I think that being on this special-needs journey with Elizabeth for over 24 years I have learned a lot

And I mean ALOT.

When I think back to the beginning of our journey, when our sweet little Elizabeth was born and how on the first day of her life, she was the LOUDEST newborn in the nursery as I was told by a veteran nurse who was taking care of her.

I then think about her crying all day every day from what we later would learn was SPD or Sensory Processing Disorder.

I think about how eye opening of a revelation it was to learn that it was dyspraxia that made putting a simple piece of a puzzle into its place, and it was an oversized puzzle, so very hard.

I think about her first sounds, so hard to make because of dyspraxia but made only by the enticement of an M&M reward.

I have to say that all these early memories make me remember those early times when the fact was I had no real idea what was going on. We had no one guiding us, no one to tell us to try this therapy or that.

It was like we were in the jungle with a sickle and were slicing our way through to find a path. But then after time passed, we did find a person to help us, then another and we listened.

And we did what they told us to do.

And the gains came.

So we listened more and did more.

And more gains came.

Listening is the one skill that I think is not spoken of enough. Because it differs from hearing which is one of our senses. You cannot help but hear someone as they talk. But it is listening that takes active work.

To process what is said, make sense of it, decide what to do with the words spoken.

It is an active choice.

One I am glad I was able to do.

I think though that we NEEDED so much help, it would have been silly of us to say “Nope, thanks anyway, we don’t need your list of things to do, we like struggling so much”

But what about when you are long into your journey, kind of strong is your beliefs that what you are doing is pretty good stuff? What happens to your listening skills then?

I have to say that I offer to everyone to keep them dusted off and honed in because the learning and growing knows no boundaries of age.

I will share:

I have heard one of my friends suggest to me about a new way she has been phrasing something to her young adult. This was to help the young adult feel differently about a situation. I nodded my head and thought something like I am glad that is working for you but I didn’t really listen to what she shared.

I guess I thought maybe we didn’t need the suggestion or maybe I didn’t think I could put it into our world.

But the fact is I should have listened then because it proved to be something that I COULD do for Elizabeth.

And in fact WAS something we just did this past week for her and it worked just the way my friend told me it would.

I think that no matter how strong we might be in our own certainty of how we can care for our special needs children, I know that listening is not one of the things we can afford to let go of. We need to keep the sharing, learning and listening going.

I speak from experience.

Just some thoughts for someone who might need to hear them.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of Elizabeth Believes in Herself.