There have been a lot of inconsistencies with Michael lately, but I think a dear friend of mine was right when she speculated my nine and a half year old son may be going through puberty or at least the beginnings of it. Why do I suspect this? He is seeking me out on his terms for hugs and time and talking, but is holding back in other ways. It’s hard to tell though, as Dad and I are also having trouble with him listening and testing limits more at home. He is sensing our very different parenting styles, which we have to be careful of. Dad and I are realizing that it’s alright to parent a little differently, as long as your child knows that both parents have the same rules. His school team has been very helpful in making some suggestions to us along these same lines, and we may consult further professionals for tips in supporting Michael and ourselves as best as possible.
I have also become concerned that he is not telling me what is happening at school or revealing only a little. This has been hard to get used to, but started only about a week or two ago. I’m not sure what has changed. Perhaps he resents all of us talking about him and thinking we are up against him. I disclose to him that I am talking to the staff at his school in order to help him and us learn techniques to better listen and get along with one another. Maybe he wants his space. When he gets aggressive and challenging, it is so hard to be truly present and patient, but I am learning. I have learned much in the last few years about parenting with patience, and acknowledging where I need work or improvement. Don’t we all, neuro typical or exceptional. We all have things to improve upon. Michael shows me daily how to be more patient and understanding towards him and myself.
Exceptional Parents, how do you treat changes in your Exceptional Children? Do you worry or embrace them, or do a mixture of both? It’s important to not let worry overcome your better judgement, but at the same time have your detective hat on and follow any trail that seems suspicious. Remember, most of the time, it is just your child entering a new stage of development. Testing, challenging, retreating, coming back. Your child will do all these things. It’s important as their parent to stay close by, and let them know you care and are there to listen and support them always. Until next time.
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The other day we went out for a Father’s Day brunch at one of our local shopping mall restaurants. Most of the parishioners from our church go for breakfast there after the 9:00 am mass we all attend. Michael loves this mall. There is a Bulk Barn there, a Dollarama and many other beautiful little stores that he loves to look at when we go on the weekends. So there we were, treating Dad to a Father’s Dad brunch out when we were joined by some lovely people from our church. What ensued, besides delicious food, were great conversations between Michael and these parishioners that he has gotten to know over nine years ago since he started attending mass with us. I have often said that we are blessed with many ‘second’ families in our community. Other than a community organization for special needs families, Michael’s school, our other second family is our church. They embraced me as a new parishioner, my husband and then our son before and after his autism diagnosis. They are open, accepting, loving and welcoming in all they do, and, not surprisingly, I have learned there are other special needs families in the parish who feel the same way. We are blessed to have found them as is Michael.
Watching Michael grow in the way he interacts with the other parishioners he knows from catechism (and those he does not), is endearing. I love how he is open, talkative and excited to share his life with them. One of the catechism teachers who sat with us knows him well. She began showing him pictures of where she went on vacation, her grandchildren and other such details which she knew would interest him. She also told him where she lived, (prompted by Michael, asking of course). I know what he will be mapping out in the next few days and where. 🙂 I feel so privileged for our family, that we are excepted and embraced by such a wonderful community. And I know that they are all impressed with Michael. They have known him since babyhood, and have seen the amazing changes, the growth that has taken place. And when we had to briefly step away from church they understood. This church, like Michael, brought me back to myself, to who I am inside. I will be forever thankful for the transformation of this community accepting us as our special needs community does.
Exceptional Parents, do you and your Exceptional Children have your community? Whatever community and wherever it is, make sure you and your child feel comfortable being yourselves, being true to who you are, and that you can feel like you can contribute something to them in return. Michael looks forward to doing his catechism, I look forward to helping out in future in the church now that he is older, and Dad, well, he is so touched to be loved and embraced by this community as he is by our special needs community. Good luck, and remember, don’t be afraid to reach out to people. Until next time.