Archives for category: Daily Living

When I am talking about Elizabeth, so many times I say to people ” We are working on it”.  It can be in reference to a skill, or a task or even remembering the steps to complete something.

I use that phrase a great deal when I talk about Elizabeth because she has special needs, specifically Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and Global Dyspraxia.  These special needs affect her life each and everyday, and because life is challenging for all of us and more so for her.

For Elizabeth, learning to read essentially means memorizing the English language.  I am told by her therapists that she memorizes words and instead of sounding out a new word, will essentially replace it with a word she knows that either starts with the same letter or looks like the word in questions.   This makes for some interesting sentences for sure.  Learning the new word, she then adds to her memorized list.  It is a hard way to read but it shows once again, how smart and hard working our special needs children are.

Another thing that she “works on”‘ is not losing her place as she is reading.  Sometimes she will read a sentence, pause and then reread it again.  She did this when she was young and found that using a pencil to help guide her eyes helps.  I know this is because Dyspraxia can affect the eye muscles used for tracking thus making this skill hard for her too.

We started looking into the use of a color and how it affects reading ability and comprehension.  As it turns out, the use of color does appear to help in these areas.  So we used one of those plastic binder separators, cut to a smaller size, in the color blue, to use as she read.  I have to say, it seemed to lessen the work that reading was for her.  I know we used it a great deal when she was in elementary and middle school.

I think making our own, way back in the day, was a great help but there are many options now to lessen the struggle to read for your child.  The one I like a great deal is called the EYE LIGHTER

This little reading device is deceptively simple.

It is about 6 inches long and a bit over an inch wide, and looks like a ruler.

The Eye Lighter comes in four colors: green, yellow, blue and purple, all of which are see through. Colored, but see through.

The cost is pretty small as well.

You use it like a ruler to follow the sentence you are reading but instead of the desired sentence being above the ruler it is in the middle of the EYE LIGHTER.  The desired sentence is then highlighted by the device and is to be easier to read.  Another thing is that the Eye Lighter makes it easier to follow the words and sentences instead of using a finger or pencil.  This makes it a great learning tool for a school bag or a sensory bin.

Order one today, especially if your child is showing signs of struggling with reading, it might be a good fit!

I hope the new year started off well for everyone!!

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




We have a chalkboard on the wall in the kitchen.  Typically, I would put little sayings on it from time to time or I would forget and leave something up there for way longer than it should be.  But the chalkboard has seen some new life this month because everyday day Michael is using it to do the official countdown to Christmas.  Basically what you see are the words.  “Days until Christmas” then a smear of erased chalk marks and in that smear, the current number of days left.  He is excited for the holiday and all it represents and brings and of course, time off from school!

And as much fun as it can be to have everyone off from school, it does pose certain challenges especially for our children with special needs.   The schedule that you have in place is not one you will most likely have this week off.  I know that for us, a bit of planning for this week was very helpful to make it as fun and calm for Elizabeth.  She is our daughter who has special needs.  She has Sensory Processing Disorder ( SPD) and Dyspraxia.

So I thought I would share some of planning we did for Elizabeth.


By this I do not mean anything related to the wonderful holiday cookies. I am referencing the sensory  diet that so many of our children have.  It is hard to maintain it with a vacation week but it is so very helpful to try your best.

If your child typically needs a break mid afternoon, maybe try your best to allow for that time for him or her.  Or if your child usually has some quiet music time in the morning, try your best to make sure that your day’s schedule will incorporate this.

When you are planning your week, allowing for and adjusting for these sensory needs helps your child enjoy the week as best as they can!


By this I do not mean make a schedule that is so full!  It means make a schedule of your week.  One that is done together with your special needs child.  For Elizabeth, a visual learner, this type of schedule that is right on the table and can be referenced as needed is very important to her and her days.

On the schedule we write down any and all things we are thinking of doing.  We write down times and who will be going.  We also write down what we will be doing for meals on those busy days so that if we are planning to go out to eat or order in, she can voice her opinion of what she wants. ( and trust me, she does!)

The point is that having a plan for the week helps keep the anxiety down.  It takes away the “what-ifs” and gives her time to plan for and adjust to this time off.   Because we all know that changes and transitions can be challenging to our special children.


Elizabeth and I do this all the time. We talk about her feelings, anxiety, excitement and more.  We work hard to make time to do this because allowing her to talk helps her feel better when stressed or overwhelmed.  It allows her to hear me as I tell her about our plans and other things.

For us, I cannot over emphasize the importance of these “chat times”   So if you can, make time to talk during the time off.  Kind of check in with them so that if they are struggling a bit, you can help them or make changes that make the time off enjoyable for everyone.


No, not to everyone!  But do not be afraid to decline an event or outing if your child needs the break or looks overwhelmed.   I have said it before and will again, more is not always better.    Being honest with those who are in your life and gently declining something is really okay.   Maybe go to a plan B, where other members of your family do something and your special needs child gets to sit it out.

Whatever way it works, acknowledging the need to decline is okay.  Not always easy, but okay.

So with our chalkboard indicating just a few more days left,  I wish everyone a peaceful, fun and memory making break!

Michele Gianetti author of “I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey” and “Emily’s Sister





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