Author: joannegiacomini

5 Ways To Know You’ve Found The Right Therapy Team For Your Exceptional Family

 

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From the very second Michael was diagnosed, I knew our lives had changed forever. At first, of course, like all new exceptional parents, I did not trust my own parenting instincts. I did not think I could parent my child, let alone find the right help for him to get him to communicate with us. I also was worried that I would not be able to pick the right therapy team for Michael. How could I when there was so much choice out there, good and bad, and how would I weed out the good from the bad? In those days I prayed hard to God to lead me to the right people. Those parents I spoke to later on who were not religious or spiritual also spoke of relying on something bigger than them in the universe that would lead them. And lead them (and me) this force, whatever you want to call it, did.

I was lucky to find the right adapted preschool for Michael, the right adapted school that he is flourishing in now, and in between, the right therapies, both private and public, that have made all the difference in Michael’s and our family life. Today after work as I made my way to see Michael’s educator, I felt very fortunate indeed to speak to her about Michael’s progress and difficult areas, to fill her in on our last visit to the psychiatrist and what was happening with his diabetes. I was happy to share the progress that he has been making thanks to a lot of her suggestions to us and him, and happy to know that even when talking about the rough parts, she would be armed with information to share the help Michael and us on our family journey. She is often full of great ideas, and will ask if I am familiar with a technique or behavioral intervention before she introduces it. She knows that I did training in ABA and work with special needs families, so am aware of many of the techniques used to help children on the spectrum and with ADHD.

What I love most of all, is the trust and respect she puts in me and Dad to parent Michael. That is the same trust I have encountered with previous therapists, Michael’s psychiatrist, and his school teams, both past and present. I have also hard resounding, “It’s a pleasure to work with you and your husband. You both want to learn and help Michael be all he can be.” A parent needs to hear this to have the courage to go on in tough times and on tough days. This is also want you want from your team, as the one thing I have learned from the beginning of Michael’s diagnosis is that the parent is the child’s best advocate and help. If we can’t guide the time,  no one can. After all, no one knows your child as best as you do.

When I can feel comfortable disclosing ANYTHING to therapists, and I can see and feel their admiration and pride in Michael and in his future possibilities, I also know I have found the right person or people to help us guide Michael to his full potential. Here are 5 things to look for to know you have found the right therapist or therapy team:

  1. The therapist respects your child for who they are.
  2. The therapist cooperates and suggests strategies that are in line with your family’s values system.
  3. The therapist is happy to give you “homework” or things that you can do with your child, alone with your partner and as a family to help your child grow and have the best possible outcomes.
  4. No one talks about your child being less than or bad. Your child’s brain works differently than yours and you and they need to find ways to connect halfway to have positive interactions.
  5. You feel better after working with them as does your child. You apply the techniques they suggest and many work.

Exceptional Parents, how did you go about picking your child’s therapy team? How happy are you with them? If the answer is not positive, it’s time to ask around for new people to add to your team. The best results and the happiest families come when they work with the right therapists, interventions and techniques that are right for their child and family. This is not a ‘one size fits all’ dynamic. There is sometimes much trial and error. The things to trust are your child’s reaction to the person and your own gut reaction. If it is positive, keep them on your team. If not, cross them off the family team and go back to the drawing board. You and your child will be much better off long term. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

 

Keeping The Emotional Bond and Handling The Distance Of Your Exceptional Child

So puberty has hit our household, and with it comes new demands and issues-hormonal and otherwise. Michael still needs my love and hugs, but I can see the times he is starting to pull away from me and Dad, in a healthy way. Then there is the not so healthy turning to friends and peer groups that offer the challenges of silliness, swearing and other “forbidden” at home topics. This is where I am still getting my feet wet as an exceptional mom, but getting there. I find myself asking the question Michael’s preschool teachers first told me to ask myself when he was three years old, “if he did not have any  challenges, would you dress him or have him learn to dress himself?” Now the question is at eleven years old, “if he did not have any challenges, would I be telling him who to hang around with or what not to say?” Of course, the answer to both questions is yes, I would be doing my best to teach Michael independence, and if he made a mistake with dressing or choosing the wrong crowd, step in and gently steer him in the right direction. I am lucky that he is still listening and values his bond with Dad and I.

Of course, he still needs to learn from mistakes. When he got in trouble at school for being silly with a friend and lost his recess by having to stand on the wall, he was very upset. He told me it was not fair. I told him that he was warned by the teacher on duty if he continued not listening the consequence would be no recess the next day. He had to pay that consequence for not heeding the warning. Yes, he has attentions issues and hyperactivity.  Yes, he has autism and some rigidity issues. But that is not an excuse to not follow the rules. At home as well, Dad and I are seeing a lot of “tween” rebellion. It is both exciting and stressful along with navigating other things. However, I have to think. He has to go through puberty with us, his neuro typical parents, who although can relate to some of his stressors, cannot truly know what is inside his head. We are all learning together. We are learning to continue confiding in each other, giving each other space, and forgiving one another when we make mistakes.

Exceptional Parents, how are you faring in puberty if you are at that stage? Is it harder than the delayed terrible two’s? Remember, your child is feeling things twice as intensely as you, so compassion is in order as well as patience with them and yourself. Treat your child as you would any child, while at the same time keeping in mind that some things may need to be tweaked or adapted in helping our kids understand their emotions more clearly. Until next time.

 

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

Seeing Your Exceptional Child Soar-How Your Belief In Them Causes A Ripple Effect

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It was the morning of Michael’s first non adapted art class on Saturday. He had wanted to take this class since last year, but I had been afraid. His aggression had peaked last year at home to new scarier levels. I also had spoken to the coordinator of the program who had gently suggested that it may be a good idea for me to either shadow him or wait in the room to see if I was needed the first class as she was not sure if she would have an assistant. If not, I could wait outside the class. I was so tired, physically and emotionally as a Mom, that I did not see myself as having energy to shadow. I also thought that what if Michael tried the class on his own, and due to his high anxiety and difficulty controlling his stress, was not able to do the class and became frustrated? For both our sakes, I told Michael we would talk about him taking this class when he started listening better at home. I wanted him to have success and felt in my gut that he was ready to try new things.

This spring, exactly one year later, thanks to a combination of good strategies, medication and maturity, Michael is in a better place emotionally at home and even at school. He is learning how to talk about his feelings and not “push down” his anger.  However, he was still incredibly scared to take this class alone, that is, without a shadow or me in the room. This year though, I knew he could do it and I could do it. That is, I could let go and trust him to handle it. I also realized I could remind him he had support at school. Michael spoke to his teacher and the school psychologist. Both encouraged him that he could face his fears on doing this class and succeeding, just like he had faced his fears in the past and succeeded. With lots of encouragement from them and additional from Dad and I, Michael tried his first “creating with clay” sculpture class last Saturday. The result? Success! I had told administration about his autism, and that I would be outside waiting for him should there be a need for assistance or any other problems. They had not informed the teacher or her assistant, but both had figured out that Michael was a little different. Both had embraced that difference, having had experience teaching children with autism and ADHD. Both had told me how calm, smart and polite he was. Yes, he needed a little extra assistance, but was very good at creating and loved art. They saw his promise and joy. They helped him soar!

During a bathroom break, the teacher came out to speak to me and tell me how well he was doing. You see, I had also been worried as the class was ninety minutes. Michael usually had a hard time with a sixty minute class, unless it was swimming as he was very active and had a difficult time sitting still in the past. His worries that it would be too long for him were unfounded for both of us though. The first words he spoke to me when I stepped inside to pick him up at the end of the class?

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“Mommy, I had such a good time! I could not believe how fast ninety minutes went!”

Tears threatened to pour down my cheeks as he proudly showed me his first work of clay which he would get to bring home in three weeks, then promptly hugged both the teacher and assistant telling them and me how he could not wait to go back to class next Saturday morning!

Timing. Timing sometimes is everything for our children and for us. I was not in the right frame of Mommy mind last year to believe in Michael. Frankly, I was having a hard time believing in myself as a Mommy to Michael too, though I knew I loved him and was not giving up on finding the right help for him. I asked other parents what worked and didn’t work for them. I read articles. I spoke to his school team, and finally made the call to get more help in our community for Michael, encouraged by supportive family members. All of this was happening as I was succeeding on the work front to help families. It was hard to live through, but I made it. Michael made it. And now life is not perfect, but we are finding the balance together. I always remember to tell Michael I believe he can do anything. This way my voice becomes his voice. Parents are their child’s best advocate until the child learns to become their own advocate.

Exceptional Parents, how do you help your Exceptional Children soar? I’m sure it’s by telling them that no matter what, you believe in their ability to do anything they set their mind to. Yes, sometimes the timing is off to try something. That is ok. That’s life. It’s important you remind them that when the time is right, you believe they can do it and then follow through. Remember, as their advocate, they believe what you do even more than what you say. Actions speak louder than words. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

Celebrating The Victories In Hard Times-5 Tips To Be A Happier Exceptional Family

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Things have been getting easier on many fronts in our family over the last two months, but that does not mean that there are not many hard moments that Michael has to navigate as an individual, and Dad and I have to navigate as his parents as well as all of us as a family. During those challenging hours and days, I now remind myself to look at all the little victories along the way, both Michael’s and ours. For example, we are all learning more about self-care, using strategies to control our more intense emotions, and by seeing the good things Michael does along with the positive things he has accomplished in the last six months, we are learning that we can control the outcome of what will be.

When Michael sees we believe in him, he believes more in himself. He has been disclosing a lot of the negative feelings he has been having quite honestly and maturely lately. When he has his outbursts and loses control, he is also reigning himself in more quickly and learning from his past mistakes.

I like to see how is asking us for help. He is even speaking to the school psychologist when something is bothering him now. Both myself and his classroom teacher have encouraged him to ask when he needs to talk about something stressing him out. It is never good to push emotions down. It is also important to be honest when we are angry, need a break, and need to cry. He is starting to handle all of these types of feelings honestly, and I am proud of him for that.

So the tips I can offer families on how to see the good moments in the hard times go as follows:

  1. Celebrate any progress your child has made.
  2. Celebrate the progress you as a parent have made in understanding your child.
  3. Celebrate how your child catches their mistakes and learns from them, even after the fact.
  4. Celebrate that the whole family can grow stronger, even from the painful moments.
  5. Celebrate how your child is opening your eyes up (and the world’s), to what they are capable of achieving.

Exceptional Parents, how many times have you felt down for them and you when your child has had a rough few weeks or months? I’m sure there have been good moments in there if you think back. It’s important to hang on to those good moments as proof of what your child is truly capable of. They have a wonderful spirit and gift that they will offer the world, if only they can be given the chance with the right tools to shine and be their best. It is up to us to remember to show them to shine their light. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

Who is This Child? How To Cope When Exceptional Children Reach Puberty

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I could not believe the words my eleven year old said. “Mommy, the kids say I smell, and I noticed  hair growing down there.” Of course, I had suspected as much from his behavior, taste in music, and interest in his peer group. But nothing had quite prepared me for my exceptional child hitting puberty this early! Friends have shared with me about their kids’ bodily changes as well as crushes on girls, but I naively thought, I have another year or two. I even joked with another friend, oh please, with challenging behaviors, diabetes, autism, and ADHD my hair will go white and I will completely lose it if puberty strikes now. Well, the joke is on me folks. Puberty is here and is intensifying. The weird thing is, my kid both needs and rejects me. Friends are important in the day, but at bedtime, Mom tuck me in, hug me, talk to me.  Hmm. I remember this from thirty some odd years ago, when I did the same with my parents. I was close to them, but so desperately trying to flee from their conventions. And I was a so-called “good girl.” 🙂

It is both exciting and terrifying to see Michael entering puberty so early. At least it feels early for me. I guess the next thing will be interest in girls, his body, or both. Oh boy. I’ll leave that one to Dad. 🙂 Though I am up for any honest discussion about love, intimacy and spirituality.  I have the benefit of several friends whose sons have entered this phase already sharing their knowledge with me, so I know we can laugh and talk about it. I am also glad that Michael is going through this phase as any child would. I just need to have the tools ready to help him address his questions and feel at ease. Just like a neuro typical child, not every child with autism experiences puberty in the same way. As parents, we need to respect that, be there for them, and give them room to breathe and be who they are. It is challenging for us as parents not to panic. I am glad we have medicinal and behavioral strategies in place to help Michael reach  his potential.

Michael also coaches us daily in what he needs to thrive- parents who are adventure seekers, open to trying new things, and accepting of him, difficulties and all. Dad and I are all those things. We struggle sometimes to understand who is this child? The child  that once listened to us the majority of the time with little incentive or rewards, now requires immense promise of rewards to comply. The child that once wanted us to play with him all the time and BE with him, now wants us there with him, but as an ends to a means. He is scared, help him. He needs to go somewhere, drive him. It is both comforting and disconcerting. He is growing up, but needs to learn strategies to manage, stress, anxiety and anger. Dad and I are working hard with his team to help him learn to handle all the changes happening. Dad and I are also working to handle our own emotions, take care of ourselves individually and as a couple, and help those around us. None of this is easy, but is important and so worth it in the end.

Exceptional Parents, have your Exceptional Children hit puberty yet? If they have, how are you handling it? If they have not, how do you think you will handle it? Remember, if you take care of yourself by staying calm, collected and in control, you will be setting the best example for your child. If they have, pace yourself. As long as you are able to keep your sense of humor and sympathy for the hard road ahead for them, (and you as their guides), you will continue to be their best cheerleader and advocate, teaching them to care for themselves as you care for yourself. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

Changing Your Mindset In Order To Understand Your Exceptional Child

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On days like today when I can literally see Michael’s brain in action with all his challenges and strengths, I thank God that I have amassed the knowledge I have in learning what I do know about his differences, and that I am still keeping an open mind learning about his other challenges. I also have continued to learn from all the different people on our team that help Michael be all he can be, particularly the new people on our team now.

It is so important that we as parents remember, even at their most challenging, our kids are not trying to be difficult. They see the world differently, and don’t always know what is right and wrong. And even when they do, most of the time self-regulation is so challenging. That is why it is important to help them find the best combination of therapy, stimulation at home, and educational environment that brings out their best. It is also important that we keep learning as their parents about patience with them and patience with ourselves. We can never forget that they will be as successful as they can with our encouragement.

There are days when I just shake my head at how could my kid not get that. He is so smart. Other days it is obvious why he is struggling and my heart breaks for him. The trick is reconciling those two selves and know that at any given time your child is doing their best to cope. This does not mean you let them get away with negative behavior, but you remember that unless they have positive reinforcement, good tools in place, and unconditional love from you, they will struggle even more. As parents, we need to remember that we all learn differently, and to respect our child’s own form of learning, exceptional or not. We also need to adjust our ways of thinking to the way they see the world. This will help us see more of what they need, and less of what they don’t.

Exceptional Parents, do you truly understand your Exceptional Child’s different brain? If not, it’s alright. It’s never too late to join them in how they see the world, whether by reading articles, talking to therapists, other parents, but most importantly, by watching what interests and lights your child up. This is the key to getting in to helping them with the right combination of initiatives to be all they can be. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

Riding The Highs And Lows Of Exceptional Parenthood

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My life is not boring. This is my opening joke to most people I meet if  I hear them complain they are bored and that life is not exciting. I will add for effect, “Oh my life is exciting. I never know what curve ball my son is going to throw at me next.” Sometimes this is meant to be funny, sometimes not. Regardless, in all moments I love Michael very much. I also remind myself that life is not boring for him and is exciting, sometimes overly exciting. His nervous system can go into warp speed sometimes, and at other times he regulates well. It makes for quite the family life.

Today was a calm morning, afternoon and I was told evening. I was out at my weekly writing workshop, and though Michael was up waiting for me when I came home, he did reasonably well with Dad. I was happy to hear this. Every victory is celebrated, particularly as there has been lots of tension between the two lately. Michael also realized today when his energy and silliness was through the roof, that rather than lose his reward, he would self-regulate by going out in the yard and playing soccer. I was so proud he recognized what he had to do. There was also a healthy use of deep breathing to handle anger when he got upset. This is excellent as there have been other days when things did not go well and self-regulation only happened AFTER an aggressive act.

Dad and I are also learning to use our strategies to handle our highs and lows living as exceptional parents. My writing workshops, workouts,  and outings with friends are my respites and ways to recharge so that I can keep my anger, fear and frustration in check. These things help me ride out the tough moments as a Mom when I want to run for the hills and not look back. I am realizing how important self-care is every day, as well as having a sense of humor, especially when times are rough. It does not mean laughing at your child or situation, but it means seeing the joy in the beautiful moments when they use their strategies, open up about their feelings, hug you, and share their dreams. It also means enjoying the beauty of a sunrise, the quiet pitter patter of rain falling, the purring cat at your feet, or a wonderful song on the radio.

Some days it is all too much. I worry, am I doing enough as Michael’s Mom to give him opportunities to socialize, learn, laugh, move? What therapies does he really need and which ones can we wait on? Finally I worry, will I make it on this rocky road to see him to adulthood and not lose my sense of humor, sense of self, and also importantly, my belief in what he is capable of? Some days are so hard. One day many many years ago when Michael first started having aggressive behaviors and the tools that worked did not work any longer, I shared with my mother how frustrated and scared I was.  I said, “I can’t do this anymore. He needs another mother.” She sympathized, but reminded me he was my son and I could not stop fighting for him. I realized she had misunderstood my worry. I then clarified. I was scared I was the wrong Mom for Michael. I told her he needed a Mom who was patient, calm, strong. I was anxious. I lost my temper and patience. She said that every Mom got angry, lost patience and was anxious. She said I was strong, stronger than I knew. I had believe in me and my love for him. She was right. I prayed many times to God then, and since then, to give me the strength to continue fighting the good fight. I also pray now that I continue to learn ways to take care of me so that I can remain strong, positive and tell Michael that I will always be there for him, no matter what.

So I’ve realized that the way to survive the tough days and coast through the easy ones are the same. Take care of myself by doing the things that fill me with joy. This will help me encourage Michael to find the things that fill him with joy. He has lost so much happiness over the course of the last two years. Puberty, Type 1 Diabetes and more complex anxieties and attention issues have caused his self-esteem to plummet. He is questioning his religious beliefs, friendships and his father’s and my love. We are telling him daily that he is smart, loved, and that we all believe in him. Seeing us, his parents, doing the things that we love, is helping him find the road back to doing the things he used to love and finding new loves.

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Even on the days when harsh words and actions occur, I can honestly say to myself Michael’s potential for greatness is there and is growing. It is painful that he could lose his future if troublesome behaviors are not under control. Dad and I worry if we are doing enough to get him back on the right track. Judging by the progression that is happening though, I think he and we are well on our way to living life a little easier among the chaos of exceptional family life.

Exceptional Parents, how do you ride out the highs and lows of your exceptional family life? Just remember, self-care for you goes a long way to giving you strength to be there for your child in every way. Also, even at their most difficult, always see the child behind the behavior. That is who is trying to come out and needs your help to grapple with fear, anger and uncertainty. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

How Being Patient With Your Child Starts With Being Patient With Yourself

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It was a mixed bag of a weekend. Lots of anxiety, hyperactivity with a few doses of aggression and finishing off with amazing feats. Michael cooking more amazing dishes. Michael rocking swimming class. Michael chatting on a the phone with a friend sounding like a typical 11 year old- calm, in control, friendly, caring. Wow! It made me feel overwhelmed, grateful and stressed all at once. Then I had to face the fact. How patient was I being with Michael’s moods? How patient was I being with my own? When was the last time I exercised? When was the last time I went for a walk and took real solid alone time, in a bath, to read, or to just be? Yes, I meditate. I write. I do take baths from time to time. But just being patient when I am unraveling is something that I am having a hard time with. And unraveling with my child has been something that has been happening a lot to me. I hold it together with everyone else. I hold it together everywhere else. But like Michael, ironically I push down my emotions sometimes I think. I push down my Mom fears of not doing enough to help control his blood sugars, not doing enough to enhance his love of music and sports, not doing enough therapy. I feel like I am failing him when he is aggressive, anxious and distant. I know deep down it is not me, but Mommy guilt gets me every time. I thought I had her beat, but she is there lurking, waiting to claim me. I have been blowing up so much at Michael lately. Yes, he has been pushing my buttons to get me angry, but I have long ago forgotten to go to my “happy place,” as a friend of mine coined it. I am working hard to get back there.

Today I did a Zumba workout. The other day I went out to a cafe to work on my fiction novel. I am getting back to self-love, self-care, and working my way back to being patient with me, with my process. After all, if you can’t love yourself, how can you love anyone else truly, even your child? Yes, we love our children all of us, but unless we are learning to be patient with our own anger, anxieties and fears, we will always have a hard time guiding our children. Once again, I found myself remembering the words “this is happening for you, not to you.” I realized that the pain and anguish I am suffering through watching Michael suffer and stress, is reminding me to take care of me and grow strong, as I see Michael growing stronger by battling his demons. He is one incredible kid. As his psychiatrist reminded us, how can we expect him to control himself if we lose it? So true. And though losing it happens only after A LOT of stress, I am starting to see that if I am patient and loving with myself from the beginning, I will be able to handle Michael’s stress a lot better too. No more Mommy guilt for this Mom! I am doing the best that I can for both of us to move forward and be happy and healthy.

Exceptional Parents, how patient are you with your Exceptional Child? It usually is directly related to how patient you are with yourself and your weaknesses. Be gentle with yourselves Moms and Dads. You are fragile just like your child. You are scared for them, yet want to equip them for the world. You are tired, resourceful, resentful and advocates all in one. There is no one who loves your child more nor who ever will than you. So the first gift you can give your child is being patient with yourself. Once you have achieved that, be patient with them.  Then you can follow their lead in letting them show you the life they want to live and is possible. At this point, the two of you will be guiding each other. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

 

When Exceptional Couples Fight- What NOT To Say

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Marriage is hard work. Marriage with an Exceptional Child or Children is that much harder. Couples will disagree at times and fight about parenting decisions, but the worst thing to do is fight in front of your child. I am guilty of this as I feel like a referee sometimes between Michael and his Dad when they fight. I don’t want to be the peacekeeper between them. I want them to work it out, and I am in the process of learning new ways to extract myself from this position. Dad is more patient than I am in some ways, but blows his top in others. Michael does not benefit from either one of these styles, and we are trying to adjust our parenting styles and meet halfway. We also want to make our marriage grow and become stronger.

Friday nights seem to be the toughest. Everyone is tired after a long week, and one little change or extension in the bedtime routine or sometimes just Michael’s total need to control everything and the evening takes on a stressful turn.  What can parents do? The question then becomes what NOT to do and you’ll know what to do. Here are some suggestions of what NOT to do when disagreeing about parenting decisions:

  1. Don’t fight in front of the kids: Yes, we all know this, but sometimes those of us who are a little hot headed will blow up. Guilty as charged. Ask for forgiveness, check in to see if you are following better self-care routines, (could use improvement in my case), and sometimes see if you can go for single counselling.
  2. Don’t say “I told you so”: So many of us have done this either out loud or by our actions. It’s not helpful. If you make a mistake, own it and apologize when the time is right. If your partner does, give them the same courtesy.
  3. Don’t make your partner feel worse: It is tempting to say things like “you are never there for me”, “I feel so alone,” “you are not the only one with problems,” but this will only create more animosity. Start with being honest with your partner when you have both calmed down. That means “I’m sorry,” followed by an “I love you,” then “Do you need a parenting break?” “How can I help?” We all make mistakes.  Both partners need to do this.  And remember, we all make mistakes. It’s if you keep making the same ones that you need to ask yourself where you are going wrong.
  4. Don’t sacrifice personal time: One thing I used to do when there was friction between Dad and Michael, me and Michael or me and Dad was NOT take time for me. After all, I did not deserve it OR would feel bad that my boys would fall apart without me there. Now, I know better. Just like your job can manage without you for a day, so can your family. Always take time to recharge your batteries.
  5. Don’t think therapy can’t help: So many of us discount therapy thinking it cannot help us individually or in our relationships, but therapy is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your partner. I have gone for therapy in the past and if I need to go again for me I will not hesitate. I also think couples therapy is wonderful as long as the two people have done their individual homework and can move forward from there.

Exceptional Parents, how many of you have your NOT DO”s to share with the rest of the Exceptional Parenting Community? What have you learned and what are you still learning? In the end, don’t be afraid to learn from your mistakes and move forward as an individual first, then as a couple. Your child will look to the two of you as a united front if you do this. This will help them with their confidence as well, and the whole family will become happier and healthier. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

 

 

 

Being in the Hot Seat As Exceptional Families

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Have you ever had a parenting moment when you felt so many emotions at once- frustration, tiredness, sadness and embarrassment? Well, I did tonight. It was one of those nights that I was worried about altering Michael’s schedule slightly, but still did. I knew that altering the schedule along with blood sugar that was still on the high side with his diabetes, may make for a difficult evening, but I figured I was up to it. I was, but only to a certain extent. Though I held it together relatively well, at one point I became so angry that Michael was not listening and being disruptive, that I almost abandoned ship. I stopped myself though, and realized that though Michael was to blame for his actions, I was also responsible for not keeping to the usual routine. As well, I was responsible for not remembering Michael’s challenges in listening, self-regulating and being responsible for controlling his physical and emotional reactions to people and events around him.

You see, part of the “different brain” our kids have makes it harder to process information, feelings, and control reactions. When they are in the “hot seat” it is so much harder to control themselves.  I of course don’t let Michael get away with his Autism, ADHD and diabetes as excuses for losing control and I have told him as much. In fact, earlier today I reminded him that though I know it is hard for him to control his temper sometimes and Dad and I know this due to his challenges (our family has no secrets), it does not mean he gets a free pass in not being disruptive or aggressive. However, even though I know this, sometimes in the heat of the moment I forget this. I am in the “hot seat” as the parent of a child who is impulsive, anxious and rigid. I feel judged, even if it is only by me. I also feel that his poor dealing with his feelings is due to my badly structuring  the day or evening. I know this is not fully the case, but it still happens from time to time when I am tired and not giving myself enough time to regenerate my batteries.

I am getting better at seeing myself for who I truly am as a Mom though- patient, loving, forgiving, but someone that sometimes feels burned out so will have some meltdowns herself. I have learned that if I am feeling that way more days of the week than not, it is time to get out alone pronto. Sometimes for a walk, a drive or even alone in the house with a book.  I am not that way as a coach. There I am Joanne-calm, in control, knowing what to do next in most cases, and when in doubt, pausing and staying calm to figure it out. It is easier without the blood, emotions, and genes mixed in there to make you feel, what the heck pattern did I do to make this worse. When parents and kids are in the ‘hot seat’ we get so attached to our own feelings of anger, exhaustion and frustration, that we are not able to see our child’s or they their parent’s viewpoint. Unless we stop to give ourselves credit for what we are doing right and get ourselves the necessary support for the things we are doing wrong or need help with, we will remain stuck and chances are, so will our child. Living life as an Exceptional Family is exhausting for all concerned, but with the right perspective, attitude and adjustment, all members will come out winners in the end.

Exceptional Parents, how do you juggle being in “the hot seat?” How do you see your child when they are in “the hot seat?” Remember, it is human to make mistakes, both for you and for your child. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. Learn from the errors by letting in others that have life experience and have gone down this path before. You and your child will be the better for it. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.