I saw the weather forecast….a severe thunderstorm warning is in effect for the counties of… and our county is one of them!

As much as we had been waiting for and praying for ( thank you LOOOONG, Ohio winter) and thinking about Spring, I had forgotten the one part of it that I so dread …the weather.

 To you and me it is rain, some wind and thunder…to Elizabeth and others with SPD it is an entirely different experience. And to add to it, is the ever-present threat of a power outage. That sudden loss of lights is a real and slightly palpable fear for Elizabeth. And I am sure so many who have her disorder of SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder).

It is like the threat of a loss of lights, even if they never go out, can make Elizabeth be very on edge. I know that we have had it go out at different times and as a result, when there is a bank of dark clouds on the horizon, I know just what our Elizabeth is probably thinking.

For those who don’t know, Elizabeth has 2 disorders that affect her life each and every day. SPD and dyspraxia have been a part of Elizabeth’s life since birth. When she was younger, it was SPD that was the one that affected her the most. Most things in her life, felt wrong or offensive to her, and her response was to cry, scream or avoid doing things.

As those who know our story know, it was therapy, work and more of the two that helped Elizabeth get to where she is now.

But it is so interesting and sometimes so perplexing how certain things can bother her to such big degrees and other things don’t.

Will this storm make her nervous all night? I am not sure. There have been times when she will reluctantly fall asleep as she tries to wait out a storm or we will sigh with relief if the lights go out at a random nighttime time, like 2:00 AM because we know she won’t know they went off.

So how do we help her handle this? And how do we try to help her with other things like this?

We talk- As she has gotten older, we can talk with her and hear her feelings. This was not always the case when she was young and had limited words. So we are grateful we can talk, show her the weather map and when the storm is supposed to be past us. We think this helps her feel more in control if she knows more.

We plan- If the weather forecast is one that includes a chance for these storms later, we will remind her to make sure her computer, phone and battery banks are all fully charged. Sometimes this can make her nervous as she sees them charging as if they are a silent screaming reminder of bad weather coming. But we try to assure her that this a good thing to do and that if she needs her phone it will be ready.

We also charge our lanterns (camp type lamps) and make sure she has one in her room if needed. Again, not always is this calming but we know it will be there is she needs it. And she has a flashlight in her room.

We try to do these same things, talking and planning, for her when she encounters other things that tend to bring on SPD anxiety. Because if it is one thing I have learned on this journey with Elizabeth is that SPD does not quit, that it will be there always and sometimes it will show itself and other times it will lie dormant. But it is part of who they are.

So us learning how to help her is the key because hoping it will go away doesn’t really work well for us.

I am looking out the window now and see a slightly blue nighttime sky right now. So maybe the storms are not coming here tonight. But I can tell you that our battery chargers are ready to go!

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of Elizabeth Believes in Herself.

.