. I saw a HUGE difference towards the end of the week when I was able to take Michael to the park and watch him play on the park grounds. The exercise calmed his brain, then he was able to open up even more to me. I took the time and effort to talk and hug him, and really connect with him. I began to realize what he, and I, were missing .Our contact with each other.

Exceptional Parents, when was the last time you “collected your children?” When was the last time you were really there, present for them, in body and mind? It’s hard when you are busy as are your kids. But regardless, you need to find little ways to connect with them, whether it be little hugs or cuddling, reading or laughing together or just talking withour audio visual on and nearby (guilty as charged). Small steps to building a strong parent/child bond. Until next time.

 

The Beauty of Renewed Affection: Exceptional Love Lessons

Talking with Michael after school and seeing my little guy making jokes  with me, I was reminded of what was really important yesterday afternoon. My son shows me this every day for at least a few minutes, if not longer. Lately, it’s been for longer periods of time which is a great thing. I am remembering how symbiotic a parent and child can be when they are on the same wavelength. When the parent finds a way to reach their child at their deepest emotional core, there is nothing better than this. I am experiencing this with Michael now once again. I can feel that he sees I truly understand him and want to help him. And I see that he feels the same with me. He wants to please me, wants to be close, and get along. He is physically affectionate with hugs and kisses, and when he needs his space, he’ll tell me “no Mommy, I don’t want help. I’m a big boy. I’ll take care of it.”

Sometimes as Exceptional Parents of our Exceptional Children life feels a little bit like a battlefield. You are are at war, but you don’t know why. You are at odds and not symbiotic with each other, and instead it feels like you are enemies with your child.  It’s not usually due to one person being completely wrong either. Like among two adults, various tensions and misunderstandings ensue and cause hurt feelings. Sometimes one of you is tired, sick or worried about something, and you lash out at your loved one. Sometimes both of you. You know, the “kick the dog syndrome”, for lack of a better phrase. As parents, when we are the exhausted, sick and/or stressed ones, this is easy to forget so we lash back at our kids. It’s an all too human reaction. Our kids feel our love, but also our distance. It’s important we remember to be present for them, but first it means being present for ourselves and nurturing that part of ourselves that needs nurturing.

I always say Michael is raising me to be the best person I can. He is showing and reflecting back to me what it is to be patient, calm, positive and persistent. It is not always easy to be all of these things. Sometimes it is near impossible, but I have learned that when I cannot be strong, I need to admit that to myself and to Michael. I need to take my time alone to compose myself, breathe, and then when I am positive and able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, slowly get Michael to start seeing that light again too. We both know it’s there. Sometimes it’s challenging to navigate in the darkness, but I know that with prayer, meditation, and looking for signs from the amazing people around me, I am able to find out what are the next steps to take in growing with my little boy.

Exceptional Parents, what surprises have you learned from your Exceptional Children after you’ve been through a tough time with them, either short or long term? How have they surprised you with what they have wanted and needed?  For instance, I see that Michael has been needing more affection and attention for positive things. Children are always learning and growing themselves, and they take us on that journey with them, if we are so lucky to follow the signs around us. Until next time.