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#1 of 24 Old 08-31-2014, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Parenting Quirky Kids

Hi-- let me begin by saying I'm not exactly sure where to post this but I thought there'd be quite a bit of overlap between special needs/gifted/childhood forum readers here.

My DD1 will be 5 in January and she has some quirks. She is incredibly bright in some areas (she has A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh anthology memorized, verbatim, comlpete with character voices, a cute obsession with Abraham Lincoln) and seriously frustrating in other areas (can't put her shoes on the correct foot, even with prompting; while not delayed in motor skills she is no where near her peers physically). She has so-so social skills, but great imitative/observation skills so she does pretty OK when with other kids. They seem to like her but it is obvious neither "gets" one another. She is horrible at reading social cues and she cannot keep her voice down to save her life. She's also very senstivite to any type of tension (in movies, books, or actual life) and has separation anxiety still.

So, all that leads to my question: how do I know when she's just being "quirky" versus when she's just being 4, versus when she needs correction/instruction?

How do you parent with and through your own childs quirks? Thanks in advance for answering!
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#2 of 24 Old 08-31-2014, 12:27 PM
 
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Subbing as my DD has some of the same stuff going on
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#3 of 24 Old 09-01-2014, 01:34 PM
 
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She is horrible at reading social cues and she cannot keep her voice down to save her life. She's also very senstivite to any type of tension (in movies, books, or actual life) and has separation anxiety still.

So, all that leads to my question: how do I know when she's just being "quirky" versus when she's just being 4, versus when she needs correction/instruction?
I have a DD who is both gifted and on the autism spectrum, and I'm currently working on my special education teaching certification.

I think your DD needs direct instruction on social cues. There is a parenting belief that kids will just pick up stuff when they are ready, and sometimes they do. Sometimes, some kids don't. There's nothing wrong with directly teaching kids things they need to be taught. It doesn't mean they have special needs. It means they can't figure it out by themselves.

I think the line for special needs is when they don't learn through basic, repeated instruction from their parents/teachers and it *interferes with their life to a significant degree.*

I think that 4 is very young to worry about tension in movies and books.

How extreme is her separation anxiety? Who is she OK with (dad, grandma, one of your friends, etc)? Does she participate in activities that you don't stay for?

As far as shoes, does she seem to be right or left hand dominate? My though is to clearly mark the shoe for the dominant side (such as a big red R made with sharpie on the inside of the shoe) and teach her to put that one on first. You can scaffold skills until she is ready to do them without the hints.

I'm not sure there is a difference between "quirks" and "needs extra instruction." If a child isn't catching onto something that most kids their age in their culture can do, then they need more instruction/support with that skill. Blowing it off as a "quirk" isn't helpful to them. None the less, I like the work "quirky" and use it to describe my DD, but it doesn't stop me from continually teaching her new skills.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#4 of 24 Old 09-02-2014, 11:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for replying, Linda. I'm a special educator myself and didn't think it would be helpful to list the modes of instruction/reinforcement/and applications I've used to assisit my daughter in acquiring new age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate skills. As far as blowing off things as quirks...well.. I think the fact that I am pursuing advice shows that I am not one to "blow things off." I also don't worry about her-- I just notice that she is quite different from other kiddos and I was seeking parenting insight because I have a hard time reading when she is genuinely unable to do something, or after repeated instruction if she is choosing to ignore me. I'm seeking other opinions/stories about how other parents may have struggled applying discipline or extending grace based on their individual child's quirks, and what works or does not work for them, as parents, rather than seeking explicit help with my daughter. Best wishes to you!
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#5 of 24 Old 09-02-2014, 02:11 PM
 
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I have a hard time reading when she is genuinely unable to do something, or after repeated instruction if she is choosing to ignore me. I'm seeking other opinions/stories about how other parents may have struggled applying discipline or extending grace based on their individual child's quirks,
I think it sounds like she genuinely is unable to connect with peers at this time.

I have never "applied discipline" in situations similar to what you describe. I don't see social delays or delayed self help skills as discipline issues.

"Applying grace" is an odd phrase and not one that I use. What do you mean?

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#6 of 24 Old 09-02-2014, 02:38 PM
 
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It's a constant conversation with my partner about both our kids (DD 7, ADHD/gifted, DS 6 no official diagnosis of anything but a challenging and probably gifted kid). We have sought help for my daughter in various ways multiple times, my son once. It's all for stuff that we worry is affecting or will affect their function. I don't imagine there's a hard and fast rule, but if we identify or suspect a problem and either we can't come up with a good plan or our good plan doesn't work, we ask for help. We use the school's expectations and the behavior of their peers as benchmarks. I think of my son's unsolicited intense interest in chess at a really young age and making up words as "quirky," but not his difficulty with transitions and defiance. I don't know what a parent can do other than observe lots of kids (sounds like you would anyway) and talk with people whose opinions you trust about specific areas.

I am in the medical field (nothing to do with kids). For my state license I had to swear I would not treat myself or immediate family members. It's related to that saying among doctors, "Only a fool has himself for a patient." Please don't think I'm implying that you are a "fool" - the language of that adage is quite strong - but overall it makes a lot of sense. It's really hard to evaluate someone with whom you are intimately connected in as objective a way as you would evaluate a normal patient/student. Of course, doctors can't turn off their professional knowledge around family, and you are always going to be a parent who knows much more than average about special needs kids, but remember you can be both blinded and made hypersensitive by love.

It sounds like you have noticed flags. If you are wondering if you should get her evaluated, then that wondering itself seems like enough reason to do it.
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#7 of 24 Old 09-02-2014, 02:57 PM
 
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My 6 year old is highly asynchronous. We are home schoolers, so this presents less of a day to day problem for us.

Despite opting out of the public school system (I used to teach high school) I am a huge fan of diagnostic tests. (I'm just not as big on final evaluation tests. ) I am someone who does well with knowing, "Ah. We are having issues that can be described by foo label and that means I should go buy books about foo."

I don't worry about getting the shoes on the right feet. (Around six she is getting better and she does it wrong less often.) I don't worry about her having awkward social interactions sometimes. That is part of learning. When I see her misperceiving something (She is crummy at respecting other peoples right to have 'personal space') and I think someone else is getting upset... then I intervene. Up until that point I figure it is better for her to have the lived experience of dealing with the results of her behavior.

She listens to me better the second time when I can say, "Huh. This looks kind of like what happened with Alice."

Some people are sensitive. There is a book called Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight that you may find interesting.
http://www.amazon.com/Loud-Bright-Fast-Tight-Overstimulating/dp/0060932929 http://www.amazon.com/Loud-Bright-Fast-Tight-Overstimulating/dp/0060932929

I'm *really* sensitive and particular about a lot of things so I find it easy to have patience with my kids when they hit a sore spot. I wish someone had been patient with me so I pass it on.

Before I taught high school I tried out elementary and middle school. Despite these semi-traumatizing experiences (I kid. Sorta.) I don't feel like I'm great at understanding developmental stages. There is a wonderful series by Louise Bates Ames (
Here is the 5 year old book Here is the 5 year old book
) to hopefully give you something to look forward to. I found five really awesome. Four was *hard*.

Six has been kinda rough again. My kids follow the patterns in this book series so much it is like there is a video camera in the house. These books help me figure out which behaviors deserve correction and which should be ignored. She is very explicit about which is which and she is fairly gentle in her discipline recommendations. She is mostly against spanking which is almost hard-line enough for me.

It can be hard to see which personality traits will help them be highly successful (perseverance! lying!) and we need to kind of tolerate them. (Studies show that the better you are at lying at 2 years old the more successful you will be later in life.) Whereas some anti-social behavior things are best dealt with early and swiftly and... I suck at telling which is which.

Parenting is hard! Darn it!
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#8 of 24 Old 09-02-2014, 06:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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@Letitia , yes to it being hard to evaluate! If you have a hammer...everything is a nail. I see some areas of interest to me in her, but they don't "feel" like a special need, if that makes sense. I am no longer in a classroom (SAHM now) but it was easy to spot ability/developmental stage/personality and address it correctly in a professional setting. At home, it is a different story altogether because I remember when XYZ happened one time six month ago (for example). History can cloud my judgement when I am in the here-and-now. I think if some of her quirks persist into the elementary years, it may be worth having her evaluated. I was comforted by your comment that this topic is of discussion between you and your partner. As a parent I want to be sensitive to her needs, accepting of who she is as a person, yet challenge her and equip her with the skills I can to help her lead a successful and joyful life.
@rightkindofme , thank you! I really appreciate your response and I will look into those recommended books. I need exactly what you said-- help deciding which things to over-look and which things need to be addressed. We homeschool as well and it gives her lots of freedom to be herself and her other activities give lots of time to form friendships with smae-aged peers. I like your perspective about evaluating to use as a tool for yourself so you can better meet their needs.

Again, I want to reiterate that I posted this here because she is not exacty typical, and I thought readers of this forum would have lots of ideas for any type of child that is atypical and how they rise to the challenge as parents. I really appreciate the feedback so far.
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#9 of 24 Old 09-03-2014, 04:59 AM
 
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Ds1 is a very quirky child and four was the hardest age. There was trouble at home and In preschool, explosions, rigidity, anxiety, tics and stims, violence, issues with personal space, the lot... we finally had him formally evaluated for ASD when a psychiatrist all but diagnosed him after a two hour consultation, but it turned out he was nowhere near the cutoff.
While that was a load off our minds, the fact remained that he had all these difficulties which, at the time, made him as hard to handle as if he had been, and while the center that had him evaluated tried valiantly to find out what we were doing wrong to cause all this in subsequent consultations, cluelessness was written all over their final report.

So at least we had the developmental testing that showed he was wildly asynchronous, scores all over the map (which they interpreted as "average results" in the final report, something that made me roll my eyes even then because it was clear he'd scored clearly below average in some socio emotional and motor subtests and way above in all cognitive subtests). We sort of settled on "most likely gifted and quirky" then, and did what I'd call in hindsight the functional approach: if it looks like ASD stuff, ASD methods must help, and they did. If it seemed it was asynchronicity, giftedness, high sensitivity, sensory deficits, whatever I looked for help under that label.

Relaxing on my part helped, explaining to the concerned preschool staff about asynchronous development helped (luckily, they sort of got it, they knew and recognized his strengths and could imagine why he had a hard time with his weaknesses), sensory intervention helped, dietary intervention helped (high fat high protein low carb to level out blood sugar, calming fish oil, magnesium and zinc supplements), direct teaching of social skills helped. So did maturity and entering the more structured and cognitively more engaging environment of school early.

I would not enter into the dichotomy of "there's quirks she can't help, and there's discipline issues she could if she would".
If behaviour is impeding function, or impacting others (including family) she needs to learn better skills, and you can still extend grace by being patient and understanding even while remaining firm.

We have had an eye opener ourselves recently by understanding that ds1's level of giftedness is much higher than even we his parents originally thought, and that his ASD looking traits result from this extreme deviation from the norm - he's just not neurotypical, but not in a way that fits a label like ASD or ADHD. It has helped me understand better and be more understanding, but still I have to remind myself that he needs to function in a world that isn't, and be able to be kind and understanding toward others.
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#10 of 24 Old 09-03-2014, 05:12 AM
 
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When I'm talking about stuff to address or not to address I mean things across a wide spectrum. It was very useful for me to read a book that said "At blah stage child will want to dump everything out. This will be THE BEST THING EVER." That way I didn't feel like the kid was "making a mess". That changed my mindset dramatically. It was really useful to specifically read that.

My daughter developed an eye tic. It was SUPER USEFUL for me to read that I shouldn't comment on it because that can exacerbate the condition and make it stretch out for years. (I did talk to her doctor about it.) It's a phase some kids experience. I had no idea.

I do not handle a 2 year old hitting exactly the same way I handle a 6 year old hitting. My change in response is largely motivated by the fact that additional development changes how much "responsibility" you have for things. At 2, I don't even bother with a time out. I shadow kids and physically prevent the hitting and use simple words about gentle touching and being loving. By 6 you get sent to your room for 6 minutes and a stern talking to about the potential outcomes of hitting. It changes and I had trouble figuring out how to change and when without help.

I am so grateful for books.
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#11 of 24 Old 09-03-2014, 08:05 AM
 
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I can relate. I've been thinking about this since I saw your post a few days ago. I suppose its been difficult to reply since I'm still working to figure this out myself.

My ds is 8. A very bright boy with what I would call typical quirks of an engineer - a little socially off but he doesn't mind/notice that about himself. We do work on social stuff but it is hard to know how much to do because the kid really doesn't care! Right now I'm focusing on learning the names of his new classmates. About 3/7 days he comes out of his room with some article of clothing on backwards. I correct this because I'm concerned his peers would make fun of him at school. My ds does have anxiety and he is in counseling to work on that. He is also extremely sensitive to tension in books or shows but not as much in real life. Because in real life he isn't paying attention I guess? Or maybe because he can retreat in life? Either way he will often ask me to read ahead to make sure everything is okay and sometimes he even chooses to stop reading/watching because it is too much for him.

Another thing I really struggle with is extracurricular activities. He genuinely wants to participate but a full day of school maxes him out. His sister could be in an extra 5 days a week. So if I allow her to go to the level she wants he is asking why he isn't doing extras. Even though when it comes to it he can't handle it and would rather play alone or read.
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#12 of 24 Old 09-03-2014, 08:36 AM
 
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Hi there. My son is very quirky and this has never been outgrown. We just work it into our life. The closest they have come to a diagnosis is impulsive-type ADHD, which doesn't really make sense since he is very docile, rule oriented, quiet and studious. He's the least hyper kid ever other than yelling sometimes out of nowhere when he finds something funny. But he does say these weird out-of-context things and very socially awkward to say the least! Having a normal back-and-forth conversation takes coaching. He says things socially out of context too. But he's in gifted math, has a few friends and I am starting to think that it's just some unnamed thing that behavioral therapy can help. I have certain techniques that I use with him, like "Julian, let's think about that response. Can you think of a response that's an answer to the question?" or "If I say...XYZ....what would be a related response?" Still, he is misunderstood by many, but I honestly don't care. He is so brilliant , beautiful and innocent. His therapist gave me some great advice: People may not understand your child, but you do, and as long as he knows you understand and will help him everything will be fine.
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#13 of 24 Old 09-03-2014, 09:49 AM
 
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I just have to say that I *LOVE* how this thread is turning out. You ladies are such a blessing. xoxoxo
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#14 of 24 Old 09-03-2014, 10:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I really appreciate all this feedback and you've all given great things for me to consider. I also like how this thread is going, though I was a bit discouraged at first. Staying patient is very difficult when I've asked her to use an inside voice for the umptenth time and she woke up the baby and I don't know if it is because she CAN'T or because she WON'T. I will apply your advice about not entering into an either/or scenario in my mind between being firm and understanding/gracious with her.

Hearing your examples of development of your own children is helpful, too, because I find myself thinking, "You can recognize all the Romantic composers at 4, but your panties are on backwards and you can't turn the doorknob..." I guess I had expected her development to be more or less parallel instead of really advanced here, a little slow there, etc... without realizing these were my expectations/assumptions. Whoops.

This is the very reason I joined MDC: to be encouraged and offer encouragement to others, get advice/feedback when things are too confusing for me to sort out myself. I lack "the village" so to speak, so these forums have been really helpful. We don't all have to be in the exact same boat to understand and to offer support to others. Thanks so much for what has been shared so far!
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#15 of 24 Old 09-04-2014, 05:40 PM
 
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We've got quirky kiddos in our house and one that sounds very similar to OP DD. She can quote long monologues out of her books, repeat conversations from days ago, strategize and play a good game of chess, read since she was very very young...but just learned to put shoes with correct feet & ride a bike last year (7).

Noise sensitivities: We kind of go with 'what makes you comfortable.' and that is OK. Explanations that everyone likes/dislikes a variety of things and notices/feels/experiences things differently is a constant conversation. For mandatory 'noisy', such as dentist, crowds, etc we offered her options (noise canceling headphones, distracting music, etc). For other things, such as movies or fairs-- we just go with her comfort level. Which still at 8, is 'no thank you, it hurts my ears.'.

Tension: Again, we go with comfort. It is OK in our house to not watch TV, read certain books, or listen to music that makes you feel uncomfortable. After some discussion, this also applies to school. If it is something needed, such as a book for school. We accommodate by finding something else that works (excusing her from that activity, reading the book vs movie, watching the movie with closed caption so she can read vs listening to tense sounds, etc). It has worked well as well. Very empowering for her to be able to advocate for herself, we started this at late 3/early 4.

Social Cues: practice, practice, and observe/discuss!! We do a lot of social acting, social stories, and IF....THEN. It helps to actively teach those cues and practice them. We also discuss emotions and what they look and sound like.

3 and 4 were a bit hairy for us with some improvements from 5-7 and again at 8, the social realm and developmental interests of peers have again made it a bit of a mismatch.

We, too, had some asynchronous gross & fine motor. We did some OT & PT from 2-4 and have been revisiting that OT for handwriting may be needed. Actually, after lots of attempts to improve running, jumping, stamina, etc....swimming and dance have done more for her than anything else!


As for quirks--- we constantly talk that everyone is different and different is just fine. We address quirks as concerns when they seem to distress her and/or cause concern with daily living (we did therapudic listening program when noises bothered her so much that it made going out in public difficult and did PT when she expressed frustration at not being able to ride a trike/bike).
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#16 of 24 Old 09-04-2014, 08:39 PM
 
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Oh, so many quirks in our house too.
When we went to the paediatrician a few years ago (DD was about 2.5yo then), he said, "Okay, so she's atypical, but she's also two years old. Let's keep an eye on our girl, and see what happens."
We went back to him every six months after that, for her tics, her anxiety, her sensory stuff.
When she was preschool-age, he started to say, "Okay, so now we will watch these behaviours; the tics, the anxiety, the sensory-seeking, and we'll think about a plan should they persist."

But because we didn't put her in preschool, it didn't matter as much as it might've had she been stressed and pushed to do preschool. For example, there is no way she would've let us leave her there. Not a chance. And she couldn't have functioned in that environment, full stop.
It was by comparing our child to other, more typical kids, that we really began to understand just how atypical and quirky she was.

And then her giftedness started to come into play too, such as reading early, and excelling at formal math, and pursuing her interests in science full force (reading books about Louis Pasteur at age four), which some might've seen as something to celebrate, but it made our hearts heavy because it just set her apart YET AGAIN, from her much more typical peers.

So, fast forward to our last visit to the paediatrician, who said this time, "Now we know that she is not going to immediately grow out of these things, and perhaps we need to reach out for supports for the things that are going to cause her pain and struggle, such as the tics and the sensory-seeking behaviours that disrupt her daily life."

And so we're waiting for a neuro-psych appointment at Children's Hospital, to deal with the tics first and foremost, and the SPD stuff secondarily.

All this to say that our ped is very un-alarmist, and I really appreciated his approach. He often says that quirky children grow up to be very accomplished and interesting adults, and that when our quirky children get to adolescence, they often grow out of the more disruptive quirks, and/or figure out ways to mask them to better take part in society.

As for what we work on with DD; we coach her on personal-space issues and physical boundaries, we've been steadily and doggedly working on her sleeping in her own room, we give her something she CAN chew on instead of her shirt or her fingers, we are constantly working on her volume (always LOUD), and we actively practice calming techniques with her.

We don't make her wear anything that she doesn't want to, we keep her social obligations to an absolute minimum, we don't have any scheduled classes or groups -- in fact, we homeschool -- we let her spend hours and hours doing her own thing, we don't bring any attention to her tics. I do explain when people notice her differences, but only enough so that they can empathize with her, and not give her pity, or think that I'm excusing her behaviours.

I consider myself her one-on-one worker as well as her biggest fan. I cherish her uniqueness as often as I worry that it sets her too far apart. But I also know that she will grow out of a lot of the things that I worry about now.

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#17 of 24 Old 09-05-2014, 10:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, so many quirks in our house too.
When we went to the paediatrician a few years ago (DD was about 2.5yo then), he said, "Okay, so she's atypical, but she's also two years old. Let's keep an eye on our girl, and see what happens."
We went back to him every six months after that, for her tics, her anxiety, her sensory stuff.
When she was preschool-age, he started to say, "Okay, so now we will watch these behaviours; the tics, the anxiety, the sensory-seeking, and we'll think about a plan should they persist."

But because we didn't put her in preschool, it didn't matter as much as it might've had she been stressed and pushed to do preschool. For example, there is no way she would've let us leave her there. Not a chance. And she couldn't have functioned in that environment, full stop.
It was by comparing our child to other, more typical kids, that we really began to understand just how atypical and quirky she was.

And then her giftedness started to come into play too, such as reading early, and excelling at formal math, and pursuing her interests in science full force (reading books about Louis Pasteur at age four), which some might've seen as something to celebrate, but it made our hearts heavy because it just set her apart YET AGAIN, from her much more typical peers.

So, fast forward to our last visit to the paediatrician, who said this time, "Now we know that she is not going to immediately grow out of these things, and perhaps we need to reach out for supports for the things that are going to cause her pain and struggle, such as the tics and the sensory-seeking behaviours that disrupt her daily life."

And so we're waiting for a neuro-psych appointment at Children's Hospital, to deal with the tics first and foremost, and the SPD stuff secondarily.

All this to say that our ped is very un-alarmist, and I really appreciated his approach. He often says that quirky children grow up to be very accomplished and interesting adults, and that when our quirky children get to adolescence, they often grow out of the more disruptive quirks, and/or figure out ways to mask them to better take part in society.

As for what we work on with DD; we coach her on personal-space issues and physical boundaries, we've been steadily and doggedly working on her sleeping in her own room, we give her something she CAN chew on instead of her shirt or her fingers, we are constantly working on her volume (always LOUD), and we actively practice calming techniques with her.

We don't make her wear anything that she doesn't want to, we keep her social obligations to an absolute minimum, we don't have any scheduled classes or groups -- in fact, we homeschool -- we let her spend hours and hours doing her own thing, we don't bring any attention to her tics. I do explain when people notice her differences, but only enough so that they can empathize with her, and not give her pity, or think that I'm excusing her behaviours.

I consider myself her one-on-one worker as well as her biggest fan. I cherish her uniqueness as often as I worry that it sets her too far apart. But I also know that she will grow out of a lot of the things that I worry about now.
@ Starling&Diesel Can you share what you give her to chew on? This is a big thing for DD1, too. Hair, fingers, toys... there is always something in there and I just can't think of something that is age-appropriate for a nearly 5 year old to be chewing....Gum and candy are a no-go for us.....

How about calming techniques? We need this! We have a calm jar, but it is gathering dust because no one thinks of it in time! When we DO remember, it has been brilliant....

And what do you do for volume? I bought her a copy of Loud Emily just yesterday when I ordered the previously recommended books....

Feel free to PM me if you don't want to post it here! Also, your final comment about cherishing her uniqueness as well as worrying about it setting her further apart: yes, yes, and 1,000 more yeses. My sentiments towards my child as well, especially as I see her observe other children and take note that she is not like them.....


Sometimes I think DD1 is gifted, but then I hear about kiddos reading Pasteur at age 4 and then I think, nope, she's just my sweet little odd-ball.
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#18 of 24 Old 09-05-2014, 10:20 AM
 
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I cherish her uniqueness as often as I worry that it sets her too far apart. But I also know that she will grow out of a lot of the things that I worry about now.
Such a wonderful, balanced, proactive and optimistic approach! If I'm feeling charitable towards myself, I'd like to say that this is exactly what I did with my kids. I think that this approach of simultaneously being your child's biggest fan, but also being her proactive one-on-one worker, allows quirky kids to grow up functioning well but without feeling like there's something fundamentally wrong with them. In my family we have maintained a sort of "celebration of the eccentric" as part of our family culture, and I think that's been really helpful at maintaining my kids' self esteem. We take delight in the way we're all a bit weird, and greet the issue of coping with mainstream expectations as a challenge to be embraced.

I'm posting from the "other side" of all this. My quirkiest kid is now 20, and it's true that so much of what made her quirky at age 5 she has grown out of, or perhaps it's best to say she has "grown into", in that she found strategies that prevent her quirks from being intrusive and problematic and instead channels them productively. She is a wonderful, unique young adult who went from selective mutism and separation anxiety at age 4-8 to backpacking in rural SE Asia with some adult friends for almost three months at age 14, using pidgin Thai and Laotian and stunning amounts of confidence and independence. Everything that made her all-out quirky at 5 has contributed to making her the fascinatingly brilliant, socially confident and accomplished adult she is. Her quirks are now endearing eccentricities rather than social or emotional disabilities.

Miranda

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#19 of 24 Old 09-05-2014, 10:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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In my family we have maintained a sort of "celebration of the eccentric" as part of our family culture, and I think that's been really helpful at maintaining my kids' self esteem. We take delight in the way we're all a bit weird, and greet the issue of coping with mainstream expectations as a challenge to be embraced.
Love it! My husband and I call it "Letting Our Freak Flags Fly." We talk about how when we were kids we knew we were different, but just didn't care. In my childhood home, my differentness was repressed, while his was embraced. We're trying to embrace it in our home as well but I have moments when I worry someone will be mean to my daughter and she'll hide her true self and there are days when I just get down-right frustrated because I was apparently hoping parenting would be easier and didn't know it). I really like your attitude of embracing challenges instead of fearing them. I need to keep your words in my pocket.
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In my family we have maintained a sort of "celebration of the eccentric" as part of our family culture, and I think that's been really helpful at maintaining my kids' self esteem. We take delight in the way we're all a bit weird, and greet the issue of coping with mainstream expectations as a challenge to be embraced.
Yes! Us too! We're all a bit oddball in our house, with DD being exceptionally so. We love Michael Franti's "Stay Human" with it's "all the freaking people make the beauty of the world" refrain. Here's an acoustic version, but the plugged in version is also brilliant.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbpaKg9D32o

Back later to answer your questions, DuchessTergie.

ps. It is so reassuring to read your post from the 'other side,' Miranda. Thank you, truly.

dust.gifFour-eyed tattooed fairy godmother queer, mama to my lucky star (5) and little bird (2.5). Resident storyteller at www.thestoryforest.com. Enchanting audiostories for curious kids. Come play in the forest!
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#21 of 24 Old 09-05-2014, 01:42 PM
 
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We have now the interesting experience that DD, who always appeared more typical than DS1, is growing into some similar quirks having just turned four. At the same time she appears to have an intellectual growth spurt. Till now, she has been at a private daycare, small groups, lots of attention, where she was allowed to be unique and cute, but will start next Monday in the public village preschool, 25 kids to three teachers, where Ds1 had rather a hard time fitting in at that age. So far I haven't been worried as she's a year older that he was, socially much more astute and friends already with a couple girls from her class, but things might turn out more interesting than we thought...

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@ Starling&Diesel Can you share what you give her to chew on? This is a big thing for DD1, too. Hair, fingers, toys... there is always something in there and I just can't think of something that is age-appropriate for a nearly 5 year old to be chewing....Gum and candy are a no-go for us.....

How about calming techniques? We need this! We have a calm jar, but it is gathering dust because no one thinks of it in time! When we DO remember, it has been brilliant....

And what do you do for volume? I bought her a copy of Loud Emily just yesterday when I ordered the previously recommended books....

Feel free to PM me if you don't want to post it here! Also, your final comment about cherishing her uniqueness as well as worrying about it setting her further apart: yes, yes, and 1,000 more yeses. My sentiments towards my child as well, especially as I see her observe other children and take note that she is not like them.....


Sometimes I think DD1 is gifted, but then I hear about kiddos reading Pasteur at age 4 and then I think, nope, she's just my sweet little odd-ball.
Calming:
We've tried all kinds of things, but only a few have worked with any deep or meaningful results.
I've learned that it can't be any 'thing,' and instead has to be something we 'do.'
  • Breathing: "In through your nose, out through your mouth." We have her breath out slowly, and in deeply, and we count as we go, usually up to five.
  • Counting: Sometimes we count together, usually up to 100. This sometimes helps me more, I think, in that is shifts me out of my anger or frustration or inability to think of anything else to do. This can be problematic for my kid though, because she can get very OCD about the counting. We try not to do this one often.
  • Firm holding: She likes to be hugged tight on my lap. I'm not always in the mood to comply, but when I can, this often soothes her. She also responds well when I press my hand to her heart and keep it there and look into her eyes and get her to engage with me, and me alone.
  • Singing: This works well for us. I have a few songs memorized that she likes (Elizabeth Mitchell's "Pony Boy" and "You are My Flower" are her favourites) and if I can get her to sing along with me, that usually calms her down.
  • Going outside. This always helps to calm her.

Chewing: We've tried all kinds of chew products, but she usually destroys them. I've taken to buying the ones that our local children's store sells, because it's also a consignment store, so I can use my credit. I can't remember the brand name, but they're meant for older kids and are more discreet (bracelets, necklaces, etc). I really like the looks of these: http://www.chewigem.co.uk, and if we had the money, I'd get a few.
We also let her chew xylitol gum, after talking to our dentist about it. Not too much though, as it can cause diarrhea. If it were up to her, she's be chewing gum all day long, but being that we're only okay with xylitol gum, that's not a possibility.
Honestly though, she'd much rather chew on her shirt or her fingers. Not much as truly worked when it comes to this.

Touching: I help her to interpret social cues. ie. "See him pull away from you / stiffen up / run away / grimace / push you / scream? That means that he doesn't want you to hug him." I used to try to be less frank, but that didn't work. Now I make the observation on her behalf, so that she knows. If I don't point it out, she has no clue. If it's happening with kids that we see often, I'll have a chat with the mom about how we're working on her sensory stuff.

Volume: As a family, we're trying hard not to talk over each other. So while it doesn't always happen, it is something we're all aware of and trying to do better with. With DD, I am constantly reminding her to turn down her volume. I try to keep it light sometimes, by asking her where my ears are, or to measure how far she is away from me. We also try not to shout up the stairs (so hard for me not to do too!). I'll often use a whisper too, to refocus her attention when she's being loud. I call this my "Michelle Duggar" technique.

Ticks: We ignore them, as advised by pretty much any resource/professional that we've ever consulted. I've taken video of them to show the Neuro-Psych team, but she doesn't know that I was taking the video of her ticks, just that I was taking a movie of her. Again, if I see that other parents are noticing them, I'll explain without getting too much into it.

For example, DD got into an argument with another little girl at NBTS Camp about the lyrics to a song. They disagreed about the verses, which might not be a big deal for most kids, but for my obsessive and passionately perfectionist kid, it spiralled downward quickly, until they were shoving each other, which shocked DD so much she became hysterical. I sat her in my lap and held her tight, putting my hand on her heart to help her calm down. We breathed together, and she tried to calm down, but she was so upset that the girl had it wrong, that she couldn't pull herself together. She apologized to the girl, for the hitting, and was horrified that she didn't get an apology in return. After that she was a flurry of ticks (coughing, mostly), and another parent joined the circle and asked if she could get DD a drink of water, to which I said no thanks (she'd just had one), and then she asked if DD had gotten smoke from the campfire in her face, and then when the coughing didn't stop, she asked if she had asthma. I was fully engulfed in the meltdown, while also taking care of my 3yo, and was quite annoyed that she kept asking questions, so I just said, "It's a tick." As it happened, nothing worked to calm her down, and we ended up leaving the campfire, with me dragging a protesting 3yo and a hysterical 5yo back to the tent and into bed.

Know what finally calmed her down? Being in bed, reading, away from the group.
Which reminds me of another calming technique: CHANGING THE ENVIRONMENT. She happily snuggled into her sleeping bag and read, while I sat there, my ears ringing with frustration and disappointment at how the evening had ended.

Hope some of this helps!
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dust.gifFour-eyed tattooed fairy godmother queer, mama to my lucky star (5) and little bird (2.5). Resident storyteller at www.thestoryforest.com. Enchanting audiostories for curious kids. Come play in the forest!
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#23 of 24 Old 09-06-2014, 04:36 AM
 
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Err, I still chew on my fingers. Is that weird?

My advice may not be appropriate for you. That's ok. You are just fine how you are and I am the right kind of me.

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#24 of 24 Old 09-07-2014, 06:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Err, I still chew on my fingers. Is that weird?
Only if they never come out.
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