Tag: puberty

How To Navigate Puberty With Your Exceptional Child

So Michael is in puberty. He actually has been for awhile.  What I have seen over the last two years is a child who is fighting for his independence while simultaneously trying to handle the ups and downs of coping with emotions that are sometimes out of his control. This is further complicated by his other conditions and his diabetes. Still, I am proud to see the inroads he has made, and equally frustrated when there have been battle of the wills between us. I admit to sometimes getting too caught up in trying to control the situation. This is exactly what infuriates tweens and teens the most, a battle for control. I am learning that while Michael needs my rules and structure on the one hand, he also needs me to be able to step back and give him some room to make mistakes or decisions that may be for the best. This is not always easy for me to do, but I am learning when I need to step in, and when I need to step back.

Here are some tips I can offer for other exceptional families navigating puberty:

1) Stay calm: There is nothing worse when your kid loses it and you do too. Keep your cool.

2) Let your child set the pace whenever possible: Give them leeway for decisions whenever you can, whether or not it is a good or bad decision, as long as it does not endanger them. Don’t always try and correct them. They need to learn MANY times often through trial and error.

3) Be open to new therapies and medications: It is also good to keep an open mind about new therapies and medications that could help your child function more calmly.

4) Be prepared for sexuality as if they were neuro typical: This is both cool and frightening for many exceptional parents, as we are both happy if our child is experiencing sexual thoughts, but worry how to explain things to them. Go with their flow and speak in simple concrete language to explain things.

5) Seek help and support with a sexologist certified to work with special needs kids or a good psychotherapist:   It’s important to line up your team to help your child navigate puberty ideally right before they hit puberty or shortly thereafter. These people will be able to give you and your child support on how to handle the difficult moments puberty can bring.

Exceptional Parents, are you or your Exceptional Child feeling stressed handling the day to day effects of puberty? Is your child having a hard time understanding what is happening? Reach out for help. Everyone from your child’s doctor, to other parents, to schools can have good strategies to offer. Yes, there is not a lot of information on how kids who are exceptional handle puberty from their perspective, but search out blogs of adults on the spectrum who have been through this. They will have words of wisdom to offer you and your child. Finally, as a parent it is important to trust your own gut when it comes to how best to help your child through this exciting and challenging time. Don’t be afraid to experiment while also trusting that you may know exactly what they need to move forward confidently in their future. Until next time.

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there before realizing the gift of who my son is.  For more information about me and my journey, check out my website :www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com  as well as my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks. 







How to Handle Anxiety And Sensory Issues in an Older Child

analog, binder, blank

This week has been an interesting week with Michael. Well, pretty much every week is interesting. Some weeks are more challenging than others, good and bad. Last week was a good week overall, but I did notice a lot of anxiety in Michael. The good thing is he is learning to express himself better and talk about his feelings. The bad thing is that the same measures that used to work (offering him sensory massages, pillows to squeeze and showing him his exercise ball) don’t always work. He will sometimes actively fight me on even trying these techniques. This is what I am calling the curse of the tween hormones, with a touch of autism. I add the last part for a little bit of humor to get us through the tougher moments when Michael is pretty arguing with us about everything. This morning it was when he would do his chores so he could accumulate money to buy his next toy. Weekends are tough as the structure changes, and though it has been nice taking a break from extracurricular activities, Dad and I now he needs them again. The brain break was good, but physically for stress relief and sensory reasons we see how he really needs to move.

It’s tough though, as he is at the age when he does not like challenge. Our school physiotherapist warned us that due to a mild hypotonia, he may not like being physically pushed to go a little farther. But in order for him to get strong and build muscle,  he would need to move as this would help him. When he moves, just like any child, he also burns energy, feels more relaxed and positive, and handles stress and sensory issues better. It’s a tough balance, and one I am slowly learning to navigate as the mother of a tween. In all areas, he is growing up, pushing us away in daytime, and then pulling us closer at night. Sundays he dreads going back to school even though he is doing well. It is the pushing of limits. He wants to play it safe, as we are trying to teach him that only by taking risks can he make progress. I find that by giving him some freedom, I am helping him learn his own power. But then I must remind him, these are your strategies to calm down. Let’s write them on a paper. Let’s look at pictures of the equipment. Now you try what works.

Exceptional parents, what sensory issues/anxieties are your experiencing with your Exceptional Child? Are they close to or at the tween age or younger? You will see your child move through cycles, no matter what age they are. There will be good days and bad days. There will be victories and setbacks. The most important thing you can do is remind your child that though there are rules they have to follow with you and adults around them, they also have a measure of control over their life, their anxiety, and their sensory issues. Praise them when they make a good choice. Calmly redirect when they stumble. And if you need a minute, give yourself a time out to breathe and move forward. Only if you are calm and centered, can you help your child move forward into independence as stress-free as possible. Until next time.

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 Session, see my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

SPECIAL OFFER: February is the month of love. We show love to our children, partners and friends But what about to ourselves as parents? Do you know how to practice self-care and truly love the amazing parent and person you are? If you need support in this area of your life, until Feb. 28th I am offering a FREE ONE HOUR one on one coaching session, as well as a second one hour one on one coaching session at 50% off regular price. Give yourself the gift of self-love, and learn some great tools to begin to put your needs first so you can parent in balance. Contact me at joanne@creatingexceptionalparenting.com or 514-827-7175 to book your Skype session. www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com



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.”







Michael’s Love of Music Videos-Conflicting Exceptional Emotions


My little boy is growing up. And just like his Mom at his age, has developed a love for music, and music videos in particular. It was shocking to me at first though I am proud that he knows the songs and singers educating me for the first time, and that music helps him move, unwind and is part of his swing/stim routine in the basement. What worries me is the content on the videos, as it does most parents I’m sure. But the thing is Michael is so much more innocent than other kids. Mind you, I was very innocent too about matters of sex and other things at his age. It’s the more risque content out there that scares me and the availability of all music, tame and the not so tame on the internet. Thank God for “audio only”.  We have told Michael that he is not to watch any pop, rock or hip hop videos until his father and I have screened them first. The woman who hasn’t watched many music videos is now screening then whenever she can squeeze them in, but I digress. 🙂 Most of them are fine, but we have caught some “swear words,” so Michael now has learned to type two more words on the computer keyboard, “clean and audio.” I am proud that he is happy to just listen to the music and understands that the content is “not for little kids,” as we told him. Though the other day he did watch a video and forget, (I don’t know if on purpose), and saw the racy version of it. So far no questions, but we’ll see. Dad and I were each negligent in supervising him that day thinking the other one was nearby.


This is an amazing step, but I can’t help feeling a little worried. How can I explain some of the images to him that he may come across, some of the lyrics? So far I’ve managed well enough, and I knew this day was coming, still I worry about his innocence. How will he interpret this? My parents never worried about my brother and I. We are neuro typical (or neuro typical enough as a friend and I often joke), and the videos were not today’s level of racy. It’s an added dimension for parents of all kinds of kids. Still, what’s interesting is that I have this problem. Michael likes the teen scene. Maybe next we’ll be having arguments over designer clothes. That would be kinda cool. Of course he is still literal in how he interprets things and we have to be careful how we explain things, but this new problem I have is one I did not see coming. He likes when I sit down next to him to watch, and when I let him watch alone. We are bonding in a new way which is great.

What surprises have your Exceptional Children thrown your way? What issues did you not think you’d be dealing with yet or never? How are you dealing with them? It’s important you identify how you’ll tackle these issues with your kids Exceptional parents, so they can grow up confident in themselves, and you in trusting their abilities. Until next time.