With the impending school year, I can almost feel the anxiety we would have as Elizabeth got ready for a new school year, another teacher and hopefully another year to be “understood”

Each year in the Fall, I would write a letter to the school telling them everything that she had done, learned or struggled with in the summer. I told them all about the things she liked, didn’t like and anything new that I thought would help everyone see the complete picture of who Elizabeth was.

NOT who she is related to the label of her disorders.

But who she IS!

The sum of all the parts. The sum of all the things that make her, well, Elizabeth!

In addition to this anxiety, was the strong feeling I had of a big marker of time happening. I mean you cannot deny the passing/marking of time when you are faced with a new school year that has the numerical year after it. Such as when the school send letters home welcoming you “to the new school year for 2022-2023”

Yes, it certainly marks time. And for me, it was just this marker that got my head thinking about all the things that maybe we still needed to work on, or maybe the things I wished she could do that others her age did without any issue. Or what should our new goals be for the year to address all these things.

I guess for me the ending of summer and the beginning of a new year was quite the emotional journey. I know that with Elizabeth’s disorders it was so critical to have the year start off the best it could, to keep her anxiety down and all for others to be able to work well with her. Her disorder of SPD ( Sensory Processing Disorder) and Global Dyspraxia are tricky and can sometimes be big players in her day and other time not so much. So it absolutely a necessity for those with her and working with her understand her well.

Flash to 2022, and Elizabeth is 25 years old. Way past the time that this time of year should elicit the same feelings as when she was younger. And in many ways that is indeed true. But in other ways you would be surprised that they are still there.

I think it is because we as parents of these beautiful young people become conditioned quickly to do things a certain way for them, to be their advocate. This role is one that changes and adjusts over time but the role sticks with us, I think forever.

I can say that it is for me.

I mean I was driving with Elizabeth today to get coffee and we were talking.

About what, you may ask?

What her goals are for this next year! What she wants to work on, what she wants to keep in her day and what she wants to let go of.

We talked about her jobs and if she wants to work more (if that is possible) or the same.

And how she can keep being more independent.

Yes! You hear it too, don’t you? We are pretty much doing the same thing we did when she was younger only now she is older, in on the decisions and plans and we can control more variables but STILL, it is pretty much in the same planning family.

I liked hearing what she had to say, and I like making these plans because they are HERS not just what we, her parents, think is best.

So, for those who may have a lot of feelings at the start of the year, remember we all need supports. And we all need to adjust and reassess things.

Our beautiful children with special needs are no different. And we are all a work in progress in this thing called life.

I wish everyone a peaceful week,

Michele Gianetti author of Elizabeth Believes In Herself