I am always the one who says to the kind sole who announces ” I’m all done with my shopping for the holidays” that I am happy for them but that I will be starting my shopping when the calendar flips to December.

I am not kidding here, I usually feel washes of emotions compelling me to start shopping in November and maybe I will see a random gift here or there and grab it but I usually procrastinate and ward off those above feelings until December officially arrives and then I make lists and sigh and then start.

I think I wait NOW because it is easy to put it off especially when I am getting ready to do Thanksgiving and I guess my brain is happy concentrating on one holiday at a time at this time in my life. Trust me, I give credit to those who are able to focus on 2 big holidays at the same time

And because in our family, we take turns opening gifts and go around in a circle as we do it. So that means that everyone needs to have the same amount of gifts as the next person. So there is a sort of pressure here to achieve this. I have been known to wait until the house is empty and put out the gifts and count and recount them.

But I will share with you why I waited BEFORE:

You know the BEFORE…

BEFORE when Elizabeth was young and in the throes of her SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder)

BEFORE when she was struggling to do anything due to her Global Dyspraxia

BEFORE when she was non-verbal and struggling to make any noise other than crying.

Yes that BEFORE

The thing then was that I could shop and find toy after toy or item after item for Emily, our oldest child. That was the easy part. Almost too easy, really. Because once we were done with her items and list, we then had to face the very real reality that we did not know really what to buy for Elizabeth.

I mean we could have used her age as a guide, but those with dyspraxia are typically developmentally years younger than their real age, so that did not help.

We could buy her things that we saw on the popular network that begins with an “N and ends with a N” and hope for the best.

I mean it was not possible to really ask her and we did talk with her therapists to see what they recommended but you have to remember that this was back in the time that ordering on the internet was not a real option and the Amazon truck was not a reality yet.

So, it left shopping and looking aisle after aisle. All the while trying not to cry as the reality of our little one and her very real needs hit us. We always found items but if I am being truthful, most of them were not played with or happily used.

I know I am not alone at all in this set of emotions, when what SHOULD be simply ISN’T.

I think if I could go back and help and tell my younger self anything, it would be that the gift doesn’t have to be a therapy toy to help achieve a therapy goal. Who really thought about Playdough working on hand strength? To me back then, it was just a fun thing that Emily played with and tried to eat.

Or that you can work on skills like cutting while using Play dough.

Or that a colored light bulb can work as part of a sensory break room (Elizabeth loves blue and that is what shines bright in her room) Oh and it also works as a cool night light.

Or that a hop scotch set can be used to work on jumping skills, number recognition and balance.

I know that I would also tell my younger self to always think of the OTHER purpose for that toy. Think motor skills, writing skills, communication skills. Think if it could help with sensory issues, maybe be calming, maybe be the perfect addition to your sensory seeker.

I would also tell my younger self to think if you think you can see you using that toy in your child’s home therapy follow up I mean sure that drum would be great to use to count beats and work on rhythm and hand strength but would you REALLY want to make that part of your day each day.

I guess what I am saying here is that if I knew back then what I know now about holiday shopping I would not have seen it as the emotional event that it was I might see it as the chance to add some great items to help my daughter work on necessary skills and to make this work FUN for her.

So maybe if you feel now like I used to feel, maybe this blog has the words and thoughts that will help you. I hope so.

For me? Well……December 1st isn’t that far off….

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of Elizabeth Believes in Herself.