Tag: special needs children

Bedtime Battles-10 Ways For Exceptional Moms To Cool Down

So I did it again. I know better. I know how audio visual, and nighttime anxiety, and testing behaviors come out at night. And still, still I gave Michael a chance to get a later start on his bedtime routine. It quickly became a bedtime battle with Michael getting upset and me yelling. Really, I’m more disappointed in myself as I know better usually. He’s a great kid, but like any kid, he will do what he has to do to stall going to bed.

“I’m not tired Mommy. I can go to bed at 10:00 pm.” Yeah right. Then his eyes are closing at school, (his own admission) and I can see by the end of the day he is fried. So, I said it before but I did not stick to it. Sometimes, even with good intentions us Moms make mistakes. Starting tomorrow, I will be more firm that with a heavier bedtime schedule he needs to start earlier or else do a shorter routine. And I will plan on enforcing this more strictly and holding myself accountable. Another thing I did wrong was that I was not forceful enough after school that I needed to work. Michael was testing and rude, then apologetic and clingy, so much so that I got no work done after school then no work done after dinner due to fighting about bath so I was, well, feeling sorry for myself and licking my own wounds so to speak. I know now that this will not help anyone so I will not do it anymore.

Last night made me think of all the ways I can learn to hold my emotional stuff together and give other parents tips on what works for me. Some of these are harder to implement than others even though I know better, but I am getting there. So, here are my 5 tips:

  1. Rid yourself of your own emotional angst:  Lots of parents, Moms especially, keep their own feelings in until they burst. Don’t do this. You don’t help your child or yourself and you cause lots of stress that is not necessary. If you feel anger or resentment at your child, yourself, your partner, find a productive outlet to release it and do something positive for yourself.
  2. Make sure you are sleeping enough: Sleep deprivation or exhaustion does not help anyone in your family. A person will not tolerate stress well until they are rested and calm. The world will still turn if you go to bed early a night or two. Try it.
  3. Remind yourself your child is not trying to make your life miserable: It is hard sometimes when we are frustrated and tired to see challenging behavior for what it really is; a child’s cry for help and attention. We need to not take it personally, see what is bothering them, and go from there. But, we need the emotional distance from our own feelings before getting there.
  4. Breathing and meditation: I know. I’ve probably said breathing and meditation a million times in my blog posts (and will put them in a million more), but it is so important to take are of yourself with mindfulness and staying the moment. Even when I fail to do this, yoga and meditation have showed me HOW to get back on the right track.
  5. Exercise regularly: Finally am getting back to a regular exercise routine in 2017. I always am shocked how I make excuses not to do something that makes me feel wonderful inside. I was having some mini anxiety attacks earlier in the week, and then I realized why: tired and not exercising to handle stress. I did one workout this week and am planning two more, but even after one I felt like a million dollars. I did a 2o minute Zumba routine. Do anything Moms. Walk. Go on a treadmill, swim, bike. Your body will thank you a million times.
  6. Get a massage or go to a spa: For those of you lucky enough that your partner can do it, ask for one and give one in return. It’ll spark something else. For everyone else, go every  few months if you can afford the splurge. Lots of spas have gifts cards, discounts and I like to go to a Hammam experience at a local spa near me. It is in my price range and can tide me over till I get a one hour or one hour and a half massage.
  7. Make quality time with your child before bedtime to bond: When you are truly bonding with your child in all senses of the word, you will feel the connection. They will not need to act out and will feel secure and you won’t get upset.
  8. Find out what about their behavior is triggering you: This is something I just learned about recently. What our kids do that bug us is usually what we did to our parents or how they responded to us. See if you can get to the bottom of it by journaling about your feelings or talk to a therapist.
  9.  Spend time out with family and friends: This is important to do alone and with your child. You’ve got to see them in a good context and not just in when they are misbehaving.
  10. Cry, scream, write, get it out of your system: Don’t be afraid to let out your emotions when you are alone and it is safe to do so. You need to leave room for everything in your body, mind and soul, including the bad emotions.  As long as it is cathartic and does not make you delve deeper into depression, it is the way to go.

Exceptional Parents, do you have your own tricks to stay calm with your children that are different from those above? If so, great. I’d love to hear them! If they work, more power to you. If not, feel free to try any and all of the above. The important thing is to remember we all have our breaking point, but to try to not let yourself get to that point for everyone around you. 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@exceptionalparenting.com or 514-827-17175 to book your Skype session. 

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How Sensory Regulation Helps With Challenging Behaviors

 

I began to see a big shift in Michael the day he began to notice he had sensory issues and how he could handle or regulate these. The first time was about four years ago. He was having issues when he first came in from school, a usual difficult time of the day for all kids, but particularly kids with neuro developmental issues or autism. We began working with a great Psycho Educator who suggested, based on his activity preference, what she called a “calm box or corner.” In this box would be objects like squeeze toys he could use and beans to play with, all these to handle with his hands which helped calm him down. The “calm corner” was similar for his central nervous system. It had toys like this as well as stuffed animals to squeeze, a ball, a boxing punching bag if he was angry etc. There were also pillow that he could put on top of him or around him like a fort. As well, it could include his swing and trampoline and a play tunnel to run through. And guess what happened? After talking with him about his feelings of anxiety and overload and how he couldn’t come home and yell and throw things, one glorious day Michael connected the pieces. He came through the door, looked at me and I could tell he was wiped out. He said:

“I need to go downstairs to my calm corner and run through my tunnel.”

He was six years old! I was so glad he was beginning to make that connection of body and mind and learn to start regulating. Michael’s sensory issues even now interfere with his functioning sometimes. We are now back to using gum which helps him focus, stay calm in situations where he is nervous or tired. We have also ordered him some vibrating toys as he likes to clink toys against his chin and if no toy is available use his hand. He was starting to leave a red mark which was worrying us so we have now implemented that. The exciting this though is when Michael started connecting the dots and was able to communicate his needs to Dad and I. From there, we have all been able to come up with tools together where Michael gets the final say as to what works.

Exceptional Parents, are you struggling to help your Exceptional Child regulate their sensory issues? Are they exhibiting a lot of bad behaviors due to this? You are not alone. It happens to all of us at one time or another. Just remember to try and communicate with your child. Ask them how they are feeling and help them learn to be their own little detective in figuring out how they can meet their sensory needs. If you play detective as well, you will be able to see what sets them off and what helps them. It will be the gift of a lifetime when they have tools to handle the difficult times in their life. And you as a parent will be calmer and happier seeing your child manage their stress so well.  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 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 sessions. 

Surprises On The Autism Path-Development and Revisiting Our Own Limitations

Today I finally read the Occupational Therapist’s report on Michael’s progress in his last OT Workshop. He participates in many of these sessions that work on fine motor development with hand writing, manipulating objects, cutting and pasting in crafts as well as gross motor strength. I have learned over the years that all these skills the rest of us NT people take for granted learning, are hard for kids with developmental delays and autism. As tears threatened to fill my eyes, I read, as usual, how Michael mastered yet another skill like cutting a shape out of construction paper, or twirling a pencil, which is something he could not do in the fall when he started. There are always so many obstacles he overcomes and everywhere on the paper it is written how cheerfully he cooperated and how much fun he had. My heart both breaks for the difficulties he has to face in learning things the rest of us take for granted along with the pride in his victories and the gains he has made.

But then the hard part for me as an Exceptional Mom comes. The part where the therapist mentions “continuing his gains” by practicing the following exercises at home whenever we have a chance. And they are never difficult or expensive per se. But Michael would never do them with me. I always would feel like a failure as a parent that I could not continue the therapist’s work at home on weekends or holidays or summer vacation. Yesterday morning was no exception after I read the note. Except. Except something amazing happened. He was home on a “Snow Day” the whole day. The weather was terrible. I had to work. After playing the inevitable games by himself and watdching a movie he was getting antsy. I sucked in my breath and decided to dare it. I suggested going to Pinterest and finding a craft activity together that we could do. I almost fell  off my chair when he agreed. He blew me away! He did most of it himself and when I praised him, I saw the look of pride, happiness and excitement that he had created something. He even complimented me on my craft abilities, which suck by the way. I told him that and you know what he said?
“Mommy, don’t say that. I think you’re good at crafts.”

The child raising the parent. The child trying something new when the parent had almost given up. I was shown an amazing lesson by Michael today. 1) I am not a failure as a Mom if I can’t get him to do crafts and 2) I should never give up trying new things, with him and alone.

Exceptional Parents, what kind of surprises are your Exceptional Children capable of if you throw them a curve ball or something different? Don’t give up on something because it has not worked in the past. Keep trying. Keep believing. And always know your child will surprise you for the better if you give them the chance. Remind them they can do anything as can you!

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

JANUARY SPECIAL: Refer a friend to a six month program, and receive 2 one on one coaching sessions with me at 50% off

Looking to make a fresh start in 2017 with the way you handle anxiety in your special needs family? Download my FREE EBOOK: “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS

 

 

An Inside View Into My Son’s Way of Thinking About His Autism-The Quirky, The Fun, The Challenging

The last few days have been really interesting ones with Michael. He has been calm, listening well, and telling me he is listening for his rewards. But he has also been staying in control of his emotions and letting me help redirect him when he needed help managing things. It has been a relief to see he is finding his emotional equilibrium again. I worry so much when aggression is present, but am starting to see my part in helping exacerbate or move it along. I am also seeing my part in helping tone it down.

The most interesting thing to happen was that Michael began to tell me where he comes up with a lot of his ideas and the things he says. The latest thing he is saying is “Mommy is made up of clay. She is soft with soft hands and face and legs.” When I asked him where he learned this, he said he came up with it proudly. He loves clay and he loves me. It’s kind of like when he tells me he wants to write a story and later is talking about wanting to work at home in an office like me, but instead of writing he wants to design maps. I am so flattered that he is copying me and emulating some of the good stuff. God knows, he has copied some of the bad stuff like language I have said in anger that I regret. It is wonderful to see him developing like this.

There are still the times he challenges me with minor behaviors to see how far he can go, but most of the time now we are settling into a nice relating back and forth again. I have heard many  “I love you’s” and “You’re the best mother ever.” It’s nice to hear. There are times I feel I could do more, say more to make things better for him though he is doing well. I think every parent wishes that. But parents of exceptional kids, are always on the lookout; what could we improve? Michael’s sensory issues are out of whack so am talking to the OT to see what we could tweak there to help him. Yet through all of this, as I tell people, he is still raising me to be more aware of myself as a mother and person, of my own boundaries, issues, strengths and weaknesses. He is and always will be my champion.

Exceptional Parents, do you often  have an inside view into your child’s mind with autism? Do they grant you that willingly or do things sometimes slip out that you see or hear? Regardless, whatever way you find out about it it is a gift. It is a gift to see how our child’s brain feels things and sees the world. It gives many more tools to learn to help them get what they need so that they can learn and become the best they can be. 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 Session, see my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. SPECIAL OFFER:  NEW YEAR’s SPECIAL: Refer a friend to a six month coaching program, and receive one individual coaching session for 50% off. 

Looking to make a fresh start in 2017 with the way you handle anxiety in your special needs family? Download my FREE EBOOK: “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS

 

 

How Exceptional Mom Calm Makes All the Difference for Exceptional Children

Today Michael was home on a PED DAY. As usual I made sure to structure it with him so that he would know what to expect. He is getting better with leaving some unstructured time, but I find for both of us, particularly as I work at home, that we need on again, off again time where he is alone, I am with him, and then I am alone working. He knows Mom gets up early to work. Mom works while she is not with him. And Mom works at night. I remind him that having your own business and working from home means that and also that this way I am flexible to be there for him too. There is a lot of juggling, but both of us are getting the hang of it.

What I have been finding more and more lately is how when I am calm about anything it registers on a deeper level in Michael. Obviously, he is surface calm too seeing me laughing and we make jokes together. This morning we even had some affectionate moments when he was hugging and kissing me. These don’t happen that often anymore as he is getting older and starting to push away. I treasure them when I have them. He senses how happy I am to be with him and how calm. He picks up on my vibes. Likewise, the other day I was a little stressed and he picked up on that too. The challenging behaviors started coming out. It’s tough. As parents, we try to hold it together, but sometimes we just collapse and yell, swear (guilty of that one recently) and feel like we have failed. But we haven’t. We have simply seen what is not working and observed the difference in our child.

Michael asks lots of questions. He is curious about everything and everyone. I both love it and sometimes am exasperated by it. Still, I realize this is the only way to learn. By asking. By trying. By being. Isn’t that when I started making headway in my life? Yes, it was when I stopped being afraid to ask questions. When I stopped being afraid to try and conquer my anxiety and my fear. That is when I was reborn and now, hopefully, after a challenging December can start imparting that peace to Michael and others in my family.

Exceptional Parents, when you stop and are calm no matter what, how does this affect your Exceptional Child? Watch them next time; their face, their mannerisms, their voice, their body language. Don’t be afraid to just be with them no matter what else is happening. You are their most important connection even when they are angry at you. Show them how much they are loved by keeping calm body, mind and soul. 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 Session, see my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

Looking to make a fresh start in 2017 with the way you handle anxiety in your special needs family? Download my FREE EBOOK: “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS

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.

 

New Things to Do To Have An Easier Holiday With Your Exceptional Child

I sometimes forget how hard it will be for Michael over the Christmas holiday period, even with the structure we do put in. He gets overwhelmed by the all the activity, food and open time, plus this year a few extra birthday celebrations were added in. It has been too much for him and too much for Dad and I. We attempted to have a quiet New Year’s Eve in to make things easier on Michael, but it backfired in a big way. Maybe the distraction of people would have been better. Two days into the New Year and I and Dad are exhausted. With another week to structure and keep him busy, I have learned several things to keep in mind for next year. We will try in the hope that it will help us and Michael enjoy the holiday more:

  1. Schedule in a downtime activity every day: Crafts, movie etc. I am going to insist he do that so as parents we can have a breather as much as him.
  2. Look into a winter camp for a few days: He may need some artificial structure before school particularly on a long break.
  3. New behavior tools in place (which we have started doing): Whatever behavior tools you have in place may need to be modified as your child grows and matures.
  4. More time for me to chill: I admit it. My self-care sucked last week. The moments I wasn’t with Michael I was working, so by New Year’s Eve I was mentally fried. Next year, I will remind myself to take time to relax at night, not work.
  5. Make time to really be present for Michael: This sounds like a contradiction to many of the points above, but really I know, we all know that challenging behavior happens when our kids feel we are listening to them otherwise. Where is he getting this message? Maybe our time together feels forced to him or he is testing his strength in the family. Either way, Dad and I are making an effort to really be with him when we are and asking him to share what feelings he can since he is capable.

Exceptional Parents, what do you plan on doing differently for the next holiday if your holidays were rough or are still going rough with your Exceptional Child? As a matter of fact, you can start implementing many of these strategies right now in yours and your child’s daily life. Remember 2017 is your chance at a fresh start. 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.

Do you want to make new changes to your anxiety management strategies in 2017? Download my FREE EBOOK on “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS.

 

 

 

 

 

After the Festivities Are Over-5 Ways to Fine Tune And Help With Difficulties

 

As you will all see this post is late today. VERY late. I am in “Christmas Recovery” mode which lasts for two days before we go into “Birthday Recovery Mode” for Michael with which I need another day’s recovery, but that is a separate post. 🙂 Like most families with exceptional kids, the holidays are beautiful and stressful all in one breath. There are the moments you see them sitting quietly and listening and you take a breath in and are able to talk to family. Then, there are the other moments when, well, you look forward to coming home and having that nice glass of wine when they are finally asleep. I had many of both moments throughout the day yesterday. I had my discouraging moments when I was kind of feeling sorry for myself among my family whose children are neuro typical and listen. Then of course, I immediately felt guilty. Guilty due to the fact that Michael, and all kids like him who have autism or are exceptional in some other way, are doing the best that they can. It is not an excuse for rudeness and disrespect. We had a talk yesterday about how he needs to follow the rules, and if he is having a hard time he needs to tell us. I also reminded him, as he knows about his autism, that it is not an excuse to be used to misbehave. We know he is capable of more than what he is doing. We spoke some more this in the am. He is so anxious, has a lot of difficulty regulating himself and friendships are challenging though he is starting to learn how to play and talk with his many good friends.

What did I learn this holiday? Well, every year I look at what our family did right and what we did wrong. I tally them up and keep it in mind for the next year. This year, my mind is in a better place. I not only accept that there will be ups and downs in the next two weeks, but I am using better ways to cope with my own feelings of success and failure as parent. We all have those moments. We are human. What are the ways I fine tune my own thinking for future holidays? Here are 5 of them:

 

  1. Each day I do the best I can with what I have: This is my new mantra. I have moments when I doubt myself and my mothering, but I remind myself what I remind Michael: do the best that you can and go with your instinct.
  2. Get as much sleep as you can or grab a rest here or there: Sleep is essential. The first two days of the holidays I slept a total of 10 hours, never mind the bad sleeping of the nights before leading up to the holidays.What I did instead to make up for it, was grabbing a rest on the couch when Dad was with Michael. He did the same. This morning I felt much better waking up after seven hours of sleep.
  3. Laugh at the silly things: Our kids do SO many silly things. As long as it is not rude, it’s alright t to laugh. Hey, sometimes even the rude things are a little funny like when Michael repeated back to me when I was getting upset, “Mommy, you’re not using your strategies.” Just don’t laugh out loud.
  4. What went right? What could I change? This is where can see what strategies worked in preparing their child for a family visit and which didn’t. Don’t beat yourself up. I learned that arriving near the beginning of my family gatherings at a house is easier on Michael even if he gets bored and we have to leave early. Coming in midway like we did this year was too overwhelming for all of us.
  5. Have a wind down routine after if you need to: Oh yes. Now after two days of celebrating with both our families which is wonderful but exhausting, I make sure to take my glass of wine or spirits (or both) with me and curl up with a good book. It’s my way to unwind from the two days and tell myself, “Girl, you survived and learned what to do and not to do.”

Exceptional Parents, what are your holiday survival techniques? How do you recover alone and as a family? Another great thing is to not be afraid to cry or let out anger in a constructive way. The holidays are not picture perfect for anyone, except in the movies. I also highly recommend popping into online parent support group and attending any in person ones you are a member of in the new year. Comparing notes with others in your shoes will remind you that you are not alone. You and your families are doing the best that you can. 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.

It’s the holidays, one of the most beautiful and crazy times of the year! 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

 

 

 

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

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