Tag: handling anxiety

Teaching And Learning Life Skills-What My Exceptional Child Is Teaching Me

Sometimes there is a day when I see it all coming together and I worry less, especially lately. Yesterday, was such a day. Michael did so well. There were changes in our plans in the am. With some advance warning and options, he had a fun morning at home while I worked, and in the afternoon we adjusted the schedule slightly too. He wanted to go to some stores to buy a toy for a friend and to spend some of his holiday money on some stuff for himself. I especially liked that he was spending some of the money on a friend. His birthday has kind of gone over the top this year, which has been challenging for everyone. I also was so proud of him for how he handled paying at the cash, counting out his money, as well as understanding the concept of how much things cost. It is coming. Life skills. Independence. When he succeeds, I see his confidence blooming. For a Mom who is seeing just how anxious he is and how much stress he carries around, this is truly a victory.

Between communicating better this week, seeing how good behavior is rewarded and learning to apply basic life skills, I know how not only Michael, but all exceptional children can succeed with the right tools. He also helped me be more patient. In watching him at the stores looking for my guidance and when he made a mistake apologizing, I realized how there had been times recently when for various personal reasons I may not have been as patient and calm as I wished I had been. It’s hard. It’s especially challenging when both parent and child are tired and communication is not clear. This is when the parent, who in theory is usually the calmer one, needs to take a deep breath and get control of a situation that could become stressful. Easier said than done. Yesterday, I was exhausted. But I remembered to stay calm on the outside and inside to set the example for Michael. I remembered how I always tell him to “turn it around” so at moments when my body was crying out for coffee and quiet, I reminded myself, he is watching how you handle yourself if there are challenges. Model calm, quiet, peace and he will learn those things eventually.

Exceptional Parents, how has your Exceptional Child started growing up? This is essentially what I have been seeing with mine. They all grow up in different ways, and help us grow up too; either by guiding them and ourselves better, teaching us more patience, and reminding us that even when our kids drive us crazy we love them to pieces as they do us. They and we are doing the best that we can. Let’s do our best together by encouraging, loving and modeling calm. Until next time.

The Importance of Handling Anger and Exhaustion in Exceptional Families

I can’t believe all that was in there.  This is what I was thinking on New Year’s Eve when all hell broke loose inside me, all the stress of trying to hold it together during the last month of 2016, hold it together while Michael’s behaviors became more challenging, and Dad was busy at work and in the evenings turned in early to bed to keep his sanity. I thought I was doing ok. I was wrong. I had tried my best, but when Michael started to debate about the quality of his birthday presents, the latest bunch he was getting from relatives, I couldn’t keep it together anymore. All week I was defusing defiance, temper tantrums and misunderstandings. I pictured a quiet unassuming New Year’s Eve and instead got a huge fight where I had to completely disconnect. I unfortunately was not done with my anger on New Year’s Day. I woke up with it. I realized I was angry at Michael and at me for not handling my emotions better, not taking better mental care at a time of year that is challenging for all of us. Mostly, I was filled with self-pity, something I hate to give others and try not to, and something I hate to receive.

Feeling better yesterday and slowly coming back to myself, I realized that lots of exceptional people and their families struggle so much at this time of year to try to do  things right, to fit themselves into the holiday. It should be the other way around. They need to find ways to celebrate that are less demanding and stressful on their nervous system. Through various things out of our control, Michael’s 10th birthday was blown a little out of proportion. When he gets overstimulated, he talks and obsesses more about something and gets quite wound up. I mistook this in my own wound-up-ness as him being spoiled and privileged. That is how my parents would have seen it with their neuro typical children. I was wrong. I was also trying so hard to downplay the festivities and was so exhausted by New Year’s Eve, that my patience level was at zero. So Michael’s misunderstandings were misinterpreted by me and my anger exploded. I had so much of it. So much stress and worry from 2016 just kept pouring out. It was the purge to finally reset myself and hopefully, my boys did the same.

After looking back yesterday to learn from my mistakes, I realized something.  I always tell Michael about the importance of letting out his emotions as they come up. Bottling up anger hurts you. I need to remember as a Mom to do the same. I also remembered that people mean well, but that Dad and I need to be on top of things when we see Michael feeling overloaded even in a good way. We can teach him ways to regulate during this time and demonstrate how we do it. Calm is contagious, but so is stress. I am glad we are back to calm in these new days of 2017.

Exceptional Parents, how do you model calm and keep yourself from getting burned out? Yes, it starts with you. Only when you as a parent have it together, can you show your Exceptional Child that they too have a safe place to regulate and reset their own anxiety. Find what works for you, and don’t be afraid to put those methods into place all year around. 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.exceptionalparenting.net.

New Year. New anxiety management strategies may be a good idea. Download my FREE EBOOK “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

Milestone Jump for My Exceptional Son- Articulating Feelings, Fears and Making Sense of The World Outside


So Michael continues to amaze me. I know I say this a lot and it must sound boring to a lot of people. We have our highs and lows like any family, but what I am continuing to see from Michael more and more each day is how well he is able to articulate how he is feeling, what he is upset/confused about, and what makes his angry. The challenge, however, is how to handle these intense feelings. He will still have moments he lashes out physically with hitting and will utter angry swear words. Immediately, he apologizes though. He is beginning to understand the consequences behind his actions learning to do damage control.

At the same time he is learning to push boundaries, to see how far he can aggravate, yell, cry and what will happen. Will I give in? Will his  Dad? Will we still love him? It is funny. As much as he sometimes will openly say, “You’re the better parent” to his father if I upset him and vice versa if Dad upsets him, in the next breath it’s “I’m sorry Mommy. I’m sorry Daddy. Do you forgive me?” Last night I had told him how proud I was of his academic achievements and how well he did at some social events in our community. Michael looked at me almost in shock and said, “Really Mommy? You’re really proud of me?” Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a perfect parent. Heck, I’ve admitted that often enough in print and verbally. But I do my best to hug and tell Michael I love him very much every single day and night. I also tell him I am proud of him and want him to be safe and healthy. Still, like all kids, he needs to hear that reinforcement of the “I love you” many times. I don’t mind. I am so amazed with how far he is going. I am also beginning to understand more and more each day how to help him. He, of course, is guiding me. Most recently he shared something with me:

“Mommy, do you know why I repeat things sometimes, like at bedtime I say, “see you tomorrow morning two times?”

“Why buddy?”

He pauses. “It’s because I want to make sure it happens. If I say it a few times, it will happen.”

Wow. He is able to process and understand how his brain works.And share that with me. Of course. That makes sense. I smile and feel both joy at his realization and pain that he is suffering with worry about this.

“Morning will always come Michael. No matter how many times you say it or not. Day and night will always come. It is outside of our control.”

“Really Mommy?”

“Yes, honey.”

Another incident a few days later he shared with me how he only wants to go to adapted activities where he knows the kids because he hates change. Even if it is adapted and those kids have autism like him and other things similar to mine, he doesn’t know them. Wow again. He is making those connections and bringing me along for the ride in understanding them.

Exceptional Parents, do you see your children connecting the dots emotionally in their inner and outer world? Are they able to let you in to help or meet you halfway? That is the tricky part. Until you are both able to meet at the halfway mark, communication is challenging. Be patient. Play. Interact with them at their level the games that interest them. In time you will find a way in to their world as they will to yours. That is when the next milestone will be achieved. Until next time.

One of the 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


A Milestone Achieved: My Exceptional Son Recognize His Own Fear Triggers

Michael did it to me again. He both shocked and surprised me in one breath, something that is commonplace for my  little boy. He has been struggling for a few months now with identifying what is causing him anxiety and anger, and seeing how the thoughts cause the actions he chooses to take. The other day though, he had a massive breakthrough. It was late Sunday afternoon. He had come back with his Dad from his usual busy day of going to his favorite shopping center, a father/son drive, tennis, and an outing to a fair that had face painting and rock and roll music. To say it was a busier day than normal is an understatement. I heard them come in from my basement office where I was working, and then the rush of excited little feet pounding down the stairs to share with me the adventures of his afternoon with Dad. This time though after quickly giving me the rundown and basic details of his day, the next words out of Michael’s mouth shocked me:

“Mommy, could we go walk around a shopping mall now? I know it’s raining so we can’t do a nature walk.”

He was happy, but I recognized an urgency in this voice I hadn’t sensed before. I quietly told him that it was five o’clock. He’d been out all day, dinner would be soon and he still had homework to do. Then, totally unlike himself he burst into tears:

“But Mommy, I have to go out. I can’t stay home. I don’t want to think about my vaccination on Tuesday morning. I need to be away from home so I don’t think. Please, please Mommy.” And he cried even harder.

Via: Morguefile



Are you as shocked as I was? He actually uttered those words. The vaccination in question was the HEP A/HEP B which is recommended for children in grade four like Michael, and we had talked about him getting it. I knew he was nervous. It was the same thing when he had blood tests and got his chicken pox vaccine, but we had talked about it on Thursday evening as Friday I had to sign the forms and return them to school for processing. I did not know he was still turning around all that stress in his little mind.

“Honey, you’ll have to come home eventually. You can’t stay out forever. I’m proud that you are recognizing your fears and how you cope with it. But we can talk some more .You don’t need to suffer alone. Here are some things you can do.”

And that we did. We went over what would happen, how he would cope and that his classmates and teachers would be there. I am still amazed and proud of how he is starting to connect things. Even when he talks about his “Stimming Lady” telling him what to do, he seems very much in control of where he wants to go and what he wants to do. He likes  reminders about expected behavior and what happens with good vs bad behavior. He is growing up. Another thing I noticed which pleased me. Twice this week unexpected things happened to our after school plans. Michael not only handled it well, but was calm and matter of fact about the change.

Exceptional Parents, how do your Exceptional Children handle change and anxiety? Are they learning to use words or actions to describe how they feel? Do they have strategies to manage it, sensory, verbal or  whatever works for them? The worst thing a parent can do is minimize the stress even if it is something small. Always listen. Always wait for them to finish talking or expressing themselves. Then offer strategies, show pictures or videos of what they could do. Remember, they are little sponges and will pick up what is being said to them over and over, good and bad. You are their role model. Until next time.

Tired of anxiety controlling you and your family? Download my FREE EBOOK ON “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” at: http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS.

Revisiting Self-Esteem And Failure Issues



Yesterday afternoon started out on a great note. Michael came home from school, shared his day, and then was so excited to go to the park and play tennis with me. Yes, I said tennis! He has been taking tennis lessons indoors at a school gym since the fall, and I cannot begin to say how blown away his Dad and I are by his progress. In the last few classes particularly, we have seen him bloom, and though Dad usually takes him alone, the last videos I watched brought tears to my eyes. He was doing back hand, forehand. He went from not being able to connect with the ball to hitting it over the net and playing understanding where to aim his ball. This is huge for this Mom who is always worried about how he would do at sports.

So though I was a little worried about playing outside with the winds and Mom throwing the ball (who is twenty years out of practice of playing tennis, by the way), I agreed to go. Michael went over on his scooter and was so full of confidence and happiness that I was beaming along side him. Then we settled in at the tennis courts up the street from our house. And it happened. He kept trying to hit the ball the way he did in class, but missed many times or would hit backhand not forehand and the ball would go off course. It was windy and I was not sure how to adjust my throwing, half way through I figured that out. No matter. He got discouraged and we ended up leaving with Michael in tears saying he is not a good person and he is not proud of himself.  He didn’t even want to scooter home, he was so upset.



Watching him suffer through this was like looking into a mirror. That was me at his age, though I didn’t always say out loud just how bad I felt about myself.  Of course I repeated to him that he is wonderful and did his best, then when we got home after he finished crying, I hugged him and told him that he needed practice outside more. On our first try, things don’t always go perfectly. This summer the same teacher will be teaching outside tennis and he is eager to take those lessons too. Thank God the experience yesterday did not discourage him from the progress he made and from trying. But watching him suffer was hard as his Mom. I felt so helpless in giving him a pep talk at first, as I remembered my Mom with me. She’d been baffled as to why I had such low self-esteem, and it took years for me, into adulthood, to learn about my worth. It broke my heart to see that Michael takes after me, and I prayed that I could give him the tools to learn about his own worth before adulthood, especially given his more intense anxiety and esteem issues. My Mom did amazing work, but I still had long road to learning to manage my own anxiety.

Exceptional Parents, how do you handle failure in your own life? How do your Exceptional Children handle it? This is tough one, as some failures are easier to bounce back from than others. Still, as with every challenge now, you can choose to see failure and mistakes as a chance to learn something new about yourself, your limits, and beliefs about right and wrong. If you frame it in a question of, “what can I learn from this, or what can I do differently?” your child will learn in time to do the same. Until next time.