Maybe it is the new year starting or maybe it is the fact that we are closing in on a full year of being in this pandemic. But whatever the reason, I feel like it is an okay time to post this “What I have learned so far” post.

So for those who are new to our story, Elizabeth is my daughter with special needs. She has Global Dyspraxia and Sensory Processing Disorder ( SPD). She is 23 years old currently and has made amazing gains in her life from the non-verbal child she was to this talkative, opinionated, fun young adult. Prior to the pandemic, Elizabeth was in her college-certificate program, working at 2 internships, volunteering 2 days a week and more.

Then came COVID.

There went all of her world.

Then came adjusting to this new, crazy, anxiety producing world…with really only time on our hands.

So before I continue telling you about what I have learned, I so very much need to tell you that for a very long time in young Elizabeth’s life, she and I did not live a life of rainbows and unicorns together. She was GREAT with others…any others….actually anyone BUT me! A random stranger on the street would get a more polite, happier Elizabeth than I. I accepted it, did not like it, but accepted it as the way things were. Because after all, I was the one to push her in life everyday. I was the one to enforce rules and expectations and I was the one who would sit with her every evening to review/talk about…I was the safe person to let it all out on.

So that was then and things did get better and better as she grew. And I, too, got to see the fun of time with her, hear her laugh often or just have fun with. But I truly had never been challenged to create a life with her that did not involve a schedule be it therapy, school, activities.

But that is where we found ourselves in mid March.

So we did create a life and with all our tools we learned over the years, we kept talking and adjusting and we did pretty well! A work in progress of course.

But here is what I learned:

Elizabeth likes a daily schedule but can be fine without one.

She is fun. PERIOD
She loves to be outside walking with me. We are up to 4.5 miles a trip.

She wants to keep learning. She set some great goals.

She loves to cook and will focus on learning how to do something new each time.

She wants to be an adult and treated as such. Thank you to Lynne for helping me see this.

She is quite a nice housemate. She helps out with day to day chores.

She is so sensitive to my feelings. She will ask often how I am and stare directly into my eyes to see for herself.

She loves coffee runs and at times “forgets” her wallet when it is her turn to “get it”

She is truly one of the biggest sponges of information. She sees it all, hears it all but cannot always get her words and feelings out. But we know what to do to help her best.

She knows things are hard for her and at times cries about it. But the time from COVID has allowed her to learn a lot more and believe in herself more. So we have a lot fewer tears.

That she and I are truly best of friends. I love being able to write this because years ago I could not.

I truly and deeply enjoy her company and watching her grow and achieve….again, we are a work in progress.

Has COVID been tough? Of course, yes! But has the blessing of time turned our journey in a completely different direction, one which we would not have picked? Yes it did!

And I am happy to have walked this new part of the journey! I know I learned fact that as well.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Please wear a mask!

Michele Gianetti author of Elizabeth Believes in Herself