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In our state of Ohio, we have now had all of the COVID restrictions lifted as of June 2nd.

That means that we were told we were able to toss our masks, go out to eat at full capacity and all those other things that most of America has been waiting to have back again. Except for certain places like doctor’s offices and nursing homes.

Ahh!

To get back to the normal we once had.

One that we wondered if we would ever see.

So how are we handling this change in our world?

Well, it is different that is for sure because if you couldn’t guess from the way I have been signing off the blogs this last year. We are big rule followers. So we wore our masks and listened to the rules of social distancing and I have the world’s biggest jug of sanitizer a gallon container (made by our local distillery)

And now we are looking at adjusting it all.

Before the pandemic happened, Elizabeth would have absolutely NEVER put on a mask for a moment let alone hours. And she would have NOT remembered to sanitize her hands before eating let alone a few times a day. These were things we had to teach her to do, work with her to learn just what social distancing was, and practice and review it all. Again and again.

So we taught it all to our children be them special needs or neurotypical.

But for those who have special needs the teaching was harder and more repetitive because for many that is how they process things. Plus sensory issues can come into play frequently and can be the loudest factor as to why wearing a mask is a challenge.

But we taught our children as best we could.

I know with Elizabeth’s SPD( Sensory Processing Disorder) and global dyspraxia the initial days of the rules and regulations were so challenging but with careful talking and planning, she adjusted and is now quite truthfully one of the most COVID safe individuals there was.

At least until we went to the grocery store at the end of May.

The check out lady was smiling at us and I thought that something was amiss but I couldn’t place it until I realized it was that I was seeing her teeth and that was just something so unusual.

Then it hit me….I AM SEEING HER TEETH…SHE DOESN’T HAVE A MASK ON!!

She laughed when I told her this and went on to explain that the store has done away with the mask mandate ahead of June 2nd.

She then asked if we wanted to take our masks off, now that we knew. I no more had turned to Elizabeth to talk to her about it and had only got the the word want in my sentence “Elizabeth, do you want…” when she ripped her mask off, wrinkled up the paper mask, and smiled and said “There”

This was funny….true! but also gave me pause as I realized that even though we are vaccinated and could make smart adjustments, there was no blanket way to handle every situation. There were still adjustments that we needed to talk through.

Now in truth, the store was pretty empty, we were the only two in line and there was no one crowded around us in the packing area, so it was pretty safe.

And when we left:

-Elizabeth still sanitized her hands when we were done.

-And we walked around the crowd of people clustered at the door talking as we were leaving.

So I used these points to begin the conversation with her about adjusting to these new changes.

We talked about the virus, the vaccines, how our bodies fight the virus differently because of the vaccines we had.

We talked about when it was a safe time to take the mask off, such as an empty store.

We talked about when it was a good idea to put a mask on and why.

We talked about how nice summer will be with these new rules but that safety is still important and how to have fun but be safe.

I have to say that adjusting to this new “old normal” will be one we are all making. Some are making it faster than others.

So I know Elizabeth and I will be talking more as she has questions or does more things and that is okay. I want the conversation to continue.

Watching her whip off her mask that fast made me think how much our special children need that guidance, support and communication to let go safely as much as they needed the guidance, support and communication to function when this all began over a year and a half ago.

I wish you good luck as you help your child navigate the world they now see with no masks and full crowds. Maybe they will still have to wear one if they are younger and that could take some explaining.

But whatever the case may be, I hope the next step of this journey for us all goes safely and smoothly.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of Elizabeth Believes in Herself

So to sort of dove tail on last week’s blog, I wanted to share how we went about making the plans for Elizabeth’s summer.

Elizabeth is going to soon be 24 years old and for those who don’t know, she has special needs. She has SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) and global dyspraxia. Both disorders can make life hard work. Some days are better than others and some days are simply the kind when I wish it was time to go to bed and start again tomorrow and I look at the clock and see it is 9:30 am! So as I was saying to my one dear friend, Elizabeth’s disorders can show themselves greatly or sometimes practically not at all. So when they do, I go back to my tools for helping her navigate them.

That is why planning out schedules requires us both to keep several things in mind. We need to always run the schedule through the filter of More is not always better

That is one of the things I talked about last week and it is one of the biggest tools I use.

So when Elizabeth and I talked about her goals for summer and what things were available, we both agreed that she is busy each day but that there is built in down time for each day. We have learned early on in her life that her nervous system requires time to “relax” I know a nervous system doesn’t actually do that, but because hers is working hard all the time to navigate life and adjust for changes that our systems do automatically, she is fatigued when her work/activity/job is done. So she needs a break.

A break of her choosing. And this is the other thing we talk about. She lets me know when she is taking her break. For example on Monday she is helping to teach gym classses to preschool children until 11:30 am. She told me “I will come home, eat lunch and relax a bit.” and yes, she says relax a bit. It is cute and I am not sure where she picked that up from. She also works at a local catering place in town, so that goes into the morning schedule 3 days a week too.

But then we talked about keeping her goals from before that included typing, reading and cooking. So we tucked those into the afternoons post break as they are low stress and sort of relaxing in their own right.

She loves to exercise, so that goes in the spot for after dinner and the days we walk our 5 miles gets put into the schedule as well.

It is a carefully crafted schedule and one that she worked with me on planning.

This is definitely a schedule that will be much fuller than we have had in a long time, so we may have to adjust if it is more that she actually desires. But that will be determined after it gets underway.

So the advice I gave on the previous blog was the same advice I follow to this day.

It starts with understanding your child and their needs and putting into their day the supports they need at the current time.

I hope everyone is enjoying their start to summer and good luck as you plan yours.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Michele Gianetti author of I Believe in You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey

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