Archives for the month of: December, 2018

It is a common question these days.

It is asked in almost every conversation.

” Are y’all ready for the holidays?”

It is usually asked in a casual manner, not unlike when someone asks how you are doing and you answer “fine” because it is expected ( and if you really answered it, you would need them to take a seat, get a snack and settle on in)

So even though it is a quick question, for me, it holds more weight.

I think this is because of my daughter with special needs.  She has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and Global Dyspraxia.  And these disorders affect her life each and every day.  In different ways, forms, and intensity as she has grown older. But they are still there.

So when someone asks that question, I think,  Am I ready?

So here are a few things I do to help get ready for a really busy time.

I talk to those family members and friends who will be with her a lot

I did not always do this.  I thought I could just get through the event or dinner myself.  Maybe because I did not know if they would believe me or give credit to what I was saying.  And maybe because I thought I could handle it all.  But whatever the reason, I am here to say that that mindset does NOT work well at all.  The needs of your child will be there and may be magnified by the change in food, sounds, faces and schedules.  So talking about your child’s needs is a huge help.  Telling these same people, how the disorders many show themselves helps too as does telling them what you might need to do to help your child if they are anxious or having a meltdown.   This takes away the need for you to talk and explain as you are trying to help your child.  Been there.  Done that.  Do not wish to do it again.

I talk to Elizabeth about her schedule and write it down

I may not have written it down years ago. But now we do. Together.  And we talk many times about what to expect, who she will see, what time we will go.  And most importantly, and if you know Elizabeth, you would agree,  what food there will be and what food she can pack herself.  Any and all things that you can tell your special needs child will help them as they can prepare themselves for transitions and anticipate what will happen next.

I have learned it is okay to say no to something

This is hard because the holidays are like fun on steroids.  So much you can do, see and experience.  But as I have learned early on in this journey with Elizabeth is that more is not always better.  There is a limit that our children have and recognizing it and respecting it is critical.  I learned that the hard way and I still do not like to talk about the Christmas tree walk we took a few years ago.  But I digress,  but in my opinion it is so much better to fully enjoy one good thing than push through four.

Make memories

I know this one sounds like a no brainer.  But the truth is, we are all hit with pictures and movies showing the ideal and perfect Christmas.  I have learned that, in our world, we celebrate all the successes and good things that happen in our family’s life.  Are we perfect? Is our Christmas worthy of a Hallmark movie?  Absolutely No.  But it is ours.  It is our way and it makes our hearts happy.  So we make memories our way. Those who have a special needs child in their lives will completely get this point.   So make as many memories as you can and tuck them away in your heart.

The above things all still fit into my plan to “Get Ready”

I wish everyone a peaceful week

Michele Gianetti  author of “I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey” and “Emily’s Sister



When your child has special needs, seeing them achieve even the smallest of things can make your heart soar.

In our case, it did not actually make our hearts soar but leap a bit. You see, the skill she showed off to us was the ability to open a medicine bottle… the one with a safety lid!

She was sitting on my dads lap, and he had health issues so his medicine bottled (closed) was sitting on the middle of the kitchen table.  Elizabeth reached for it and shook it etc. But then to our surprise…opened it!

I know that this  one skill has many motor planning parts to it as well as gauging pressure on the lid to get it to open.  So once we grabbed the bottle from her we could then be in awe of her new skill.

It was a skill that she learned in her occupational therapy.  She was in this therapy from such an early age due to her special needs of Dyspraxia and SPD ( Sensory Processing Disorder). I can remember how she learned this skill and  it involved many sessions in therapy  as well as follow-up activities at home.

One of the ones that we used at the beginning of teaching this skill were these cool plastic nuts and bolts. The were big, colorful and inviting.  This toy helped her use both hands at the same time to accomplish a task.  Which for someone with Dyspraxia can be a hard thing to do because crossing midline, in any activity, can be challenge.  This toys helped her work on her fine motor skills and of course,  learn the twisting motion which led to her ability to look directly into a bottle of my Dad’s prescription medication, as I just shared.

I know how it is to want your child to do something right away.  But I have learned that it takes steps and practice.  So this toy I am going to tell you about would be one to consider as a beginning of teaching these bilateral hand skills.

It is called the  Tots First Chunky Pegs.  It checks off everything on the list:

-The pegs are big

-They are colorful

-They are inviting.

The idea of the toy is that the child picks up a peg, stacks on one similar in shape and build small towers with them.  There is a board that holds them all and on this board is where the building can take place.  The tops of each peg is a shape some are circle, square, triangle and star as well as ones that are 4 and 6 sided.

They are also in great colors of green yellow, orange, purple and blue.

+  So right away, I can see putting these on the kitchen table with some on one side of the child and some on the other and having them use BOTH hands to put them together. And BOTH hands to take them apart

+  I can see having the pegs on one side of the child and the board on the other and having the child CROSSS MIDLINE to put the pegs on the board.

+ I can see having them stack all the same color ones together and then use BOTH hands to take them apart.

+ Or putting them into a pile and counting them by color, shape or size.

And then of course, there is the one where they just get to play with it the way they wish.

In any event, it looks simple and says on the box it is for ages 12 months and up, but I can see some great things to do with them.  Maybe a nice idea for some “work” during  a quiet time.

Or put them in a plastic container to tuck into a sensory bin to have in your “arsenal” of sensory toys.  Especially if your child has a sensory diet that includes quiet activities and they like this kind of thing.

All things learned start with the first step toward the goal and toys like this make taking the first step kind of fun.

Just watch out for those medicine bottles once your child gets rolling.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of “I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey” and “Emily’s Sister


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