Tag: anxiety

Doctor Visits, More Exceptional Changes Ahead, and Love All Around

 

Michael had his ten year wellness visitits with his new pediatrician the other day. It went extremely well. Michael loved his old pediatrician, and was nervous understandably about having a new doctor. She was and is, however, in a word outstanding. First of all, she let him do the checkup standing up and moving around. She let him ask her all kinds of questions and answered them, and in five minutes flat gave me some wonderful autism social skills websites, told me about some interesting findings about autism that she learned from seminars and therapists, and let Michael take home a fidget toy for good listening. She also strongly suggested we have Michael evaluated for ADHD and Anxiety. She feels he has more ADHD Symptoms than Autism now and with the right controls and possibly medecinewe could help him futrther Everything inside me froze. I have been suspecting ADHD since he was a child along with Autism, and have had most professionals disagreeing that he has it. Some have said there is a possibility, but this is the first doctor who outright said she feels strongly that we should evaluate him. She was surprised y how quickly I agreed. I told her my own suspicions, and told her as well my dilemma with medication, but that we were willing to explore. She uttered that it is not something she recommends outright or feels is always necessary. It is necessary, however, to look at all avenues. She looked at me and said it’s important to prepare myself either way. It was sweet of her to be so kind and honest. I looked right back and told her that I knew there are co-morbid conditions with autism and am prepared to accept whatever else Michael has or develops. He is, and always will be, my child whom I love and will advocate for. I also told her, I take things one step at a time and I teach Michael to do the same.
Afterwards coming home Michael was very upset about the possibility he could have something else that may require him taking medication. He promised me solemnly he would listen to whatever I say so he would not need to take any medicine toolbox, and that the new people he would eventually meet would join “Team  Michael.” They would  be more key players to help him be his best self at home as well as at school. We had a calm discussion and a lovely afternoon and evening, but afterwards when Michael did fall asleep I found the shock of it all hitting me hard. You know as a parents your exceptional child will have many things to deal with as will you.

 

But the fact of starting over with a new condition and learning about it, though I do know quite a lot thanks to friends who have filled  me in, was disconcerting. I realized I was in a little bit of shock, like I had been with his Autism diagnosis even though I had seen that coming from a mile away. I would need time to wrap my head around learning about Michael’s other potential condition should he have it, and what to do to help him. Medication and the thought of it also terrifies me. I am having to deal with my own fears about making the right decision when one professional told me meds would be a disaster, another things it would be a great part of the toolbox, and a third is undecided. Where does that leave a parent? Basically with using her gut, and trusting in that feeling to do right by her child. The sheer weight of having your child’s life in your hands is daunting. When they are exceptional, you are even more scared to make the wrong choice. You know what I have come to learn, however? With love and trust in yourself, you will always make the right choice to help your child and family. That calm I showed Michael is there inside of me. It does not mean I am not scared, sad, worried about the future. But I trust in God, in the Universe, to give me the strength I need to help Michael go where he is supposed to go.

Exceptional Parents, what shocks have you received concerning your Exceptional Children and their mental and/or physical health? How did you put their fears to rest while doing the same for your own, if you managed to? It’s ok if you are angry, scared or worried. It’s ok to even show a little bit of that. Share it with a trusted adult who can help you work through your feelings and focus on taking things one step at a time. Let your child see you strong, focused and proud of them. They are little warriors no matter what, and remember how whatever they have or do not have, is just one small part of who they are.  They are in big part the wonderful child that has helped you see that potential lies deep in all children if we just give them the chance to show us. Until next time.

 

I am a writer, speaker, and parent coach. As the parent of an exceptional child who is raising me to lead a bigger life and purpose, I understand the challenges nonetheless of raising a child who truly thinks out side the  box and has difficulties at times with the way many others see the world. My passion is helping parents to handle the challenges of raising their children to be fully functioning in our world, as well as teaching them the miracles that their child truly is in spite of the difficulties. I truly believe in helping parents lead lives of hope, health, and balance for their own sake and that of their children’s and family’s. For more information on my coaching programs or to book a FREE 30 MINUTE EXPLORATION session with me, see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

It’s Spring. The weather is changing and sometimes exceptional children have a difficult time managing big emotions. Is your family struggling to handle emotional challenges? Maybe you need to tweak the way your family handle anxiety? If so, download my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS

 

Navigating Exceptional Family Anxiety And Following Your Child’s Cues

adorable, baby, bear

Spring is around the corner so I know that is one of the reasons Michael is starting to get more anxious He has, however, made great progress with using strategies to handle his stress such as talking about his feelings, going to a calm spot to recharge, and crying without hitting himself, others or property.  I have seen how hard he is working and our home token system has been fine tuned as well. He has been testing us with this, but understands the way it works and overall I am very impressed. He has adjusted to some changes in my work schedule, and now communicates his fears and anger better too. We are happy to see the aggression and horrible language replaced by true expressions of fear and anger and worry. The thing is that Dad and I are worried just how anxious he is about everything and how much control and reassurance he needs to have about everything in his life. Dad and I are worried about how hard he is on himself, how he stresses about things he is good at, and how upset he gets when something can’t get resolved immediately. We are constantly looking to add more tools to his toolbox, and are strongly considering some medication for his anxiety, though we are nervous about this step.  There are pros and cons as with everything else. We need to find out all we can and then make the best decision possible.

At the same time I am beginning to see that Michael needs a little more TLC these days. He is a little clingier in some ways, only wanting me to put him to bed, worried when he can’t find me in the house and talking A LOT when he does find me. Yet, he openly says he does not want to share certain things about his day with me and he does not want me to hug or kiss him unless he specifies when or where on his cheek. As I said before, he is a tween with  some little boy fears left over. I am simply reminding him I am there if he needs me. He has also been there for me too though. When I was feeling particularly stressed one afternoon, he wrapped his arms around me and said, “you’re the best Mommy ever,” and “it’s ok if you are sad or got angry Mommy. We all feel that way sometimes.” My favorite is still when he will give me a big hug/squeeze due to love and sensory issues an then say, “Ahh, I love Mommy’s neck. It is so warm. It is like a spa.” Our relationship has gotten much closer. And even with Dad they fight, but he loves his father very much and jumps up in excitement when Dad’s key turns in the lock. It’s just navigating the worries, the obsessive questions, and the loudness. I know they are all due to stress, and we are doing our best to remind him to pace himself, but it is not always easy. Still, we follow his pace. I have learned new ways Michael needs me.

 

He’ll need me to reassure him, to do a quick drawing or explanation of what’s about to happen or sometimes it’s reminding him how proud I am of him. Other times it is stopping completely what I am doing and focusing on him. He and I both do well with that and it works to help us both feel calm and connected. Last night for the first time in awhile, I was able to give Michael his full bedtime routine. At the end as he wrapped his arms around my neck and we cuddled for the ten minutes I stay in his room, he sighed happily and said, “this is my favorite part of the night. I love when you lie down with me and I can hug you.” My heart melted instantly. I quickly went over all the things I did right and vowed to set us both up for success with future anxious times.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle your child’s anxiety and stress? What is part of their toolbox and yours? The hardest and most important thing to remember is to stop and really look and listen to your child and where they are coming from. Only when you see their pain and hurt, (and stay calm and centered yourself), can you guide them to make healthier choices for handling stress. Until next time.

 

How to Handle Anxiety And Sensory Issues in an Older Child

analog, binder, blank

This week has been an interesting week with Michael. Well, pretty much every week is interesting. Some weeks are more challenging than others, good and bad. Last week was a good week overall, but I did notice a lot of anxiety in Michael. The good thing is he is learning to express himself better and talk about his feelings. The bad thing is that the same measures that used to work (offering him sensory massages, pillows to squeeze and showing him his exercise ball) don’t always work. He will sometimes actively fight me on even trying these techniques. This is what I am calling the curse of the tween hormones, with a touch of autism. I add the last part for a little bit of humor to get us through the tougher moments when Michael is pretty arguing with us about everything. This morning it was when he would do his chores so he could accumulate money to buy his next toy. Weekends are tough as the structure changes, and though it has been nice taking a break from extracurricular activities, Dad and I now he needs them again. The brain break was good, but physically for stress relief and sensory reasons we see how he really needs to move.

It’s tough though, as he is at the age when he does not like challenge. Our school physiotherapist warned us that due to a mild hypotonia, he may not like being physically pushed to go a little farther. But in order for him to get strong and build muscle,  he would need to move as this would help him. When he moves, just like any child, he also burns energy, feels more relaxed and positive, and handles stress and sensory issues better. It’s a tough balance, and one I am slowly learning to navigate as the mother of a tween. In all areas, he is growing up, pushing us away in daytime, and then pulling us closer at night. Sundays he dreads going back to school even though he is doing well. It is the pushing of limits. He wants to play it safe, as we are trying to teach him that only by taking risks can he make progress. I find that by giving him some freedom, I am helping him learn his own power. But then I must remind him, these are your strategies to calm down. Let’s write them on a paper. Let’s look at pictures of the equipment. Now you try what works.

Exceptional parents, what sensory issues/anxieties are your experiencing with your Exceptional Child? Are they close to or at the tween age or younger? You will see your child move through cycles, no matter what age they are. There will be good days and bad days. There will be victories and setbacks. The most important thing you can do is remind your child that though there are rules they have to follow with you and adults around them, they also have a measure of control over their life, their anxiety, and their sensory issues. Praise them when they make a good choice. Calmly redirect when they stumble. And if you need a minute, give yourself a time out to breathe and move forward. Only if you are calm and centered, can you help your child move forward into independence as stress-free as possible. Until next time.

I am a writer and parent coach who is passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation Session, see my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

SPECIAL OFFER: February is the month of love. We show love to our children, partners and friends But what about to ourselves as parents? Do you know how to practice self-care and truly love the amazing parent and person you are? If you need support in this area of your life, until Feb. 28th I am offering a FREE ONE HOUR one on one coaching session, as well as a second one hour one on one coaching session at 50% off regular price. Give yourself the gift of self-love, and learn some great tools to begin to put your needs first so you can parent in balance. Contact me at joanne@creatingexceptionalparenting.com or 514-827-7175 to book your Skype session. www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

 

Save

Bedtime Battles-10 Ways For Exceptional Moms To Cool Down

So I did it again. I know better. I know how audio visual, and nighttime anxiety, and testing behaviors come out at night. And still, still I gave Michael a chance to get a later start on his bedtime routine. It quickly became a bedtime battle with Michael getting upset and me yelling. Really, I’m more disappointed in myself as I know better usually. He’s a great kid, but like any kid, he will do what he has to do to stall going to bed.

“I’m not tired Mommy. I can go to bed at 10:00 pm.” Yeah right. Then his eyes are closing at school, (his own admission) and I can see by the end of the day he is fried. So, I said it before but I did not stick to it. Sometimes, even with good intentions us Moms make mistakes. Starting tomorrow, I will be more firm that with a heavier bedtime schedule he needs to start earlier or else do a shorter routine. And I will plan on enforcing this more strictly and holding myself accountable. Another thing I did wrong was that I was not forceful enough after school that I needed to work. Michael was testing and rude, then apologetic and clingy, so much so that I got no work done after school then no work done after dinner due to fighting about bath so I was, well, feeling sorry for myself and licking my own wounds so to speak. I know now that this will not help anyone so I will not do it anymore.

Last night made me think of all the ways I can learn to hold my emotional stuff together and give other parents tips on what works for me. Some of these are harder to implement than others even though I know better, but I am getting there. So, here are my 5 tips:

  1. Rid yourself of your own emotional angst:  Lots of parents, Moms especially, keep their own feelings in until they burst. Don’t do this. You don’t help your child or yourself and you cause lots of stress that is not necessary. If you feel anger or resentment at your child, yourself, your partner, find a productive outlet to release it and do something positive for yourself.
  2. Make sure you are sleeping enough: Sleep deprivation or exhaustion does not help anyone in your family. A person will not tolerate stress well until they are rested and calm. The world will still turn if you go to bed early a night or two. Try it.
  3. Remind yourself your child is not trying to make your life miserable: It is hard sometimes when we are frustrated and tired to see challenging behavior for what it really is; a child’s cry for help and attention. We need to not take it personally, see what is bothering them, and go from there. But, we need the emotional distance from our own feelings before getting there.
  4. Breathing and meditation: I know. I’ve probably said breathing and meditation a million times in my blog posts (and will put them in a million more), but it is so important to take are of yourself with mindfulness and staying the moment. Even when I fail to do this, yoga and meditation have showed me HOW to get back on the right track.
  5. Exercise regularly: Finally am getting back to a regular exercise routine in 2017. I always am shocked how I make excuses not to do something that makes me feel wonderful inside. I was having some mini anxiety attacks earlier in the week, and then I realized why: tired and not exercising to handle stress. I did one workout this week and am planning two more, but even after one I felt like a million dollars. I did a 2o minute Zumba routine. Do anything Moms. Walk. Go on a treadmill, swim, bike. Your body will thank you a million times.
  6. Get a massage or go to a spa: For those of you lucky enough that your partner can do it, ask for one and give one in return. It’ll spark something else. For everyone else, go every  few months if you can afford the splurge. Lots of spas have gifts cards, discounts and I like to go to a Hammam experience at a local spa near me. It is in my price range and can tide me over till I get a one hour or one hour and a half massage.
  7. Make quality time with your child before bedtime to bond: When you are truly bonding with your child in all senses of the word, you will feel the connection. They will not need to act out and will feel secure and you won’t get upset.
  8. Find out what about their behavior is triggering you: This is something I just learned about recently. What our kids do that bug us is usually what we did to our parents or how they responded to us. See if you can get to the bottom of it by journaling about your feelings or talk to a therapist.
  9.  Spend time out with family and friends: This is important to do alone and with your child. You’ve got to see them in a good context and not just in when they are misbehaving.
  10. Cry, scream, write, get it out of your system: Don’t be afraid to let out your emotions when you are alone and it is safe to do so. You need to leave room for everything in your body, mind and soul, including the bad emotions.  As long as it is cathartic and does not make you delve deeper into depression, it is the way to go.

Exceptional Parents, do you have your own tricks to stay calm with your children that are different from those above? If so, great. I’d love to hear them! If they work, more power to you. If not, feel free to try any and all of the above. The important thing is to remember we all have our breaking point, but to try to not let yourself get to that point for everyone around you. Until next time.

  I am a writer and parent coach who is passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation Session, see my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

SPECIAL OFFER: February is the month of love. We show love to our children, partners and friends But what about to ourselves as parents? Do you know how to practice self-care and truly love the amazing parent and person you are? If you need support in this area of your life, until Feb. 28th I am offering a FREE ONE HOUR one on one coaching session, as well as a second one hour one on one coaching session at 50% off regular price. Give yourself the gift of self-love, and learn some great tools to begin to put your needs first so you can parent in balance. Contact me at joanne@exceptionalparenting.com or 514-827-17175 to book your Skype session. 

Honeymoon’s Over- Autism Behavior Triggers And How Exceptional Parents Can Learn from Them

So this afternoon the honeymoon period was over, the honeymoon period of NO behaviors for a good three weeks. I wasn’t clear and concise with something. I said one thing, then changed my mind. Michael was hungry, tired. It was just before dinner. As a matter of fact, I was getting dinner on the table. I said something he did not like. He started protesting, yelling, then before I could stop him, he broke a glass that was near the sink. Immediately he looked to see if his hand wasn’t cut. It wasn’t. I informed him this had cost him one of his tokens. He was upset, started to hit his head and continued trying to bargain with me and justify what he had done. I told him to calm down. I spilled the water from draining the pasta that I had cooked, and was losing my temper too. I quickly took a deep breath, and told Michael to go get washed up for dinner. We would talk at dinner. He finally listened, did what he was told and we talked strategies- how he could have handled himself better, why he needs to listen (not just to get things), and the importance of learning from our mistakes. It was a good conversation. Due to losing one of his 6 tokens, he did not get the usual one hour reward of time on the computer as he normally did, but the thirty minutes he gets for earning 5 tokens. We show him he can still succeed, and next time do better.

I’m sure this scenario plays out, and will play out I’m sure, many more times at homes where exceptional children reside. It’s normal. They don’t hear the boundaries. They are tired. They get frustrated and don’t have good coping mechanisms and they blow. It’s not easy. Even children who are on medication have these moments. I used to wonder as a Mom who has not gone down that route, if this would solve the problem. I think it is helpful, like any intervention, but should be used when it is used, in conjunction with good anger management strategies. When the child is aware and can grasp consequences for their actions, this is the best time to teach. I always do a rewind with Michael after such an incident and have been for the last year. I think it is helping him like it helps me, as long as we don’t overdue it.

What did I learn from last night’s episode? Yes, I am a parent coach and have learned many strategies to cope with my own anger, stress, and feelings of being overwhelmed in the last three years. But I am also a human being, and I have my breaking point. I allow myself the room to make mistakes, learn from them and regroup. I could have paid a little more attention to my words and been more concrete. Now, I’m not blaming myself for Michael’s outburst. His feelings reactions are his responsibility. But I am only saying that I need to be conscious of my words, stress level, and what I mean. With exceptional kids, they can often go from 0 to 100 very easily, particularly at times of the day when they are tired.  Michael has made leaps and bounds in his awareness. As I have blogged before he is even trying to do some neuro typical manipulating (as all kids do), with it in mind. I am proud, but it also means as a Mom, my job title got harder. It’s ok. I am ready for it.

Exceptional Parents, have you recently had breaks in your honeymoon behavior period with your children? How does this make you feel? It’s normal if your first reaction is stress and despondency. Self-pity sometimes comes in too. Give in to it for a few moments, but then it’s time to get back in the saddle. Think of the gift of the mistake. Learn from it and help your child to learn from it. Together the two of you will become stronger and closer as a result. Until next time.

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

Looking to beat those winter blahs? Download my FREE EBOOK: “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS

 

The Highs and Lows of Exceptional Back From Holidays

We survived. Oops. Maybe I am being a little presumptious. After all, it is only Friday morning. There is still a whole day to get through before I can really say that we survived the first week back from the Christmas holidays, but all things considered with Michael anxieties, aggression and stress, it went fabulously. My little guy is doing so well, yet still I see the struggles- the struggle to find his voice yet learn to follow rules, the struggle to structure his after school time after home work because now he can’t play outside like before, and the struggle to control his ever raging hormones that tell him he is a big boy, but don’t help him when he is frightened and needs reassurance he is smart, listening and can handle change. And change is coming his way in his family, at school, with friendships. It both exhilarates and frightens him. He does not know if he is a big boy or a baby, and will play each role as it suits him. He does not always like when I call him on it, but call him on it I do. I am being firm but gentle with him teaching him loving boundaries and how he can’t just blow up because he does not like something. I also will praise him when he does good and correct him when he says crying like he did the other night, ” I am a bad boy.” I responded with, “No Michael. You made a bad choice. It’s time to make choices. You are smart enough to do that.”

The look of surprise he gave me almost made me cry. How sad that our children to automatically say they are bad when it is the choices they make that are bad. I have to be careful how I phrase things though. In the past, when he would yell, hit or insult me, I would tell him that it was wrong, but then after he apologized tell him I love him. He would say the same. He told the school psychologist that I love him no matter what he does so he could insult me. Sigh. We have been working ever since then on teaching him saying something like that is not acceptable. I think he is finally getting it. There are some days that are easier than others. He is also funny at other times. My budding teenager responds to everything I say with a  “Uh cool.” And the other day it was funny but I still had to correct him as it was highly inappropriate. He told me the teacher was sick. He told me he missed her but was happy in a way she was sick as he got no homework. So typical, yet so not. This is autism. This is Michael. I would not have him any other way. I just want to help him learn to relax, find himself, and see that even if the world is not always going his way, it is not a bad place. He is a great kid, and I see his potential more and more each day. Even those days I can’t wait for bedtime when it is quiet and I can devise new ways of reaching him tomorrow.

Exceptional Parents, how was your child’s first week back from holidays? What were the highs and lows? I’m sure the return to routine was good, but I’m sure it will still take time for them to settle in. Be patient. Be firm. Be loving. And remember, take care of you. Only when you are gentle and loving with yourself, can you be gentle and loving with them. Until next time.

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Plan For A Calm And Peaceful Holiday With Your Exceptional Child

It’s here. The last day of school before Christmas Eve. I am filled with excitement and fear, as I always am at this time of year. I feel excitement for obvious reasons; seeing family, catching up, eating great food, opening presents. Fear is something only other families of exceptional children will understand. It’s the fear of the new routine, and how it will affect Michael and our family. It is the fear of increased tantrums and meltdowns, Michael’s and ours, as we try to make the holiday a peaceful and happy one for the most part. My expectations for Michael are different than when he was a baby. My own expectations about the holiday are different too as are Dad’s. We just want peace. Not perfection. We just want to make it through the day without battles, crying and feeling overwhelmed. We know this is hard. Someone with autism has challenges in a regular routine in our crazy world. Throw in a holiday that lasts two weeks without the same structure and well, you need to expect some chaos. It’s how you manage the chaos as a parent. I can never get used to the fact that the happiest times of the year for other people are the hardest ones for families whose children have exceptional challenges.

Dad and I have had our good days managing our emotions around Michael’s behaviors and our bad days. This week has been a mix of both. It is with caution this year that we are embarking on Christmas. We spoke earlier this morning about what has to change in our household, with Michael, and with how we individually handle our own emotions. The time of year is difficult too with the shorter darker days.  All I know is what I don’t want to do. I love my child, but the last month it has been hard to like him. There I said it. Dad feels this way too. When he tests and fights us on everything it is draining and frustrating. I count down the minutes till bedtime when I can have an hour or two of peace and pray for strength to be there for him in the morning. It is not how I want to go into Christmas, but there you have it. I know Michael has entered puberty and is trying out new things. He’s seeing how far he can push. As parents, we need to remain strong, united. Most of the time we are , but we are only human and have our moments when we fail Michael and ourselves. We get up, dust ourselves off, and start again.

Exceptional Parents, what are you planning to do to have a calm and peaceful holiday? Are you visiting relatives or staying in? Are they coming to you? Remember, whatever you decide to do, make sure it will bring you and your family peace overall. You need to think of the whole picture of the holiday and what will make your child, and other children as well as you and your partner, happy and content. There are no perfect families and holiday scenarios even in neuro typical families. Don’t strive for that. Strive instead to be true to yourself and your family, and do what will give everyone happiness and health and balance. Happy Holidays! Until next time.

Joanne Giacomini is a writer, speaker and parent coach at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance” www.exceptionalparenting.net. She also blogs on her personal blog, “Exceptional Mom/Exceptional Child” at www.exceptionalmomchild. com,  about how her son with autism is raising her! She writes regularly about parenting and autism at “M List,” as “Montreal Autism Mom”, “The West Island Suburban’s “Parenting 101 bloggers,” and “Huff Post Parents Canada”. Her posts on parenting and autism have been featured on “BlogHer Family-Special Needs”, ”Her View From Home”,  “Romper”, “Yummy Mummy Club Canada, as well as “Scary Mommy.” She also writes for “The Things”,“Baby Gaga” and “The Talko.”You can follow Joanne on Twitter @exceptmomchild.

One of the hardest and most stressful times of the year for special needs families is fast approaching. Are you and your exceptional family ready? Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS

Ready, Set, Go-How to Teach Your Exceptional Child to Accept the Consequences of Their Actions

I am proud of Michael for so many things. He is becoming increasingly independent in dressing, eating and deciding on his likes/dislikes. His navigation skills are getting better. He is learning how to behave in stores and how money works. And at school he is reading and writing beautifully. But it is on afternoons and evenings like this when he is overstimulated, unable to regulate himself that he struggles so intensely. This time of year is always hard on him too. I feel for him, but yet I know he knows better and could do better. He says he loves no homework, but the lack of structure makes it difficult for him. He has nothing to do after school. Couple that in with a fun day today of the Santa Breakfast where he had too much food, then did not like the park he went sledding to, as well as feeling tired and boom, he had his first meltdown right after school. His challenging behavior goes from hitting us, to hitting property, to hitting his head. Then he will swear, the “f” words, the “s” word. It is continuous. It is done to drive us crazy and see how far he can push.

He has openly and happily said that at home he doesn’t have anything to lose. I corrected him on that by telling him not so. We may not have a behavior tech on staff, but if he loses all his tokens and continues, he will lose his reward and if he continues after that, he will lose his fun bedtime routine. Dad and I remaining calm, but it is difficult when he is yelling and asking us to repeat ourselves and trying to control every move we make, by following us and yelling and crying. He is fighting for himself, and the negotiating he is doing make me see the future lawyer in him. Still all jokes aside, the energy he is wasting could be put to better use, calming himself down and asking for help. Finding the right formula for the right time of year is the hard part.

Teaching our kids to de-stress and feel their anxiety before it blows out of proportion is the challenging part. It is particularly challenging when techniques that used to work don’t work anymore. I make Michael part of the solution process, though so far we have only had minimal success. I am trying to get him to be more in touch with his body, with what is happening inside before he volcanoes and I can’t stop him from hitting me, himself or property. It is not a tantrum, not a meltdown, but a little bit of both. He is enraged and I stay nearby to make sure he doesn’t do serious damage, but yet can’t touch him. That is another problem. He is on the cusp of puberty, so he is restricting my hugs and kisses, unless on his terms. It is understandable, but makes for a further stress in helping him. As with all anxiety and anger management issues, it requires lots of trial and error till as a parent you find what works for your child. We have our ups and downs, and then find our middle ground.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle the challenges of behavior in your child? What methods have worked for you? What have not? The important thing is to never give up trying to reach your child. If you make a mistake, admit it to yourself and them. But also, have them own up to their mistakes. If a child cannot take responsibility for their actions, you will not be able to reach them no matter what you do. And take heart. We all make mistakes. Tomorrow is another day. Until next time.

am a writer and parent coach at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance.” I am passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparenting.net

One of the hardest and most stressful times of the year for special needs families is fast approaching. Are you and your exceptional family ready? Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS

What I Learned From Having An Exceptional Mommy Meltdown

About a week ago in the late afternoon, Michael and I  got into a very heated argument about Michael not accepting something I told him couldn’t happen that afternoon. I knew it when he got off the bus that something was wrong and we would be in for a rough ride. I tried to stay calm. Really I did, but due to feeling tired and stressed myself, I instead joined in Michael’s anger. He had been having more and more of these aggressive outbursts as is usually the case at this time of year. The next thing I knew he did something he’d never done before. He slapped me on the side of my head so hard my glasses went flying off and crashing to the floor. For a split second I stared in shock at the floor where my glasses lay, then quickly picked them up. In a voice trembling with rage and an anger, I uttered that there is no hitting. He tried to hit me again and I stopped his hand, and then roughly pushed him into the couch directly behind him. We were in our living room. Now he was scared. So was I. I was holding tight to his arms and repeating in an angry voice no hitting. That’s when Michael started to yell I was hurting him. I immediately released his arms and told him I needed to go calm down in my room.

The other reason I went to my room to calm down was that I could not stop the angry thoughts going through my head and the rage and hurt that he had attacked me. The tears came almost instantly minutes after I was alone, and then they went on for over thirty minutes. Even after that though, they did not dissolve the anger. Why had I lost it? Where had  I gone wrong? How had it escalated so quickly? I couldn’t even remember how the fight had started. So what did I learn from my Mommy Meltdown that afternoon? I learned to be honest with myself with where I was. I learned to check in with myself when I’ve neglected de-stressing things like exercise and not getting enough sleep. Like a lot of children with autism, regulating his emotions is one of Michael’s greatest difficulties. But a rested, refreshed me would have known to stay apart from the storm and not take it personally. Yesterday morning after another tantrum that escalated, I helped Michael calm his storm. It took time, but was over with faster than last week’s. It was not easy, but what helped is, you guessed it, I stayed calm. I was feeling rested too, as I had slept well the night before. We even talked about strategies he needs to start using. He left on the school bus with his usual kiss on the cheek and I love you from me and one back to me.

Exceptional Parents, are you angry and ashamed to admit when you lose it with your children by yelling and joining their anger? Don’t be. All of us have been there as parents. Just remember you need to take care of yourself so that you can weather any exceptional parenting storm that comes your way, and show your child how to handle themselves too. And you know what, if you fail, you and your child can discuss strategies for managing stress together. Until next time.

am a  writer, speaker, and parent coach at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance, http://www.exceptionalparenting.net. I  am passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism. I help guide them with the right tools for their children’s challenging behaviors, as well as help them see the beauty in their children again.  Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and GooglePlus. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation Session with me, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparenting.net. 

One of the hardest and most stressful times of the year for special needs families is fast approaching. Are you and your exceptional family ready? Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS

 

 

 

New Bathrooms, New Ways of Adjusting And Dealing with Change Autism Style

 

http://mrg.bz/e860a3

So we have started renovating our main bathroom, a huge task long in coming. As I’ve told friends it is exciting and terrifying all the same. It is a great step for us to be taking, but a big step, a huge one. I am someone that has always disliked change, but am starting to rally myself to changing and throwing things up in the air. How else do I expect Michael to learn to navigate change? As I predicted this morning when the workers arrived at 7:00 am, in preparation my little budding teenager who normally has a hard time rising for school at 7:30 am was up and at ’em at 5:30 am! Yep. There pretty much went my meditation, yoga and workout. And yes, he was silly and cute at first when the workers arrived. He tried to show them “Buddy the Elf” who is visiting our house for the Christmas season (creepy little guy, but that is another blog post), and then resorted to trying to “help” the men do the removal of the old structures in the bathroom. Oh boy. Let’s just say that it was one of those mornings that I wished I could add something like Bailey’s to my coffee.

Suffice it to say, I was calm, firm, and we established a routine of tea and talking until it was mercifully time to go out and wait for the bus. Never had two hours passed so slowly before! When he came home, Michael was quite excited to see the demolition job and to ask questions about what was coming in the following weeks. We are looking forward to wrapping this up before Christmas with a big red bow. He was understandably nervous about the men coming to our house, what the bathroom would look like, but was super excited when he found out he could use the bathtub again when all of this was done. For the last year and a half he’s been relegated to boring showers in our en-suite shower stall! I was proud of how he is trying to come to terms with change, navigating his way through difficulties, all the while having issues with blocking out negative behavior around him, testing his boundaries with us, and learning to control himself when his temper flares. We seem to be back on track after a very rough few days last week, and there will be more changes coming in the new year in our life and possibly in Michael’s.

http://mrg.bz/b471eb

I am learning how to take it one day at a time, stay positive and count our blessings, and just in general not be afraid to lose faith in dreams coming true, all dreams.This is hard when times are tough emotionally, financially, and in marital relationships, but it is do-able. Dad and I are always honest with Michael that we too get scared, make mistakes, have regrets. All we could do though, is to wipe the sleight clean and move forward positively.

Exceptional Parents, how does change affect you and your Exceptional Children? Is is super hard for them or are they less rigid? What about for you? The trick to breaking down rigidity and fear is to learn to make small sustainable changes over time. Don’t make excuses if you mess up. Own it and move on. But, be gentle with yourself. We’ve all had moments we regret. Learn that you can grow from those moments into something bigger and better and so can your child. Until next time.

I am a passionate writer and parent coach at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance.” I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising  their exceptional children  with autism. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter , LinkedIn, Instagram and GoogelePlus. For more information on my parent coaching programs and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparenting.net. 

One of the hardest and most stressful times of the year for special needs families is fast approaching. Are you and your exceptional family ready? Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS.