Tag: maturity

Learning From One Another By Building Bridges

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Today is my monthly Coffee Break group at the local community center. I have pretty much been attending these meetings for the past six years quite regularly. I’ve missed a few due to work or other family reasons, but they are important to me. Seeing the other Moms who have become some of my closest friends discuss their struggles and triumphs with their children and themselves, is always so eye-opening. It is my constant reminder to myself how important connections are, to ourselves, to our children and to others.

Michael is starting to get out more in the community now. He loves engaging with people of all ages, and as I’ve written many times, has gotten his Dad and I out of our shells socially too. Of course, we have to redirect him away from his own interests and show him how to talk to others, and he is slowly learning about feelings and emotions outside his own. He will surprise me sometimes with his compassion. Yesterday he accidentally stepped on my toe. When I said ouch, he immediately apologized and looked so sad. “I’m sorry I hurt you Mommy.” It touched me to see how deeply he is learning to care. Of course, I knew it was an accident and thanked him for caring then told him I was alright. On the other hand, there will be times, and it is almost funny, that he doesn’t get his way, and he will say, “I don’t like you. You’re not a good Mom. I like Daddy more.” He will inevitably say the same thing to Dad when he is upset with Dad. We’re learning. ūüôā

 

 

 

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I am also learning how to reach out to others, other Moms, other children, other friends outside of my support group. We are all in this life together, and we need to remember to uplift one another on our journey. Everyone has a purpose, and I believe that we all have a responsibility to help others in the world find their purpose. They also have that responsibility to us. Those that are enlightened, helping others and living their life purpose already do that naturally. Think of nurturing parents, health care providers, volunteers. All of these people give of themselves to uplift others. I know that Michael, and exceptional children like him, are here to remind all of us to do that to everyone in our life as they do that to us.

Exceptional Parents, do you connect with people around you in your family, friendship circle, work, support group? It’s so important to remember you are not alone and by reaching out you remind others that they are not alone. Parenting an exceptional child is hard work for us and it is hard for them to be parented by us. Take care of yourselves and those around you by sharing, listening and helping build connections and bridges. Until next time.

 

Feeling stressed about fall and back to school? You are not alone. Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO MANAGE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” here: http://www.exceptionalparenting.site88.net.¬†

 

Beaches, Waterparks and Picnics: Final Stay Cation Unwinding as A Family

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So this weekend we are planning the last of our family staycation trips as it is, well, the end of our family vacation. I have been working in between and Dad has been running errands, but for the most part, it has been family or Mommy/Daddy time with Michael.¬†¬†The beach should be fun as it always is. We eat out in the sunshine, frolic in the water (ok it’s more of me chasing Michael down the beach or in the water and beach), and then we head home. This year he has his last soccer game and an awards and dinner party in the evening as well. It will be a long fun day to be sure and one I know we will all enjoy. We are also planning a trip to a local zoo and splash park as well as a family picnic in a beautiful area close to our home. Michael loves being outside in nature and enjoying the simple things. This gets easier as he gets older.

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What I love is how we can do more of these things now as a family that he is older and Dad and I worry less than we used to. We need to structure as much as we can and go over strategies so Michael does not get overwhelmed, but he understands what is expected, has a higher tolerance for staying somewhere longer than before, and is surprisingly easy with changes like moving an outing to a day when it is not raining. A couple of years ago there would have been meltdowns and screaming. Now, he is calm and handles it beautifully.

We are trying to get him involved in picking more active things to do as a family, sports, walking and it is paying off. Michael and I have gone for some long walks, bike rides, and Dad has taken him to a few parks. We are all slowly winding down to the end of the week when routine and structure will slowly be put back into place to our relief, and though Michael is complaining about school, it will help him as well.

Exceptional Parents, what plans do you have for the last weekend before back to school? Are your kids excited about school? Are you? As long as you have been discussing the transitions and preparing them as best you can, you will not go wrong. On the other hand, some kids will do better with a little less prep. It will mean less to worry about. You know your child. You know yourself. Trust in what works for your Exceptional Family. Until next time.

 

Feeling stressed about fall and back to school? You are not alone. Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO MANAGE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” here: http://www.exceptionalparenting.site88.net.¬†

How Michael And I Challenge Each Other

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I have tried this summer to give Michael more challenges.¬† This has usually worked out beautifully, but at other times it has backfired on me. Michael has had to remind me that I don’t understand or that he can’t do it. Sometimes he has been right, other times, with gentle encouragement, I have showed him that he is wrong and can do it. But I am beginning to see the advantages of pushing him a little bit and what I expect of him, as long as he has ways of handling his stress.

Emotions continue¬†to be the difficult thing for him to handle, especially¬†when he gets overwhelmed and frustrated. I am constantly talking with and reminding him when he is calm about using his strategies when upset to handle his emotions, but lately due to the time of year and increasing anxiety about school, he will fall back into hitting himself, hitting me, or screaming and swearing or other inappropriate behavior. The good thing is that he is catching himself more quickly¬†after these incidents, calming down and apologizing, but stopping the overreaction is still too difficult for him. It is a process and one I know he will get through as will I using patience and love. ¬†It’s just a matter of him finding something that works for him. Ever since he was a baby, once Michael understood something, he became an expert at it above and beyond.

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Some challenges I have been asking of him are help around the house, waiting to go places or staying home until late morning, a VERY hard thing for my active kid to do, and teaching him how to initiate a conversation and not to interrupt one in progress. This is also hard. He will often interrupt with an “excuse me Mommy.” It’s all coming though, and I see how he is doing his best. The other day Michael gave me a challenge. He wanted to go for a long bike ride. The route sounded far too long for him to bike, but I decided we would do it as he wanted to try it. I left my bike at home in case he would need some help from me in giving him a push or two. I really did not expect to get farther than another five minutes of¬†our usual route of about thirty minutes. He has not been bike riding consistently this summer, so I figured he would be tired. He actually did the equivalent of an hour and a half! And yes, he was flying down the bike path on a busy stretch near our house. I was the crazy happy Mom jogging along side him marveling how, once again, I had been proved wrong. I was so happy about it!

Michael has always surprised me like this, even though I now know that he is full of wonderful abilities and is wiser than me in some ways. He later confessed he didn’t know if he could do it, but “I pushed through Mommy and forced myself.” He was smiling as he said it. I corrected him by saying he did not force himself, but he pushed and tried so hard he succeeded! I was so proud of him. On the way back home, he said he couldn’t do it, but I told him in a firm voice I couldn’t push the bike home he had to. And so he did. Michael¬†reminded me how important it is to never give up on ourselves.

Exceptional Parents, what challenges do you give your Exceptional Children? What challenges are you maybe afraid to try? Remember, our kids will only be brave if we show them that we believe in them. As parents, our job is two fold: reminding them of what they can do, and reminding ourselves of what they can do. Then, we can show others, teachers, therapists and professionals the amazing things our children are capable of doing. Until next time.

 

Annual BBQ’s and Exceptional Traditions

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I love traditions. I love the way they mark time, passages, and growth. I also love the way traditions bring family and friends together. Michael’s Dad and I started a tradition a long time ago with close friends where we all get together once a year at our house for a BBQ lunch or dinner. It has shifted back and forth, but now it is back to a dinner so friends of mine who have smaller children don’t have to worry about their kids missing their nap, and my other friends with older children and activity commitments can still make it. Still, the friends of mine who don’t have children also have the opportunity of squeezing our dinner into their busy schedules. As a result, we’ve pretty much had everybody make it every ¬†year for the past eighteen years that we’ve been doing it. These are friends I grew up with. We knew each other as girls, then women, then husbands and now children are in the mix. It’s absolutely wonderful.

For Michael, he is also learning about how important friendships are, and about the building of traditions to keep friendships going and moving smoothly into changes that occur in life. These friends are his aunties and uncles so to speak, and he gets along well with their kids. It’s always a fun way for us to end our summer with this BBQ. Now that Michael is older, he actively helps us prepare by buying the food, and tidying up a bit. Alright, he cleans his room, but still it is a start. ūüôā I am so proud of how far he has come from being overwhelmed by people, to looking forward to a party, even though there are challenging moments for him.

Exceptional Parents, do you have any summer time traditions that you participate in with your Exceptional Child? How do they respond? How do you respond? Remember, give them time to grow to love these traditions and soon they will begin to change their response to them. It also gives you a chance as a family to grow together, try new things, and form new memories. Until next time.

 

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.

 

How Dry Erase Boards Can Help End Of School Anxiety

 

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We are in the final few days of a very difficult transition time for kids: the end of school. Michael is no different. Exceptional Kids only handle the transition into the unknown with a little more of a twist than their neuro typical peers. Some of the ways Michael is handling it is very impressive. He has expressed his fears and anxieties to me by telling me that he is happy school is ending, but will miss his friends. He also has asked if he could set up the next week’s schedule on our dry erase board, a wonderful tool I was told about last year by our Psycho Educator to help Michael handle the changes that come with summer. The fact that he brought it up to me, was a huge milestone. I’m very proud of how he is starting to handle his anxieties. So yesterday afternoon, away we went on the dry erase board structuring his first week of summer vacation which starts on Thursday, June 23rd.

 

Of course there have been some pitfalls along the way. He has started more intense negotiations for things we have said no to, swearing has increased, and he has been a little more short tempered or emotional. This is all normal for all exceptional children, and as parents, we need to give them time to settle into a new routine. ¬†Monday was a prime example of Michael acting out. After school I had taken Michael to a splash park. It’s a small one and I warned him he may be bored, but he insisted he wanted to go there. Well, guess what. He was bored with me and complained that he was not having a good time. Then he started to cry looking at all the other kids playing while he was alone. They were babies and toddlers with their siblings. I explained again about it being for a younger age group, but then realized he needed to let the emotions out by crying. He later told me he was crying because he did not try to enjoy himself when he was there and make the best of it. I was impressed again how he is picking up on these things. I shared with him a time recently when I did something similar, and had regrets. Live and learn.

 

Exceptional Parents, what tools do you use with your Exceptional Children to ease the transition from end of school to summer? Do you let your children pick the tools or is it easier for them when you do the picking? Again, like with every thing else, it is important to find what works for your child/dren, but I would say a balance of them having choice and you suggesting things is probably the best balance between the two. Remember, as a parent you need to give them more space and be more tolerant of challenging behaviors at this time of year, and they need to vent and also learn how to self-regulate too. If the two of you meet halfway, you are doing amazing. Until next time.

The Healing Art of Mapping and Music

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Over the course of the last few weeks, I have seen a progressive change in Michael. He has become calmer, more focused, and more sensitive. He has his routine after school: snack, homework, then swinging in his basement swing while listening to music. After that, he goes on his Google Maps and navigate the city and then, under mine or his Dad’s watchful eye, he can look at some pop videos, usually just “lyrics only” as some of the content is questionable material for someone his age.

I think this routine works for him and gives me a chance to finish off some late day chores in the house. But mostly, I see that he is becoming more talkative. We talk about the music videos, what the songs mean, and he asks a lot of questions about where things are located, what streets, cross streets etc. This is Michael’s way of making sense of the world, and I am so glad he is finding his way. I and his Dad repeatedly tell him that his strengths lie in music and navigation. I also hear him singing the songs from the radio to himself or sometimes asking me if he forgets a tittle what the song is called. Usually though, is it Michael who tells me the name of the song. I have been wowed more than once when he has informed me which pop star sings which song.

 

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¬†I used to worry so much when I saw how he wasn’t moving on from Barney. Now he is the one educating me on modern music! It’s very exciting to say the least. But most of all, what Michael has shown me, and continues to show me, is that anything is possible with time, with an open mind, and with a routine and order, a mind that was always anxious or stressed or stuck, can become unstuck. Yes, he will always struggle with anxiety and other issues, but he is learning to handle himself through these emotions. Other things will come with time.

Exceptional Parents, what have your Exceptional Children learned to do that have wowed you? What things did you not see coming and are so impressed that they mastered? Remember, our children’s ways of processing the world are different than ours. Their views are filtered through their own unique lens. Give them time to discover their talents, their strengths, and be there in the background to encourage them, as always. When they know they have you as a cheerleader, they will feel they can do anything. We all need that cheerleader in our lives. Until next time.

Exceptional Bromance and Growing Up

 

Michael has a friend that has truly become special to him. They are more like brothers than friends. Some people have even told me they look alike. It’s not that surprising as they are both from a similar background. I have referred to this friend at first as Michael’s BFF, but then started calling him Michael’s soul brother, for I feel that is what he is. They think alike in many ways, have a lot of the same interests, yet even if one of them is into doing something different, the other one will switch activities to make his buddy happy. It’s been beautiful to see as Michael is maturing in understanding people’s general emotions around him, he is learning how to be an excellent friend to his buddy. And he loves this buddy.

Yesterday morning there were some behavioral issues going on, and after he finally calmed down enough to apologize for his behavior towards me, I told him he could gain back a play date with his soul brother in the pm after showing me he could listen all morning. And listen he did, beautifully. He even pointed out to me when I was becoming agitated and gently reminded me to calm my thoughts and speak in my “happy voice.” The kid is nothing if not astute, and a quick learner, I have seen. Of course he gained back the play date, had a wonderful afternoon with his friend and I with the Mom, and we even went to the park afterwards. He got to burn off even more energy and some of that spring fever!

Exceptional Parents, do your Exceptional Children have soul brothers or sisters among their friends? Are they blessed to connect with another person their age so closely? If not, don’t despair. They will find that individual in time. What I have found works is to encourage any friendships where there are common interests, laughter and similar temperaments. Often teachers can give you a good idea about the kids in your child’s class that they have a good connection to. Be gentle, encourage them to explore, and in time your child will find their soul mate in a friend. It opens up the world for them socially and intellectually, and teaches them to be the best people they can be. Michael is a wonderfully compassionate little boy who has made many friends thanks to an adapted school where he is among peers who are all exceptional in some way. And all of his friends have enhanced the goodness already in him, the kindness, the humor, the curiosity, and have opened up both his, his father’s and my world for the better. I wish the same for you and your Exceptional Child. Until next time.