In our school system, the first day of school is on Monday. Which means that this weekend takes on a whole new meaning when Monday is THE BIG FIRST DAY!

I know for Michael he will be a bit nervous for his first day, as is normal. But my guess is that he will be approaching it differently due to his age, the fact that he has friends in all his classes and that he has been running with the Cross-Country team all summer all make the first day less emotional. It is like he has been with the school most of the summer.

Now, flash back with me to when Elizabeth was headed back to school. At any age or any year.

Before we head down this riveting story, for those who don’t already know, Elizabeth is my beautiful 25-year-old daughter with special needs. She has SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) and Global Dyspraxia. These disorders affect her life each and every day.

So back to the story,

This weekend, the one RIGHT before the start of school, would be the toughest one for Elizabeth. There would typically be a hyperfocus on the change that is coming. She would be anxious, and that anxiety would grow until she was so nervous inside that ANY challenge to her would elicit an irritated response. When she would be asked to do anything, it was like her brain had no space left to figure out how to do it, because it was all being used up in thinking about the new start coming her way.

Now, keep in mind, at this point we had already done the check list that included

Visiting the school

Talking to the new teachers/Intervention specialists

Sending info about Elizabeth, her summer etc (Our Introduction letter)

We made schedules for Elizabeth to know what was coming first, next, last in her morning.

Truly we had done it all.

And then it gets to the point that the ONLY thing that will actually help the anxiety about the upcoming change is to GET there.

I used to say this “I can’t wait for the first day of school to start FOR Elizabeth” I would say this NOT because I wanted school to actually start as I love my kids home, but for her the START of school would END the mass of feelings she had.

And it was the truth because of all the groundwork we laid, and the truth is for our beautiful children with special needs, we have to do this kind of groundwork for them. But the truth is she would come home exhausted from all the days of stress, content because it really was ok.

I offer this story out to those families who may be in this exact space with their child today. Just know that sometimes no more words, plans or charts can make it better.

Sometimes they just need to get there. Maybe this helped someone somewhere today.

I wish everyone a peaceful week,

Michele Gianetti author of Elizabeth Believes in Herself