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Elizabeth just started school yesterday.

She loved her first day and after the anxiety she showed in anticipation of it, we were happy she got that first day under her belt. On our way home from school she was telling me about her day and all that went on including her experience in her class that she is taking.
She told me about the teacher and that she took some notes in class. While this all sounds so good, the reality is that with her special needs of dyspraxia and sensory processing disorder ( SPD), the art of notetaking can be very challenging. From the act of hearing the words spoken, to processing the words, to getting them onto paper with her motor challenges. All while the professor keeps talking. Because, after all, no one is going to wait until she catches up to continue.
So her notes are sketchy and are gratefully augmented by the buddy who is her support in the class.
We go over her notes each day and she fills in all of the voids using the buddy’s note And this is where the whole writing/grip the pencil thing rears its ugly head….again.
Because she:
Write a few words.
Spin the pencil.
Grip it differently.
Write a few words.
Fiddles with the pencil. And so on. I know this has to do with her sensory challenges and anxiety but it would be so much better is she would regain the correct grip each time.
So….. we are going to focus on typing this semester because that is what she can do well and it is what is asked of by the professor. So while she can take notes, we decided to use the buddy’s notes and encourage her to type up her own notes from them. I think that is a good growth for her and we are excited to do that.
But it is still that writing that is another work in progress. And for those who have a special needs child, you may get this point so well. You have to help your child succeed, such as the typing, but not forget to continue to work on those goals that are coming along, such as the writing well.
With that in mind, the hunt for a tool to use to encourage the writing does not end. In fact,I recently came across a pen option that I am going to try, partly because it is new to us and partly because it is a new school year and trying something fresh kind of just fits better, at least to me.
The pen is called PenAgain.

It is shaped like a wishbone and you position it so that most of the writing motion comes from your pointer finger directing the motion. Kind of like when you use a wipe of marker on a large wipe off board. You use your pointer finger more. Or if I am kicking it old school, when you write on a chalk board with chalk. I tried it and truly it is really comfortable and it completely takes any choice of finger placement out of the mix. Meaning Elizabeth could write and spin but will go back to the same grip….because there is only one that is comfortable.
For us, this might be a good option. I will let you know.
Our site has other writing options for you to take a look at because now is a good time to see what fits your child and their new school year. And also, not a bad idea to let the school OT know about your pen/grip choice and work because then it can be reinforced in the classroom as well.
So day two for Elizabeth is today, I will let you know how the PenAgain is working for us.
Again, we are all a work in progress!
I wish everyone a peaceful week.
Michele Gianetti author of “ I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey” and “ Emily’s Sister


So how is it going in our world for Elizabeth this week
Well?!?! Today is a good day.
But the three previous days, not so much. You see the topic of a new school year was brought to the forefront of her mind because we had to have a conversation about the meeting for her college program that was scheduled for Tuesday of this week. We just found out about the meeting so it was a small surprise for us all and it sort of brought home the idea that school really was coming.
We had talked about the start date for school and it seemed like her anxiety was fairly in check. But this surprise really tipped her anxiety over the top.
And as a result, her anxiety went really high.
For her currently, the anxiety shows itself in her being absentminded or distracted. She becomes disorganized and seems to forget how to do the smallest of tasks because the anxiety makes her dyspraxia worse for the moment. Her sensory issues show themselves when she is nervous as well and that shows itself in her “not wanting to do anything” and by anything, she means anything that is at all challenging. You know someone is really working hard to keep it together when making cookies is stressful. Her tone of voice is sharp as well.
Even though we are 22 years into this journey with our beautiful Elizabeth, I can still find myself amazed at how great her two disorders readily show their faces..again. Sometimes I think it feels like they lay in wait for their moment back into the spotlight and then BAM! There they are.
I do know that I am so very grateful for knowing all I do about her disorders and how Elizabeth works because we know what to do to help her work her way through any heightened anxiety. I have to say it is not easy work but we know the things we need to do to help her.
We did what we know to do, we talked about her feelings, let her cry, wrote down a schedule for her to see and talked some more. But like I said in a prior blog sometimes the only thing you can do is to get to the day or event. And that was indeed the case for her because she came home from the meeting talking about her friends, her coach/buddies and how excited she was for the new year.
I KNOW! From one extreme to the next, but truly it was everything we said to her during our talks but she had to get there to see it and reinforce it for herself.
Elizabeth woke up today and looked peaceful. She slept well and has made it to the other side of this anxiety.
Our special needs children are so unique and work so hard in life each day. What works for us may not work for you and vice versa but we are all on this journey for our children to grow and have the very best life possible.
I hope things are going well in your world and we will try to make those cookies again tonight, my guess is she will want to this time!
I wish everyone a peaceful week.
Michele Gianetti author of “I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey” and “Emily’s Sister”

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