Tag: music

Keeping Busy and Learning To Be Calm The Exceptional Way

 

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What is busy? For every Mom of every child with special needs it means a different thing. Every kid with autism is different and has various interests. For Michael, keeping busy means constant motion pretty much all day. It means going places, to parks, pools, friend’s houses, and stores. This is AFTER a full day of camp. This is a challenge for his Dad and I, especially as we get older, but we are learning to structure his activity with time when he is home, and has to keep himself occupied. This is tough for him to do, but he is learning. We also have to find the fine balance between busy and overstimulated. The last two days I crossed the line with Michael, and we had two bad meltdowns and some aggression. The heat doesn’t help, and the fact that Michael is learning that he can’t control everything and everyone around him. It is exhausting and frustrating for all of us.

Still, as with all moments with Michael, there are funny and wonderful moments too. One of these was playing games with Michael in our local pool yesterday afternoon. We were sitting side by side with him in a lawn chair drying off in the sun. Michael said;

“This is nice and relaxing Mommy. I like sitting in the sun. As long as I have sunscreen on it is ok, right?”

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He made me smile. I also thought good, he is learning to relax sometimes. He was finally tired after his busy day of camp, playing in the park, then the pool. He watched some videos after he came home and chilled out. That was nice too. I find that as an Exceptional Parent, each summer, each day really, I am going back to the drawing boardhaving to readjust things so that he is in balance. I find new strategies to help him remain calm, remind him of  his old strategies, and  teach him that it is ok to not always be in control. That is a hard one. I have only recently learned that, and at times, like most adults, still have issues with that one. What I do now, is make sure I am surrounded by family and friends who can understand me and Michael and what we live on a daily basis. I make sure Michael and I have respite from each other on occasion, and that we never go to bed angry with one another. I tell Michael that we all learn from our mistakes, me included. Michael and I both talk about how we need to use strategies to stay calm, and if we don’t, we need to remember to use them the next time we get upset.

Exceptional Parents, how do you juggle the busy and quiet side of your Exceptional child? How do you handle the rough moments during and after they occur? Do you remember to cut yourself some slack and learn from them? Retrace your steps, see what you could do differently next time, and teach your child to do the same. Yes, there will be new battles to face, but you and your child will be able to handle it together as long as you show your child you will never give up on him/her. Until next time.

 

 

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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.

School Concerts and Exceptional Joy Of Music

 

 

This morning Michael and his class will be performing in their school’s annual Spring Concert. I know what he will be wearing and which two songs he will be singing, but other than that, I have not been told any other details. My little guy wants to surprise me and has told me how loud he will be singing for me, his father and his maternal grandparents who will be attending. His teacher is encouraging his amazing singing voice and he is so excited to perform for us in this one of the many performances he has given at his school. I am always blown away by how well the kids do, how much fun it is, and increasingly how much more comfortable Michael is getting with performing. I am usually filming and crying or at the very least emotional seeing my little guy up there doing so well. He is beginning to see that performance is one of his strong suits among others, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.

I remember the feeling I had performing in school plays. It was terrifying and exhilarating at once! I even tried out for a play once, but I was always put in the choir for my singing voice. To this day, music like writing is my solace, my relaxation, my muse, my spirituality. I like many different types of music, both listening to and singing, though I am not opera material as Michael is neither. We used to duet together when he was younger, something I would love to do again, only now that is older he likes to have the stage all to himself. I am so glad he is finding this means of expression with singing and dancing.

 

 

We always joked that he was a performer from birth, but seeing him grow into singing and dancing and being confident in himself is wonderful. I have a reason for feeling this. I never felt good enough growing up, except when I was singing and later writing. That is where I stopped being me, boring old Joanne, and was transformed by the music or words into another realm. It was like when I prayed, yet there of course I felt excepted by God. I know God loves everyone. With music it was like I was in another realm, a human one that is spiritual too. I think Michael feels this too. Music is so much more than just sounds and words. It is cathartic, it binds us, it bonds and brings back memories of people, time, place. I will hear a dance pop song and there I am in a bar with my girlfriends in my early twenties, another time I’ll hear a romantic song and think of when I slow danced to that song with my now husband, finally I’ll hear another song and it will bring me back to a random memory, my brother and I lip synching with our street friends one summer as we pretended we were a rock band. All good memories that made me grow as a person, all because of music. I know Michael is absorbing this too, especially as his latest favorite thing to watch are You Tube videos of his favorite pop, rock and hip hop songs. No more cartoons for my nine year old! And I see the connections being made.

Exceptional Parents, what has music done for your Exceptional Child and you? How does it help you and them deal with emotions, expression and life? I hope that your child will get to participate in as many concerts, musical performances and artistic ventures as possible. Music and the arts can open so much for them and will broaden their world and horizons as well as yours. Until next time.

Theatrical Performances and Exploration

 

Michael has been finding different ways to bond with Dad. They went from playing ball downstairs, to playing with figurines or board games, to puzzles, and now this week, to filming Michael singing and acting for camera while he beat boxes music. At first, his Dad and I thought it was just that one night he was exploring. He will see me putting up pictures on my blog or Facebook and tell me, “Mommy, can we take a picture of this to put on Facebook?” It’s been so cute, but never has he tried something like this, actually wanting us to record him performing. And wow! He is singing, rocking, talking and acting like a professional. He has performed songs a capella beautifully, made up songs, and done silly little routines.

“Record me Daddy.” I will hear him saying. They have played back some of the videos and it was incredible. I am seeing a new confidence emerge from Michael, and I keep encouraging him as does his Dad.

 

“I told you Buddy, you belong in the theater with dancing and singing.” I see it. Even at school he is more shy, but I can’t wait for him to blossom, come out of his shell, and shine up on stage like he does at home. I see him doing great things, whether professionally one day personally or both. Acting, singing, dancing, it brings out the inner beauty of all of us and helps us grow. I can’t wait to see where this next leg of Michael’s exploration will take him and us.

Exceptional Parents, what type of art do you Exceptional Children like to do? Are they musicians, actors, dancers, writers, storytellers, or a combination of all three? Help them explore these avenues of creativity by exposing them to what they gravitate to. Music is a great start. It opens up the channels of communication for our kids, it opens up their world. See where they go from there. The most important thing to remember is to let them be themselves, and just like I’ve observed, your child will surprise you with what they can do. Until next time.