Another Halloween is officially under our belt. This year for the first time in a long while due to the rainy weather and difficulties meeting up with school friends because of traffic woes, Michael trick or treated alone with me supervising. It went very well. But the holiday started out differently weeks before when Michael announced this year that he didn’t want me to buy him an official costume. He wanted to partially make his costume this year. His idea? A traffic zombie, combining his favorite type of monster with his favorite activity, watching traffic. I looked for zombie costumes in many stores, but Michael was happy to find a scary mask at a local Dollarama and then found various traffic scenes across our city which he printed up online. We then found a stick which we referred to as his traffic staff and attached the various traffic scenes to the traffic, hence we had “Traffic Zombie.” So original. He did not want me to post a picture of him, but was proud of his costume.
Going out trick or treating with my big guy was interesting. After a few houses when the weather worsened, he did not mind turning back and coming home early. After all, he’d had a whole fun day of trick or treating and games at school for Halloween. But even with that, there was a maturity, a sureness in his step as he made the decision to go home. I enjoyed seeing him exercise his creative muscle and come up with a new costume idea. I enjoy watching the interesting young man he is becoming. He will say things that make me laugh, make me think about the world differently. Even when he is confused or frustrating me, I am seeing how he is learning to trust himself and go his own way. Halloween, like any holiday, is tough on neuro diverse kids. It’s great to see mine learning how to make it his own, be his quirky self, and be proud of the person he is. I sure am.
Exceptional Parents, how did you and your Exceptional Child fare this Halloween? Did your child feel pressure to be like everyone else or did you? Remember, the most important thing for any child is to let them be themselves no matter what. The message you are sending them is that they are amazing as they are. They don’t need to conform to other people’s expectations of who they are. They just need to be themselves. Hope you had a Happy Halloween! Until next time.
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:
- 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.
- Look into a winter camp for a few days: He may need some artificial structure before school particularly on a long break.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
I 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.