Tag: special needs families

Honeymoon’s Over- Autism Behavior Triggers And How Exceptional Parents Can Learn from Them

So this afternoon the honeymoon period was over, the honeymoon period of NO behaviors for a good three weeks. I wasn’t clear and concise with something. I said one thing, then changed my mind. Michael was hungry, tired. It was just before dinner. As a matter of fact, I was getting dinner on the table. I said something he did not like. He started protesting, yelling, then before I could stop him, he broke a glass that was near the sink. Immediately he looked to see if his hand wasn’t cut. It wasn’t. I informed him this had cost him one of his tokens. He was upset, started to hit his head and continued trying to bargain with me and justify what he had done. I told him to calm down. I spilled the water from draining the pasta that I had cooked, and was losing my temper too. I quickly took a deep breath, and told Michael to go get washed up for dinner. We would talk at dinner. He finally listened, did what he was told and we talked strategies- how he could have handled himself better, why he needs to listen (not just to get things), and the importance of learning from our mistakes. It was a good conversation. Due to losing one of his 6 tokens, he did not get the usual one hour reward of time on the computer as he normally did, but the thirty minutes he gets for earning 5 tokens. We show him he can still succeed, and next time do better.

I’m sure this scenario plays out, and will play out I’m sure, many more times at homes where exceptional children reside. It’s normal. They don’t hear the boundaries. They are tired. They get frustrated and don’t have good coping mechanisms and they blow. It’s not easy. Even children who are on medication have these moments. I used to wonder as a Mom who has not gone down that route, if this would solve the problem. I think it is helpful, like any intervention, but should be used when it is used, in conjunction with good anger management strategies. When the child is aware and can grasp consequences for their actions, this is the best time to teach. I always do a rewind with Michael after such an incident and have been for the last year. I think it is helping him like it helps me, as long as we don’t overdue it.

What did I learn from last night’s episode? Yes, I am a parent coach and have learned many strategies to cope with my own anger, stress, and feelings of being overwhelmed in the last three years. But I am also a human being, and I have my breaking point. I allow myself the room to make mistakes, learn from them and regroup. I could have paid a little more attention to my words and been more concrete. Now, I’m not blaming myself for Michael’s outburst. His feelings reactions are his responsibility. But I am only saying that I need to be conscious of my words, stress level, and what I mean. With exceptional kids, they can often go from 0 to 100 very easily, particularly at times of the day when they are tired.  Michael has made leaps and bounds in his awareness. As I have blogged before he is even trying to do some neuro typical manipulating (as all kids do), with it in mind. I am proud, but it also means as a Mom, my job title got harder. It’s ok. I am ready for it.

Exceptional Parents, have you recently had breaks in your honeymoon behavior period with your children? How does this make you feel? It’s normal if your first reaction is stress and despondency. Self-pity sometimes comes in too. Give in to it for a few moments, but then it’s time to get back in the saddle. Think of the gift of the mistake. Learn from it and help your child to learn from it. Together the two of you will become stronger and closer as a result. 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 beat those winter blahs? Download my FREE EBOOK: “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS


Sharing Exceptional Feelings-How Parents Can Help Their Children Open Up


For awhile now Michael has responded really well to stories from my childhood, particularly stories where I spoke about times when I was stressed, struggled or didn’t listen. He is able to fully listen without interrupting and get the life lesson in them. This is a good thing on days like today when there were some rough moments. Michael had some challenging moments at school and his first swimming lesson in a new place. All of this unnerves him, and he will act out by talking louder, not listening and crying more. He did a little of each of these in the late afternoon today. What also didn’t help was that he was overtired. I could hardly wake him up this morning. The first of anything is really rough for Michael: first week of school, first swim class, and as I’ve mentioned before learning to self-regulate is challenging. It is also hard for us as his parents. Dad and I don’t want to cut him slack for not listening. He needs to follow rules. He cannot escalate and hit himself, others or property. Yet, I see sometimes how maybe pushing certain points only makes it worse.  Parents, all parents, but particularly those with Exceptional Kids, need to learn to pick their battles. Sometimes we pick the wrong ones and it does not end well for anybody. But, like with the stories of my youth, I tell Michael that we all make choices and we need to stand by the choices we make, good or bad, and learn from them.

I learned today that when I make mistakes with Michael, picking the wrong time to correct a habit, I can use the experience as a teaching one and learn what not to do for the future. I also am learning to teach him how parents make rules for kids’ safety and that he doesn’t have to like rules, but as a child he needs to follow them. They are made out of love if done properly, and most parents, even those of us who make mistakes, do make rules out of safety and properly for kids. Why I love telling him the stories of my youth is that it reminds me what was good about my upbringing. My parents were loving, but had boundaries in place firmly. I knew I couldn’t cross these boundaries. Sometimes, with Exceptional Kids who see the world differently, we forget that they need to see these boundaries too. Otherwise, they will walk all over us as any kid would. Sometimes more, as the added insecurities make them look for power. I see this with Michael and am learning to be loving, firm and assertive at the same time. He is a good kid, but like all good kids, needs guidance.

Exceptional Parents, how do you guide your Exceptional Children to good listening? What strategies do you use? As with many parenting strategies, there is no one right or wrong answer. What works for one child may not for another. At the base of anything that works needs to be love, complete love and acceptance for where your child is, and then you need to follow that with boundaries and structures that work for your child and family. Don’t ever hesitate to reach out if you need help, but remember, you know deep down inside what your child needs most. Until next time.

Happy New Year! Are you struggling to control anxiety in yourself or your child? It’s not easy, but remember you are never alone. For a FREE COPY of my  EBOOK  “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” email me at joanne.giacomini@gmail.com.

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: www.exceptionalparentingnet.wordpress.com. 



Impromptu Santa Visits And Learning About Gratitude And Materialism

This year it is cute but a little worrisome how Michael has really gravitated to the whole gift receiving thing. I was a little worried when he went to see his first Santa (yes he likes to visit them all this year) and asked for, wait for it, 13 gifts! I found this out as Santa turned in shock to me and said that he’d asked that. I told him that Michael was confusing the gifts for Christmas and his birthday which is a few days after and made sure, in front of Santa, to tell Michael that Santa does not have time to deliver all those gifts to him. Sigh. I have unintentionally become that parent I didn’t want to be, the materialistic parent whose kids wants more things.

To think I was so worried when as a baby he didn’t “get” Christmas. Add to this the fact he does not want to come to church, it is troubling. There is hope for Michael learning gratitude and giving though. At school we had to send in money to help a little girl whose family is struggling. Each child contributed some money to buy her toys. Our family also gives through our church to a charity that helps homeless men in Montreal. It is a sock campaign and they ask families to buy thick winter socks and each family can contribute toileteries to put in. There is also a canned food drive to make Christmas baskets. Michael usually helps us either buy, assemble or bring the goods to our church to help others.

We have answered many questions about children and families who don’t have enough money to buy food, clothes or pay for necessities. I think the message is being driven home somewhat, but we need to do more. Michael is rebelling a little bit and standing his ground about he wants to believe. I commend him for speaking his mind, and understand the difficulties of church for him due to a lot of it going over his head. Still, he is still asking about God, telling me he prays sometimes and the other day asked where his rosary was. I encourage all of this without pushing. Learning gratitude and that you are part of something bigger is important for all of us and a small step towards heading in a more spiritual and helping direction.

Exceptional Parents, how do you talk about gratitude and navigate materialism in your Exceptional family? Are your children at the stage where they are aware of it? Trust me, when it happens you need to be ready with lots of patience and love to show them that true happiness comes from connecting to others, helping and being a part of the bigger whole. 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

5 Ways to Reconnect With Your Child Who Has Autism

Michael and I have had our ups and downs in recent months. Now, we are on the ups again, and even when there are difficult moments, as I’ve said in previous posts, we gain equilibrium. He is learning how to manage his emotions as I am learning to manage mine. It is normal with any child that you will have moments of connect, and moments of disconnect. It is how you learn to navigate them that will make all the difference. That is what I have discovered with Michael, and hopefully, he with me.

Michael has been learning how to handle his feelings better. How to cry, talk about his emotions, and not resort to challenging behaviors to get his needs met. Some days are easier than others. Last night was an example where he was stressed, but quickly went to his room to calm down and managed to regulate himself. I was so proud of him. Yes, there were outbursts. Yes, there were moments when he hit objects, his head and yelled at me. But I stayed calm and quietly reminded him to redirect himself. And he did! It’s a beautiful thing for a Mom to witness on a tough afternoon for her child that the lessons his school psychologist, teacher and I are helping him with, are sinking in. He was a champ.

But, if as a parent you are having trouble reconnecting with your child, what can you do? Here are some ways I have found to reconnect with my son who has autism:

  1. Be there physically, mentally and spiritually there for them: Simple right? Wrong. On days when work calls, another child beckons for your attention or you are just out of it yourself, this is challenging. Still, this is mandatory that your child senses you are there listening to them in body and spirit. That’s when even if they have challenges, they will get through them as they know their parents are there for them.
  2. Make sure you check in with “you” throughout the day: As a parent, this is crucial. When was the last time you checked in with how you are feeling emotionally, physically or spiritually? If you are burnt out, frustrated, and have not been taking care of yourself guess what, your kids extra emotional sensors will pick up on it. And you will be no good to them or you. If you are having a tough day and can’t do all your self-care things, be honest about it. Do something gentle for you so when they come home, they sense it too.
  3. Listen to what their interests are and go with it: This is so important. My little guy is now into making imaginary friends and houses. Go figure he wants to do crafts! At the  park, he wants to race for his imaginary friends. Again, I am going with it, as it is encouraging his imagination, fine motor development and communication. Don’t tell your kid it’s weird and move on. Go with it. Remember also, it’s the weird people who get things done and move the world.
  4. Let them cry or yell as long as they are not destructive: This is one I have learned the hard way. I let Michael release all his emotions crying, yelling, stress, as long as he is not aggressive. Aggressive behavior is not allowed as it doesn’t help anyone. I let him release his emotions and it is truly helping him come in his own.
  5. Cuddle and bond in whatever way you can: Some kids get to a certain age and don’t want cuddling in the daytime, but many enjoy cuddling at night, kissing, hugging. I make sure to have this time with Michael or give him that time in some other way by talking or laughing in the day. Kids need to know you are there for them.

Exceptional Parents, how do you reconnect with your kids who have autism? How do you tell them you love them and are there for them? They know you are even if they don’t ask the question or can say the words. Say it. Hug them. Spend time with them doing what they love, and most importantly, make sure to tell them how special they are to you. They need to hear it at least once a day. I love you is so important for all of us to hear. Until next time.

Tired of handling anxiety and stress? Download my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS




5 Ways This Exceptional Mom is Making it Through The Time Change

This is a tough week for most people, even as we gain an hour of sleep. It is usually especially challenging for a lot of children, those who are and are not exceptional or have special needs. Exceptional Children’s various anxieties and sensory issues are just exacerbated during a week of the body adjusting to a new time schedule. Moms and Dads are not that far behind. For me this year, it is a little different than in other years. I am energetic at night (before I was not so), but fighting tiredness more in the morning. Thank goodness for coffee!

With Michael it is different too this year. In the past, during the week of the two time changes, there were spectacular meltdowns and tantrums, lots of tears and anger. This year it is not the case. Instead, I am seeing more of a stubborn or determined streak in Michael carrying on from the issues he has been having for the last couple of months. He is seeing how far he can go with me, how silly or rude he can be if he does not get his way, then begging me not to leave as he is pushing me away. Sigh. I know. It is him growing up-the pushing and pulling to assert himself, and see where he begin and I end. His testing of authority is particularly tough this week, as I see he is struggling a bit with tiredness in the daytime too. He is mastering it well. He also lost one baby tooth last week, and another is barely hanging on. This is not helping matters.

Whatever the case of our child’s temperament, how can we handle surviving this time change week? Here are 5 things that are working for me:

  1. Ask for your space: I had two fights with Michael this morning and yesterday regarding listening to me. After it was finished and he apologized, I apologized as well for yelling, and told him I needed a few minutes alone to calm down again. He went to get changed for school, and those five minutes apart did wonders.
  2. Keep your child’s routine similar: Even if they are not tired at the usual time, still do their routine. They know as do their bodies when it is bed time, and will slowly start to adjust to the new time.
  3. Keep them active: I took my son to the park yesterday even though it was getting dark. When they have a chance to run and move, that will help with anxiety and tire them out for an earlier bed time. It’s raining? Try a gym or fun center setting if they are not in after school care or day care.
  4. Offer massages: My two favorites for kids with sensory issues, (provided parents have been trained by an OT and Qigong Sensory Therapist), are Wilbargher Protocol and Qigong Sensory Massage Therapy. But what if you aren’t trained, or your child refuses these massages as my little guy now is doing? Try just rubbing or tapping gently on their back. This tapping or patting movement can calm the nervous system. My son asked me to drum gently on his back, and wow, did he ever come down from his hyper place. Always be gentle, and always follow your child’s cues of when to stop.
  5. Try to get enough sleep yourself: When you as a parent are getting at least seven hours of sleep a night, it makes a huge difference in helping you handle emotional challenges from your child and even from yourself. Even if you can’t sleep, try deep breathing, night meditating, or reading a book before bed.

Exceptional Parents, what tips do you have for surviving the first week of the time change intact? I’d love to hear from you. As with everything else, remember, trust your parenting gut. You know yourself and your child well. Until next time.

How are you and your special needs family handling the hour change and shorter days? If you are challenged by this, download my FREE EBOOK: “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” http://www.exceptionalparenting.net/EBOOKS