Tag: autism parenting

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 Get Back Into Routine With Your Exceptional Child

Well, for most of us today is the day kids are back in school and some parents are back at work. It is a happy day for some, not for others. You know your ages. 🙂 But all jokes aside, it is a struggle for a lot of families to get back into routine. All people, with and without children have a hard time getting back into the swing of things after vacation, but with kids you have the extra thing of getting them organized and ready for school. We all know what does not work for us or our kids, but what are some of the true and tested things that do work? This is tricky. With Exceptional Children, a lot of the traditional stuff the rest of us use may not work or even make things worse. In our house we’ve used a combination of a few things, and every year Michael tries different strategies himself, good and bad, in preparation for the first day back.

  1. Get a good night’s sleep the night before: This is a no-brainer for all us, but something many forget. If you are tired the first day back, things will be harder. The best scenario is to make sure your child and you get a good night’s rest. If that can’t be managed, if parents are rested at least they will have more patience to help their child.
  2. Remind your child about seeing his/her friends if that is incentive or some other thing they like at school: For some Exceptional Children, seeing their friends is great incentive, especially if they have not had a chance to see them over the holidays. For others, maybe they like the bus ride or some other subject at school or recess.
  3. All kids are feeling the same as them: This is a tricky one due to theory of mind, but I’ve found as Michael has gotten older he will appreciate hearing how he is not alone in stress about “back to school.”
  4. Remind them of future PED DAYS/Spring Break or give immediate rewards for a good first day back: Again, teaching them to look forward to something works too if they are able to understand this concept. For those who can’t do this yet, the promise of a favorite activity, treat, or other special reward can go a long way to helping motivation and a positive attitude.
  5. Give them (and yourself) time to adjust: The first week back for everyone will have its challenges. Go in knowing that. Try to keep your sense of humor as a parent. Give yourself little rewards at the the end of the day for making it through- a bath, reading a chapter from a favorite book, watching a favorite show etc.

Exceptional Parents, what are some tried and true methods that have worked to make back to school work for you and your family? Remember, as long as rest, patience and love are involved in some form you can’t go wrong. You will find the right formula and adjust it to your family and household. Go easy on yourself too when you make mistakes. You are only human after all. Happy first week back! Until next time.

Gratitude and Sharing In The Community- Teaching My Exceptional Son About Love and Faith


It’s been a difficult journey, trying to teach Michael about things that are not concrete, things like spirituality. But never has Michael needed it more than now, when he is struggling with finding his own voice, power, and feeling like he has control making decisions. I can see that he is on the cusp of puberty, and has been there for quite a while. He has been questioning many things his Dad and I have said for awhile now, but when he started questioning his spirituality and religion, I knew he had come into a new realm in his development. It makes me sad that we can’t pray together like we used to, and that he is not taking what I am teaching at face value anymore. Yet, I have to say I am proud of him for asking questions, for challenging me. It is exhausting sometimes, particularly when the big questions calmly asked are interspersed with days when everything I tell him to to do is questioned and results in exchanging words. However, this shows me how he is maturing and becoming his own person. He also patiently listens and watches what I do. I see his maturity.

We have yet to put his rosary in the car. He asked me this a few weeks ago, so that he could see God there.  I admit I keep forgetting to do it. Tomorrow I will bring it up and offer to let him put his up next to mine. He will also once in awhile ask questions about God, about prayer and about the state of the world we live in. He asks about homelessness, people struggling in poverty. I do my best to answer honestly trying not to trigger more anxiety. He lives and breathes enough of that everyday.  I am happy to answer these questions, but he does not want to pray with me. Still, I take it as a promising sign that he is being open minded when I pray out loud and he does not get angry like he used to in the fall.  He is seeing so much turmoil with some of his closest friends now and trying some of this out at home. He is re-enacting some strange games. He rolls his eyes when I put on Christmas music. He is a mini teenage, I think. Still there are great amazing days when I see how his intelligent mind works. These days help me through the emotionally difficult ones where he and I struggle to understand one another through the maze of autism and anxiety.

Exceptional Parents, how are your children handling the lead up to the holidays? Is this a difficult time of the year for them and you? For many families it is due to the structure going down and uncertainty about what is coming. Do your best to be there for your child, listen to them, be clear in your expectations, and let them observe you taking a positive and proactive view in practicing what you believe, physical or spiritual. Until next time.


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


How My Exceptional Son Sees Spirituality, Life, and The World

Wow! What a weekend on many levels. First of all, I started a wicked sinus cold on Thursday which sort of came to a head on Saturday, but I didn’t let it stop me from doing the clean up in my house. I had plans of grocery shopping, cleaning out my home office (LONG overdue), and laundry.  In spite of maxing up on Tylenol Cold Medicine, it was a productive weekend. It was also an amazing weekend with Michael as far as long talks, questions, and bonding went. He had some issues with Dad and was particularly sensory on both days (weather getting colder), but they managed in the end. The amazing discussions with me were about life and spirituality. After another tough few weeks of managing behaviors, it was a welcome break.

He surprised me by being up super early on Saturday, which does occasionally happen but has not in awhile. I’d had my coffee and my lemon water and was about to start my meditation when I heard his door open down the hall. I was greeted with a big smile and a good morning. I asked him if he was ready for breakfast soon and he surprised me with a yes, then told me he would go to stim and listen to the radio (basically rocking on our couch as he listens to his favorite pop music station) while I made his pancakes.  He went to the washroom, but when he came back, instead of heading into the living room, he came back to the kitchen, and sat down in one of the chairs and began to talk to me while I worked.

He began to talked about how happy he was the house was getting cleaned up and we were renovating our bathroom. He also asked about money as he’d overheard a bill discussion Dad and I had had. This was the perfect lead in for me to gently bring up that a good way for me to have more time to make money, would be to have more work time availability open to me if he went to an after-school program a few days a week. The bus would bring him there and I would pick him up a little later.  I prepared myself for anger or crying, but Michael surprised me by being interested to try. I had been thinking about an after-school program for Michael for a few months already. He always needed to go places. We had this beautiful mature discussion about work, money, how families could share chores and make the most of their time together on the weekend. I was so proud of his maturity.

The next surprise came Sunday evening at dinner. We were all eating when Michael randomly asked his father if he believed in God and prayed.  Michael does not like to talk about God and religion, and even went through a phase where he was being negative just to spite me. Dad answered that yes he believes in God, but he leaves the praying to me for everyone. Then Michael answered that he does not believe in God or in going to church. I took a chance and calmly corrected him telling him that I know church is hard for him as he is bored, but that I know he believes in God. He looked surprised. I reminded Michael how he asked me to put his rosary in the car next to mine so he would feel God there. I also reminded him how he admitted he sometimes prayed to God and that God is everywhere.

“Is God here right now Mommy listening to us talk?”

“Yes, Michael. God is always here and listening. He is always there for you.”

“I keep my rosary by my bed Mommy so I know God is there. I don’t feel alone.”

It warmed my heart as I know praying has given him so much comfort since he was little. I am happy to see his beliefs coming back. Once again, he amazed me with his maturity and the discussion we had.

Exceptional Parents, what eye opening moments have you had with your Exceptional Children? I’ll bet each day there are many times that they take your breath away with their take on life, and their wise beyond their years answers. Hold on to these moments. They are the ones your child needs to remember to move forward in growth, love, and security and you along with them. 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. You can 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, 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