Writer, speaker and parent coach. I help coach parents to a happier and healthier place in their special needs parenting journey.
My name is Joanne Giacomini. I am a writer, speaker and parent coach, at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance,” www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. I also blog about how my son with autism is raising me at “Exceptional Mom/Exceptional Child,” www.exceptionalmomchild. com. I write regularly about parenting and autism at “Huff Post Parents Canada”, “M List by the Suburban,” and “Parenting 101” by the Suburban. I have also been featured on “BlogHer Family-Special Needs,” “Yummy Mummy Club Canada,” “Scary Mommy”, “Her View From Home”, “Romper”, “KidsOutAndAbout,” and many other publications. I write about parenting and lifestyle issues at “The Things,” “Baby Gaga and "The Talko."
I have a FREE EBOOK on "5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY" available at www.exceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS , and am working on a book about how my son with autism has changed my life, “5 Ways My Exceptional Child Has Made Me an Exceptional Human Being.” I offer four coaching programs to help parents find the tools they need to address challenges with their children, as well as to help empower them in their own parenting journey. You can follow me on Twitter @exceptmomchild.
Halloween is a fun time of year for most children. They love getting dressed up in costumes, going to parties, as well as going trick or treating where they get the best thing of all, candy! But for many children with autism this is a very difficult holiday. What can a parent do?
Our son used to have a really hard time with summer. It was so bad many years ago that I was scared that I would begin to hate summer, my most favorite time of the year. The solution for our family was gradually introducing my son to all the wonderful things summer could hold, but on his terms. This way he had control, and slowly our family started enjoying this time of year.
Well, it looks like we are at that time of year again, the Parent/Teacher Interview where you see how your child did over the course of the semester and where they are going next year. For parents of children with special needs, this can be both an exciting and terrifying visit. You hope they have improved, and if not so much, did you maybe do something wrong, did your child, did the teacher not reach them?
Blogging became my way to connect to other parents in a natural way, and connect as a writer and artist to something else on a deeper level, my creativity, and need to share my own learning and growth as a result of my son.
My child was not developing like other children. He was beautiful, happy, but separate from us somehow. I was scared. We still celebrated Mother's Day, of course. I was still overjoyed to be a mom, his mom, yet now I felt I was failing him. A year after that when we knew he had autism, our celebrations took on a new turn.
I know for my son, when Spring hits, so do more sensory challenges, particularly when the weather zigzags between hot, cold, rainy, humid etc. What's a parent to do grappling with regular spring fever, and not wanting to do homework combined with bigger sensory issues? Though it requires some minor tweaking each year, I have come up with 5 ways that help our family survive Spring Fever each year.
For a parent of a special needs child, many of us are faced with the challenges of a day when our children, many of whom don't like touch, affection or cannot understand the meaning, and wonder how to go about celebrating this day. What's a parent to do?
In those early days of my son's autism diagnosis, I had completely lost my parental instinct in "getting" my son. And then I did find those wonderful therapists and first teachers at my son's adapted preschool. The school showed me the way to getting my son the help he needed. When he started at his adapted preschool, the first thing his teachers taught me was how to enjoy playing with my son, not to "make him" talk, but to "engage him," to bring him into the world where he could see how much fun we could both have when he played with me.
There is still so much misinformation on mental illness in society, especially in the workforce and in schools, where young people and older adults are stigmatized as being unproductive, lazy or exaggerating their behavior, when really they are dealing with very real mental health issues, ADD, ADHD, Autism, Bipolar or other depressive disorders. These individuals need our help, not our judgment.
There is no need to think that, with autism and other anxiety related issues, my son cannot go on to do a job he loves, have friends and even live independently or semi-independently. It's all in how much he is encouraged and given opportunities to explore what he loves to do.
There are two main rooms in any family home, special needs or not, that have the most usage. Those rooms, for lack of glamour, are the kitchen and bathroom. Yes, I mention the bathroom, because it is a room that a lot of us spend time in, but when you are the parents of a special needs child, you need A LOT of time in the bathroom.
Let's say parents decide that it is time for that new mattress purchase for themselves, their child or both. It can be daunting or near impossible to go into a mattress store, any store, with their special needs child. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself about buying the perfect mattress for you or your child's sleep needs
Ah, that first visit to Santa. Remember how your little one cried and was scared, clinging to you? But you knew that this was temporary. Next year, he/she would be fine with the Santa visit, a rite of passage for most North American children today. But what if your child is not like all the other children?
Some children need smaller classes sizes, more one-on-one attention, or other services that more specialized or private schools can usually offer. For special needs children with all types of learning issues and challenges, the situation can become even more complicated.
Halloween is a magical night for parents and their children. There is no reason why special needs children can't have as much fun as their neuro-typical peers. They may just need a few tweaks in the tradition to make it a happy event for them and their families.
Watching my son take off at top speed down our small street yesterday filled me with a feeling of awe that I can't explain. You see, he struggles with gross motor skills a lot, though he does with fine motor skills. Lots of kids with autism do. And though he has always been interested in learning to ride a bike, it came slowly.
Thanksgiving used to be just another long holiday weekend for us dealing with my son being out of routine and having lots of behaviours. This was difficult for all of us. What has helped now as he has gotten older is talking about this holiday and what we will be doing that weekend.
By keeping our kids back from activities, we don't only do them harm by not exposing them to different experiences, we also deprive ourselves and the rest of our family from good, old-fashioned family fun. I used to be one of those overprotective parents when it came to my special needs son. Not anymore. I have to say that our adventures as a family have gotten better for the most part.
My son is one of those kids that doesn't like learning in school. His anxiety is way up about reading and math, and he wanted to stay home from school the other day. He is very smart, and when challenged in a fun way or in a way that engages him one-on-one, he will sit and learn. But it's hard to find that combination when teaching him in a classroom with other children.
These five tips can be taught to children and adults. At this time of year, as children and their parents are frazzled with back to school, multiple extra-curricular activity schedules and homework, I think this can be especially helpful. It can be a family's lifesaver in our ever increasingly fast-paced and stressful world.