Tag: religion

Learning to Live in the Moment of Christmas With My Exceptional Son

Each Christmas has posed its own challenges for me as an Exceptional Mom. And every year, I have made the same promise to myself; that I will not get overwhelmed myself, get angry, and feel stressed when I can’t help Michael. I have usually failed in having this success at going with the flow of the holidays for one simple reason;  I was just saying words. The words were lovely in essence, but I wasn’t really practicing what I was preaching; tolerance for things not going exactly according to plan, worries about other member of my family or friends judging my parenting decisions, and my own little girl notions of what a “perfect” family Christmas should be. Heck, even my friends with neuro typical kids don’t experience that perfect a Christmas. But what could I say? I was a perfectionist. Now, I am a realist. I make mistakes with Michael. I make personal mistakes too. But that critical inner voice, the one that used to tell me I was stupid and something was wrong with me is gone. The hard work I started doing years ago has paid off, and though there are still things I am working on to improve in myself, the process is gentle and loving now, as I would do with Michael.

What is different about this year is that I know Christmas won’t be perfect. I don’t want perfection anymore. What I want is the best Christmas I and my family can have within our emotional parameters. I also remind myself what I have always known, but this year due to work and Michael’s exta challenges, I got away from. All cliches aside, Christmas is not about presents, decorations, or parties. It’s about a feeling deep down inside of light, peace, gratitude, helping others and goodness. Whether you celebrate  Christmas, Hanukkah, Qwanza, or the Winter Solstice, it’s really all about the same things; light and love coming into the world. It’s about people coming together to bring this light and remember we are all one people. This year I had to miss two Sundays of Church. I did my Advent prayers and lit the candles once a week, but I did not take a lot of time for God and prayer and contemplation like I had planned in between mass and my quick prayers of thanksgiving in morning and at bedtime. No matter. I will start today on Christmas Eve, get immersed in the beauty of Christmas Eve Mass as usual, and I  will continue for the holiday season and beyond to try and be a light in the world for myself, my family, and  others who cross my path. I will be that light for Michael even when we both struggle with peace inside.

Exceptional Parents, do you know that you are the light of your child’s world? The holidays are a great time to connect to whatever religions or spirituality you believe in, if you are a spiritual person. If not, meditation is a wonderful way to connect to a powerful Source, to nature to the Universe and feel recharged and whole. Take this holiday season to slow down. There is no “one” way to celebrate the holidays, other than finding that light inside of yourself, keeping your loved ones near, and remembering to charge your spirit with love and peace to be the best channel for your child. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza and a Blesssed Winter Solstice. Wishing you and your families Happy and Healthy Holidays. 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

Are you and your exceptional family ready for the holiday season? Do you need new strategies to cope with anxiety and stress? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS

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Gratitude and Sharing In The Community- Teaching My Exceptional Son About Love and Faith

 

It’s been a difficult journey, trying to teach Michael about things that are not concrete, things like spirituality. But never has Michael needed it more than now, when he is struggling with finding his own voice, power, and feeling like he has control making decisions. I can see that he is on the cusp of puberty, and has been there for quite a while. He has been questioning many things his Dad and I have said for awhile now, but when he started questioning his spirituality and religion, I knew he had come into a new realm in his development. It makes me sad that we can’t pray together like we used to, and that he is not taking what I am teaching at face value anymore. Yet, I have to say I am proud of him for asking questions, for challenging me. It is exhausting sometimes, particularly when the big questions calmly asked are interspersed with days when everything I tell him to to do is questioned and results in exchanging words. However, this shows me how he is maturing and becoming his own person. He also patiently listens and watches what I do. I see his maturity.

We have yet to put his rosary in the car. He asked me this a few weeks ago, so that he could see God there.  I admit I keep forgetting to do it. Tomorrow I will bring it up and offer to let him put his up next to mine. He will also once in awhile ask questions about God, about prayer and about the state of the world we live in. He asks about homelessness, people struggling in poverty. I do my best to answer honestly trying not to trigger more anxiety. He lives and breathes enough of that everyday.  I am happy to answer these questions, but he does not want to pray with me. Still, I take it as a promising sign that he is being open minded when I pray out loud and he does not get angry like he used to in the fall.  He is seeing so much turmoil with some of his closest friends now and trying some of this out at home. He is re-enacting some strange games. He rolls his eyes when I put on Christmas music. He is a mini teenage, I think. Still there are great amazing days when I see how his intelligent mind works. These days help me through the emotionally difficult ones where he and I struggle to understand one another through the maze of autism and anxiety.

Exceptional Parents, how are your children handling the lead up to the holidays? Is this a difficult time of the year for them and you? For many families it is due to the structure going down and uncertainty about what is coming. Do your best to be there for your child, listen to them, be clear in your expectations, and let them observe you taking a positive and proactive view in practicing what you believe, physical or spiritual. Until next time.

 

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

 

How My Exceptional Son Sees Spirituality, Life, and The World

Wow! What a weekend on many levels. First of all, I started a wicked sinus cold on Thursday which sort of came to a head on Saturday, but I didn’t let it stop me from doing the clean up in my house. I had plans of grocery shopping, cleaning out my home office (LONG overdue), and laundry.  In spite of maxing up on Tylenol Cold Medicine, it was a productive weekend. It was also an amazing weekend with Michael as far as long talks, questions, and bonding went. He had some issues with Dad and was particularly sensory on both days (weather getting colder), but they managed in the end. The amazing discussions with me were about life and spirituality. After another tough few weeks of managing behaviors, it was a welcome break.

He surprised me by being up super early on Saturday, which does occasionally happen but has not in awhile. I’d had my coffee and my lemon water and was about to start my meditation when I heard his door open down the hall. I was greeted with a big smile and a good morning. I asked him if he was ready for breakfast soon and he surprised me with a yes, then told me he would go to stim and listen to the radio (basically rocking on our couch as he listens to his favorite pop music station) while I made his pancakes.  He went to the washroom, but when he came back, instead of heading into the living room, he came back to the kitchen, and sat down in one of the chairs and began to talk to me while I worked.

He began to talked about how happy he was the house was getting cleaned up and we were renovating our bathroom. He also asked about money as he’d overheard a bill discussion Dad and I had had. This was the perfect lead in for me to gently bring up that a good way for me to have more time to make money, would be to have more work time availability open to me if he went to an after-school program a few days a week. The bus would bring him there and I would pick him up a little later.  I prepared myself for anger or crying, but Michael surprised me by being interested to try. I had been thinking about an after-school program for Michael for a few months already. He always needed to go places. We had this beautiful mature discussion about work, money, how families could share chores and make the most of their time together on the weekend. I was so proud of his maturity.

The next surprise came Sunday evening at dinner. We were all eating when Michael randomly asked his father if he believed in God and prayed.  Michael does not like to talk about God and religion, and even went through a phase where he was being negative just to spite me. Dad answered that yes he believes in God, but he leaves the praying to me for everyone. Then Michael answered that he does not believe in God or in going to church. I took a chance and calmly corrected him telling him that I know church is hard for him as he is bored, but that I know he believes in God. He looked surprised. I reminded Michael how he asked me to put his rosary in the car next to mine so he would feel God there. I also reminded him how he admitted he sometimes prayed to God and that God is everywhere.

“Is God here right now Mommy listening to us talk?”

“Yes, Michael. God is always here and listening. He is always there for you.”

“I keep my rosary by my bed Mommy so I know God is there. I don’t feel alone.”

It warmed my heart as I know praying has given him so much comfort since he was little. I am happy to see his beliefs coming back. Once again, he amazed me with his maturity and the discussion we had.

Exceptional Parents, what eye opening moments have you had with your Exceptional Children? I’ll bet each day there are many times that they take your breath away with their take on life, and their wise beyond their years answers. Hold on to these moments. They are the ones your child needs to remember to move forward in growth, love, and security and you along with them. 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. You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and GooglePlus. 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

Spiritual Confusion, A Lost Social Milestone, and Handling What We Can’t Control

I am feeling sad sometimes these days and experiencing  a heavy heart. Michael refuses to come to church with me. I saw it coming last year; all his questions, his boredom, everything being over his head. It is also so abstract, God, an  entity in the universe he can’t feel or touch. Lots of neuro typical adults and kids have trouble with the concept. Yet still, going to church was something we did as a family. It got difficult for Dad to come, then it was Michael, now I go alone. I stayed away all summer knowing the summer was hard for him, and hoping, like last year, I could bring him back with me. No luck this year.

I finally realized I would have to go myself. And what’s so bad about that? It’s great in a way. I can fully be present at mass and worship. I am experiencing church in a more relaxed way.  But I miss him. I miss his interruptions and questions and us going as a family. I have experienced going to different masses hoping that changing masses and seeing different faces would be less painful for me, but no luck. Instead I just missed the wonderful people at the children’s mass that I know and love. And, I realized I deserved to have my Sunday worship space back. Also, I am a stubborn woman. I do still hope that Michael will change his mind and come back to church with me. But I have let go of worrying. It wasn’t serving either of us.

Why am I taking this so hard? Well, you see, I wanted to give Michael the same upbringing, more or less, that I had had. I wanted to expose him to the same ideas and have him decide when he was older what he accepted or rejected.  I also wanted him to know he has a home in our church, and that there are people outside of our special needs community that understand and respect him.  Was I making my child a poster child? I don’t think so. In my own way, I wanted to normalize autism and disabilities and show Michael that who he is is something to be celebrated. He didn’t want this anymore though, and I have to accept t and respect his decision. I also viewed his moving away from church as a lost milestone of functioning in the non adapted world. Did he lose the skill? He has talked a lot about his social fears lately. Then I realized no. You and he did not fail. This is a skill he must learn in his own time. We’ve gone from him getting upset when I pray or talk about God, to understanding that it is my right to pray as it is his not to, for now. I am doing the best I can for my son. And, my son is an amazing little boy doing his best too. We must each do our best, follow or own path, and the Universe and God will show us each the way.

Exceptional Parents, where have you felt you failed your child? How have you beaten yourself up for simply doing the best and sometimes things not working out? Have you felt a milestone of progress has been lost?   First of all, you did not fail. It’s ok. You’re human. They’re human. You are doing the best you can as a parent. You cannot blame yourself for everything that does not work out. You are not a therapist, and you do not need to solve every problem your child has. All you have to do is go with their flow, love them for who they are, and take care of loving and respecting who you are and what you need. Until next time.

 

Looking for tools to handle anxiety? Download my FREE EBOOK ON “5 WAYS TO MANAGE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” at http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS. 

 

Church, Community and Appreciation of Difference

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

4 Ways To Parent Better By Quieting Your Mind

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All this week I have been seeing signs form the universe that have been telling me the same message: slow down, be quiet. And no, it’s not me telling Michael to keep quiet and gave me some Mom space, though as with any Mom, I have my moments. This goes deeper than that. This is about finding my inner strength again by quieting my mind properly and slowing down. One of the people sending me this message has been Michael ironically enough. He has been very independent this week, not asking to go anywhere, but content to swing downstairs or do his Google Maps or You Tube videos after his homework. Even when he was anxious about school the other day, he calmly told me about it. No tantrums, no fuss. His Dad was relatively calm too, but it’s been me who has been working at warp speed, thinking that way too, and have been feeling a little, well, like I can’t seem to get off the roller coaster.

May is a busy month for us, but it’s more than that. Finally, as I began to pay more attention to signs that God and the Universe were sending me about what has to change, I began to see very clearly what I had to do: be quiet and slow down. First, Michael making me alter the course of my day on Monday by him being home. It was great. I actually stopped mid morning to have a snack, I took a small break. I also had a lot of quiet when he was playing alone. And I slowed down. Tuesday I had a business conversation, and was given some really good advice about taking time to get quiet when making any decisions.  And last week, as my meditation has not been having the same effect on me due to, you guessed it, not slowing down, I learned why I couldn’t get quiet inside. I was moving too fast. So, guess what book fell down in the room when I was in there looking what to read next? “You Are Here” by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, who talks about living in the moment and doing things mindfully. By this point I was smiling in relief. Finally, I had my last gentle reminder.

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Last night I attended a wonderful cafe at my church. And the lovely speaker talked about the very same things I have mentioned only she went deeper. She pretty much described by the ritual prayers and meditations she had us do around the theme of spring and renewal, the whole last year of my life and where I was now. Wow! What an experience. It made me think of how important it is for all Moms, all Exceptional Parents, to get still and quiet, and slow down on the inside. That is when growth will happen. But how do you do it? Here are 4 Ways that Have Helped Me Learn to Slow Down as an Exceptional Mom:

  1. Meditation and Yoga: When done properly, it opens up your body, mind and spirit to seeing the world in a different way.
  2. Prayer, resting and spending time in nature: These could go all together, or be done separately. This doesn’t necessarily mean structured prayer, or a nap, but whatever way you pay homage to the blessings in your life by stepping away from your immediate world and looking around you.
  3. Attend a talk or take a class that opens your mind: By opening your mind, you free it to think of other things, and learn new ways of being and existing.
  4. Keeping your eyes, ears and heart open for signs of what to do: This is a biggie. Now I know this sounds a little crazy, but it’s not. You will see signs that you are on or off the right path if you look for them. Try this: Ask a question to yourself, really it is to God or the Universe, about what you should do next. See what people, things, events transpire in the next few days. You will see a pattern and have your answer.

Exceptional Parents, how do you slow down and get quiet? What are your tricks for doing that? Are you showing these to your Exceptional Children? Remember, every opportunity you have is a chance to slow down and get quiet if you make the effort. You will enjoy life more and doors will open up as never before. This goes for your child too. Trust in your heart and in the power of the Universe and God to lead you down the right path. Until next time.