Archives for the month of: July, 2021

So I decided to make a change in the way I squeeze the toothpaste tube.

For several reasons.

One, being that by the time the tube is halfway done, it looks mangled and is very difficult to get the toothpaste from the bottom half of the tube through the crushed middle of the tube onto my brush. Two, in addition to the above. I also seem to forget to put the lid on the toothpaste. So I thought I would remember that better if I did the first thing

Yes, it is true, I am a one of those people.

So with great resolve I opened a new tube. Put it on the bathroom shelf and the proceeded with my day. I then went to brush my teeth, grabbed the tube and completely forgot my new plan and squeezed THE NICE NEW TUBE right in the middle.

As I sat and looked at what I had done, I started to think about habits, routines and just how hard they are to adjust or break them.

I read somewhere that it takes 21 days to change a habit. I can say, in my opinion, it can be even longer. Looking at my new crushed tube of toothpaste makes me think this because after all didn’t I JUST put it there and resolve to change my bad toothpaste crushing ways?

I tell that whole story to you because it makes me think about habits and my daughter, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth, for those who don’t know, has global dyspraxia and sensory processing disorder (SPD). She has worked so hard in the life each day because her disorders affect each day and all she does. Her global dyspraxia is a motor planning disorder that makes it hard work to learn a new skill and sometimes complete a skill that is already known. It also makes it so easy to form habits but so very, very difficult to change them.

So the one thing we have learned is to make sure that the information on how to do something gets in and processed correctly the first time because once the habit is formed…well…good luck to all as we attempt to change them.

So if it 21 days for those who are neurotypical, I would be hard pressed to say how many days it is for Elizabeth and others who have special needs.

This is for habits. But what about just some slight changes that we all adjust to after a few days. Like a new place that you decided to put your purse or say a reorganized closet that leaves you headed to the place you USED to get your socks from for, say a day or two, until you remember you moved them to the OTHER drawer. Then you remember and don’t go to the old place.

But for our children, those little changes can still be challenging. I share this because sometimes I forget that and forget to take some time to go over them with Elizabeth to make sure they get in right the first time. Remember that whole habit thing?

Well guess who didn’t? Yep this girl right here.

I watched a Youtube video on how to clean and organize your pantry. Well I did. And since I love to organize things ( Like REALLY love to organize!) This spread to every cabinet, closet and nook in our home.

It was fun and everything looks so nice ( for a while)

But then I noticed that the plastic containers are laying on top of the pans.

Why because I moved the container cabinet.

And only quickly showed her the great new clean kitchen areas.

Not really working with her to process the changes.

So day 2- plastic on pans again

Same with day 3, 4 and 5 and this is after I showed her.

HABITS!

Made and hard to unmake for Elizabeth.

So now I told her to put the plastic on the counter and we would put them away together.

This is to help her process it better.

Oh and for the record the plastic was not the only thing that was put in its old place.

So I think the take away from this story is that the little things can be big things for our kids and that remembering that ( this is to me too!) as well as what we need to do to help them adjust is the best way for success.

Will I straighten and clean again? That is big YES! But when it has a lot of change in it, I will remember what Elizabeth needs.

Not a bad thing to remember as life changes in both little and big ways.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of Elizabeth Believes In Herself

I saw the weather forecast….a severe thunderstorm warning is in effect for….

As much as we had been waiting for and praying for and thinking about Summer, we were not really ready to see rain in so many of the day’s forecasts. There was flooding in our neighboring town. So to say that the threat of storms has been a factor would be a bit of an understatement this year.

 To you and me it is rain, some wind and thunder…to Elizabeth and others with SPD it is a hugely nerve wracking experience. Complete with the repeatedly asked question ” the rain is done now, right mom?”  To which I answer ” Almost”, “I think pretty soon it will pass us”  until the I reach the point where, if physically possible, I would fly up to the sky and push the storm away.

SPD and dyspraxia have been a part of Elizabeth’s life since birth.  The disorders for Elizabeth showed themselves in such a severe way.  Her first Occupational Therapist told us that she was the most severe case of SPD that she had ever treated. Elizabeth was afraid of EVERYTHING…she cried all day long.  Elizabeth has been in therapy in one form or another for the two disorders since she was two years old.  Through the hard work of therapy and follow up at home. The world became a much less scary place, the hold that SPD and dyspraxia had on her lessened inch by inch, bit by bin,

In my mind’s eye, many years ago I see the letters of SPD and dyspraxia as big and frightening and as we have made gains and have seen such growth in Elizabeth, the letters look smaller, less intimidating.  They are so much a part of her and why she is who she is.

Sometimes when you see your special  needs child doing so well, just humming along (we have all had these times…short lived or not) there is that feeling, that wonderful feeling that perhaps whatever your child has is lessening its hold…that for this moment you can relax.  I know sometimes for me I will try to figure out what magical steps I have taken to make this moment happen with the sheer driving force being the need to be able to recreate it again,  But , as we all know, there is no magical order of steps, no real magical anything.  Our children are so complex in their “wiring” that there are days they are simply more organized, their systems are simply more calm and can handle things better. We can help them by doing the things such as brushing or a sensory diet etc… But magic does not really fit in.

…This storm has the possibility of producing large hail and winds in excess of….

Yes, this storm made Elizabeth very nervous, quite anxious and  truthfully she looked so much like the frightened child we had so many years ago. But because she is verbal as all get out now. She said with great irritation, later in the evening, ” So are these stupid storms done yet? They make me kind of nervous you know?!!”

I don’t want you to feel sad after reading this… Rather, we can use these times to remember that all the things we have done have made a difference in their lives.  I like to think of it like this…if she was still that frightened child she was when she was little, her behaviors and fear about the storm would not have stood out as much as they do.

I know, you know, we know these disorders our children have will be with them forever.  But we will do our best to help them succeed, to help them manage those times when the disorders show their faces again.  This storm to you and I is just rain and wind but what it is to us is our reminder that  our work continues.

That we need to be ready for when the weather alert beeps as well as for when our children just cannot handle their world right then.

.Yes it was just rain…but for Elizabeth it was so much more.

I wish everyone a peaceful week and here is to hoping for no more storms!

Michele Gianetti author of I Believe In You

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