I know that I have often talked about the gift of Elizabeth, (my daughter who has special needs. Specifically, she has Sensory Processing Disorder(SPD) and global dyspraxia.)

From the way she stops us midway as we are walking down the hallway upstairs to make sure we see the sunset and how “its all purple and pink” and she looks so peaceful watching it.

to the gift of

The times that she will tell you the color of your heart, based on how she senses you feel. (red is angry, pink is happy, blue is so-so and black is the worst)

to the gift of

The appreciation we have for all the little successes she or anyone accomplishes in life.

These are just a few of the too-many-to-tell-you gifts of Elizabeth.

It is not just me and my husband who have benefited from these gifts, Elizabeth’s siblings have as well. You can see it in their kind hearts. The way that they understand her and are patient with her. The way that they are kind and understanding of others to a degree not typically seen in young adults/adults their age. I remember my son, Michael, at the age of 11 or 12 making sure that everyday after school he would “high five” a student he knew who had special needs.



I love his heart.

And my daughter, Emily, who is now a full fledged adult has ALWAYS had a certain ability to understand and be understood by her sister, Elizabeth. She was as we used to call her “the Elizabeth whisperer”

All the time that Emily spent with her sister gave her perspective and well?. LIFE with a special needs sibling. I remember telling Emily that all that Elizabeth has taught her during her life would give her gifts that will help her be the best physician possible. I mean who better than a physician who LIVED life with special needs in it to help families who are on their special needs journeys? Be this a young child, young adult or the families of the former.

We sometimes worry so much about the siblings of these beautiful special needs children we are raising, that maybe we do not think of the gifts they receive from having them in their lives. I like to think that the gifts of their siblings are what can stay with them to help them in their lives.

Let me share this story about just such a gift that Emily shared.

Emily was on an overnight call for her residency last week and got a call from a nurse on a patient who would not get dressed or stay in their bed. The patient was a man with Down’s Syndrome. And as I was told by Emily, no matter what the nurses said, this man would NOT listen. He would not dress. PERIOD. They had called her so she would handle this and maybe prescribe something to help with his anxiety over this situation.

So Emily told me that she went into his room and had a nice talk with this man. She told him that it is okay if he doesn’t want to dress. She told him it really wasn’t a problem but that the getting out of bed WAS an issue in case he fell and hurt his already hurt leg. I think because Emily was taking the time to talk to this man, he told her how his emotions were about the whole scene.

She listened….the gift of Elizabeth.

She then told him that he needed to promise her that he would not get out of bed that night. That he didn’t have to dress but that he needed to promise to stay in bed. She said she PINKY PROMISED with him to do this.

So picture this scene. Doctor and patient pinky promising and see the gift of Elizabeth and the gift of my Emily….

This man then stayed in bed all night. And had no more issues.

He was heard because Emily knew this from life with her sister.

My daughter shared the gift of her sister and we are so proud of her!

Trust me on this one, when the days with our special needs children are long or tough, we may not see the gifts, but they are there.

Let my story help us all remember.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of Elizabeth Believes in Herself