Archives for the month of: June, 2021

So we decided to take a vacation this year. And like so many people, it has been a LONG time since we ventured out of the familiar streets of our city.

We decided to pick a week in June to go because we wanted to relax after all the graduation events for Emily, and sort of side step any basketball obligations that our son Michael had.

So we packed up and headed to a very quiet and sparse part of Virginia Beach and I have to say it was a lovely week of doing nothing, nothing and more nothing.

Everyone enjoyed it. Elizabeth loves the beach so much and could stay in the waves for an entire day and not want for anything else except an occasional snack. I am not kidding, she was out there 2 plus hours one day. Elizabeth has SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) and one would think she might hate the feel of sand and it being stuck to her feet, hands and most surfaces but she doesn’t. In fact, she loves it all.

Now sleeping in a new bed? Not so much. And that my friends is the true struggle for us for vacation.

It is her fear of the dark that started all this sleeping anxiety. And trust me, it isn’t dark by ANY means in ANY room she has EVER been in to sleep.

There are nightlights, flashlights and cool outdoor lantern with adjustable strength lighting…all there to help her KNOW she can use them and all will be well.

We show her the place she will be sleeping weeks out from our trip via the websites we can access.

We talk about the room and where she will put her lights.

We assure her that she will have a flashlight and that she even has one on her phone.

AND STILL she struggles to sleep. And she knows it too because she made sure to get her own Melatonin “to help me sleep”

The first few nights are typically the best because, and this is my theory, she is still rested from home and so she is calmer and can handle to new bed/room better but as she increases in her lack of sleep and increased tiredness it is harder for her to fall asleep and that leads to more tired and well you get the scenario.

But I have to say, that she is quite the trooper when it comes to being tired, she just kept on beaching it, sitting on the deck and relaxing.

But the agitation was slowly creeping in by Friday. She was struggling to stay organized and needed help with things she would typically blow through doing and if she didn’t want to try she would get frustrated and grit her teeth. And our last night of vacation saw us hunting down a place that could do a to-go order or had outdoor seating that didn’t require a 2.5 hour wait ( kid you not) so we finally found a place and it was late. So Elizabeth hung in until she had eaten then she was “ready to head on home” only no one else was done. It was here I could see that she how hard she was working due to her system being tired. So we all finished up and headed out to which she then said ” Anyone want ice cream?” I laughed because she felt relaxed out of the pressure of the restaurant when she was tired and it was loud to then be calmer again. She really is amazing in how hard she works and she knows she is loved so very much.

But the thing that is hard for us is that we know she struggles with this one thing and we have done all the things we can think of to make it easy for her but the struggle is real. And it is hard to watch her disorders affect her days so strongly.

Like I have said so many times before, in my opinion, it all begins with understanding your child and their unique needs and how to support them.

I think that the things we did for her to help her were the best we can do and that communicating with her helped us understand her feelings and to learn if we can do anything else for her. Especially on the car ride home when we were in hour 4 of a 9 hour ride home and she says “Well, I am so tired I am glad we will be home in a few minutes.” We smiled and very gently broke the news to her that she had some time in the car to go.

But I have to say she slept like a champ that night when we arrived home!

So how would I rate the vacation?

I would so give it a 9.5/10. It was a blessing!

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of Elizabeth Believes in Herself

In our state of Ohio, we have now had all of the COVID restrictions lifted as of June 2nd.

That means that we were told we were able to toss our masks, go out to eat at full capacity and all those other things that most of America has been waiting to have back again. Except for certain places like doctor’s offices and nursing homes.

Ahh!

To get back to the normal we once had.

One that we wondered if we would ever see.

So how are we handling this change in our world?

Well, it is different that is for sure because if you couldn’t guess from the way I have been signing off the blogs this last year. We are big rule followers. So we wore our masks and listened to the rules of social distancing and I have the world’s biggest jug of sanitizer a gallon container (made by our local distillery)

And now we are looking at adjusting it all.

Before the pandemic happened, Elizabeth would have absolutely NEVER put on a mask for a moment let alone hours. And she would have NOT remembered to sanitize her hands before eating let alone a few times a day. These were things we had to teach her to do, work with her to learn just what social distancing was, and practice and review it all. Again and again.

So we taught it all to our children be them special needs or neurotypical.

But for those who have special needs the teaching was harder and more repetitive because for many that is how they process things. Plus sensory issues can come into play frequently and can be the loudest factor as to why wearing a mask is a challenge.

But we taught our children as best we could.

I know with Elizabeth’s SPD( Sensory Processing Disorder) and global dyspraxia the initial days of the rules and regulations were so challenging but with careful talking and planning, she adjusted and is now quite truthfully one of the most COVID safe individuals there was.

At least until we went to the grocery store at the end of May.

The check out lady was smiling at us and I thought that something was amiss but I couldn’t place it until I realized it was that I was seeing her teeth and that was just something so unusual.

Then it hit me….I AM SEEING HER TEETH…SHE DOESN’T HAVE A MASK ON!!

She laughed when I told her this and went on to explain that the store has done away with the mask mandate ahead of June 2nd.

She then asked if we wanted to take our masks off, now that we knew. I no more had turned to Elizabeth to talk to her about it and had only got the the word want in my sentence “Elizabeth, do you want…” when she ripped her mask off, wrinkled up the paper mask, and smiled and said “There”

This was funny….true! but also gave me pause as I realized that even though we are vaccinated and could make smart adjustments, there was no blanket way to handle every situation. There were still adjustments that we needed to talk through.

Now in truth, the store was pretty empty, we were the only two in line and there was no one crowded around us in the packing area, so it was pretty safe.

And when we left:

-Elizabeth still sanitized her hands when we were done.

-And we walked around the crowd of people clustered at the door talking as we were leaving.

So I used these points to begin the conversation with her about adjusting to these new changes.

We talked about the virus, the vaccines, how our bodies fight the virus differently because of the vaccines we had.

We talked about when it was a safe time to take the mask off, such as an empty store.

We talked about when it was a good idea to put a mask on and why.

We talked about how nice summer will be with these new rules but that safety is still important and how to have fun but be safe.

I have to say that adjusting to this new “old normal” will be one we are all making. Some are making it faster than others.

So I know Elizabeth and I will be talking more as she has questions or does more things and that is okay. I want the conversation to continue.

Watching her whip off her mask that fast made me think how much our special children need that guidance, support and communication to let go safely as much as they needed the guidance, support and communication to function when this all began over a year and a half ago.

I wish you good luck as you help your child navigate the world they now see with no masks and full crowds. Maybe they will still have to wear one if they are younger and that could take some explaining.

But whatever the case may be, I hope the next step of this journey for us all goes safely and smoothly.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of Elizabeth Believes in Herself

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