I don’t know about you…but when I cook, I don’t always follow a recipe. This type of experimental cooking reminds me of the trial and error that we have experienced over the last two years. We have come up with a blend of “ingredients” that has helped my son. I will say right up front that this is not a proven fix, but the combination of these items have made a real difference for our TBP. We are always adding or adjusting the recipe, but I am sharing this in hopes of helping others.
1. Predictable schedule (dinner, bedtime, errands, homework expectations) during the week and the weekend. If there is a change, we provide a reasonable amount of warning and try to allow for plenty of down time.
2. A Nanny instead of Before/After care during the week. It was too challenging to maintain acceptable behavior in a less-structured environment after already spending 7 1/2 hours in class. The nanny allows for predictability and a quieter environment.
3. Hunger and lack of sleep are both your enemy! Plan on an earlier bedtime than you would expect and provide lots of opportunity for healthy snacks. We never leave the house without snacks and have an emergency supply at school. My TBP prefers frequent smaller meals so we have learned to plan accordingly.
4. Gluten free diet makes a difference! I am not a doctor and I am not saying that this works for every twice-exceptional child, but for my son there is a noticeable difference. There is enough anecdotal evidence that the hotdog bun or cookie is just not worth it! We have found lots of fantastic products that makes this much easier…another post about that later!
5. Find out if your child has sensory integration issues (my TBP does) and develop an understanding of what type of “sensory diet” would be helpful. A couple of things that help my son: cutting out tags in clothes, wearing Under Armour shirts that are super snug as an undershirt, and selecting a variety of materials from the fabric store that can be felt as a way of calming down.
6. Ask for help from professionals! As part of our team, we have a family therapist, a neurologist, an occupational therapist, a parent educator, and an expert on gifted education. This doesn’t include the staff from his elementary school. Each one of these experts have provided us information, skills, and strategies that have made a huge difference!
7. Ask for help from family and friends! It is not your imagination…you are exhausted! It takes a lot of energy to parent a twice-exceptional child. If a friend or family member offers to give you a break, take them up on the offer! You need to be at your best to negotiate or keep your cool at the most challenging times.
8. Focus on the positives and successes because constantly working on the weaknesses can be overwhelming! Try to spend just as much time on your child’s strengths (chess, reading, writing, art, music) and find ways to encourage their many interests.