It was like, as I put in my book, a dividing line was formed on the day she was born. The dividing of life before a special needs child entered our lives and after.

Elizabeth is currently 23 years old and has SPD(Sensory Processing Disorder) and Global Dyspraxia as well as an auditory processing disorder. But it was when she was a mere 2 days old that she started showing signs that something just wasn’t right.

Now denial was a big part of our lives as we denied away her need to be held or why she cried as soon as she was put down. We denied away her need for a dark room when it WASN”T naptime or her inability to put her own pacifier in her mouth.

But even through denial we found ourselves learning very quickly how to do things “Elizabeth’s way” meaning the way that kept her system calm and happy and they way we could still do the thing we wanted to do ( to a degree anyway)

And along the way as she grew older and from our knowledge of her disorders and ways, we have quickly become able to see in others we may pass, struggles similar to Elizabeth. I can remember once a boy crying in a store about putting his shoes on….not new shoes, just his shoes. I watched his mom do the same things I used to do to help Elizabeth accomplish something similar. I could just FEEL the anxiety in the mom and wished I could have helped.

And there have been times I have helped. When the mom was packing her groceries and her son was red faced and screaming…a high pitched scream, non stop….The mom’s face looked sad and panicky. I was so happy to help her because I WAS her many years ago and I GOT it.

As parent’s and caregivers to the special children we do GET it. Quickly and completely.

I call it another one of the Gifts Of Elizabeth.

Those who have read my books and these blogs know that I have referenced this often.

We feel that it takes many forms. One of my favorites is that she stops us all to “come see the beautiful sunset!” even when we are scattering around….she helps us pause and breath…..Gift of Elizabeth.

I was visiting my mom last week for her birthday. She is in assisted living after showing signs of decreasing cognition. We were able to get her into the assisted living exactly one month before the lockdown happened. So as a result we have not seen her very much at all until last week.

Her birthday.

April 1st.

We arrived with cake and cards. And were allowed into her room. It was wonderful!!!!! We sang to her and watched as she blew out her one candle. I gave her the directions she needed to cut the cake… “Okay Mom, go top to bottom…all the way through.” I knew to clean up everything so as not to upset the order in her home. We stayed only an hour as her scheduled lunch was then. Whatever we touched we put back in its place. And we encouraged her that she had done a wonderful job throughout the pandemic so far.

Would I have known to do all those things without being told? The one candle…not too many to challenge her, knowing she needed a reminder how to cut the cake, cleaning everything up, staying a shorter time, and encouraging her.

The gift of Elizabeth. Elizabeth has taught us so much about sensory needs, motor planning issues ( dyspraxia) and the need for encouragement. She has taught us patience and perspective to.

Our children are gifts but they bring us so many gifts as well.

The carry over of what we do for our children to other situations is there and was again for us last week.

I wish everyone a peaceful week and please keep wearing those masks.

Michele Gianetti author of Elizabeth Believes in Herself

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