As I watched Elizabeth interact with her therapist the other day, I was happy to see her talk, react and share her opinion on the plans for their session.

I thought about how she was when she was young…without a voice. This was and is due to her global dyspraxia and its effects the muscles of her mouth.)

Or when she was in elementary school and just learning to talk…still without a strong voice.

Gaining her voice, with hard work, has given her the ability to communicate.

The ability to communicate helped her learn and strengthen her ability to be an advocate for herself.

….like she was doing with her therapist.

There are two kinds of advocacy, in my opinion. Self advocacy, like we just talked about and then the kind of advocacy that we do as parents and caregivers for our special needs children.

When we speak up for them when they don’t have a voice.

When we stand up for their goals and make sure their teachers know how they work.

When we join the education team around an IEP ( Individualized Educational Plan) table and push for the things we know our child not only needs but deserves.

That is advocacy.

And that kind of advocacy requires communication.

OPEN communication with any and all people who will be working with your child. In these uncertain times, communication is even more important.

If your child is struggling with a goal, or having a tough time with something at school….communicate with the teacher.

If your child’s IEP needs adjusted….communicate with the teacher.

If you need help teaching a skill to your remote learning special needs child…communicate this.

We are all team members for our special needs children….there should NEVER be an US and THEM philosophy.

Only a team approach to helping the child succeed.

And now more than ever does this need to be true.

I take my hat off to all those in the educational field for being asked last Spring to do the near to impossible on a days notice and for again, being asked to educate and care for our children during a pandemic.

Communication can only make the team stronger.

Find your voice for your child.

The support that they get from that will help them to grow and learn to communicate in their own way.

Just like Elizabeth and her therapist.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.

Please wear a mask! I always do, for my mom and others who could get really ill.

Michael, soon to be a freshman, son took a few moments out of his busy ( read, not really that busy) schedule to get his backpack in order. Our school system starts the day after Labor Day or September 8th.

I poured out of the store bags, all of the items that we had picked up for him for the year. Out came folders, spiral notebooks and pencils.

I watched for a moment as he took the haphazard pile of stuff and started to organize it. I then left to do something else and when I came back in he was done and asked me to look at it.

I noticed that he put things in his main binder in the way that he could easily find them and they way they worked for him. Maybe I would have not put the notebooks in the folders but it was his way. And it works for him.

Prior to doing this little project, we took the time to create a work space for Michael. One that would serve him well for nightly homework as well as a good place if (and let’s be honest…when) his school will go to remote learning. He and I had to talk about where we wanted to make this space.

He has a desk in his room but COVID learning taught us that that room is not really his best learning space. We also know from experience that being a one of the main floor rooms doesn’t work because of all the noises and distractions. So we decided on a space that offers a compromise so he is not alone but not distracted. We then brought the desk to that room and set it up.

My offerings from these events are:

-I think that knowing the way your child does things may not be your way or the way they learn may not be your way ( I am better in a quiet space) but that it is okay.

-And as much as we want to help our children learn and achieve it has to be done, my opinion here, with a nod to their opinion and choices. Maybe they do best right after school to do homework, maybe like mine, not until after dinner.

-Our way works for us.. theirs works for them. I can remember telling Emily, our oldest, then 13, just how to organize her room for the sake of getting organized and staying that way. So we did it MY way and I was so happy but it didn’t stay that way because I was really putting my way above any ideas she had. ( I am not proud of this moment but I will say for a short while that room looked great)

-I think that realizing the importance of listening to our children, typical or those with special needs, in the way they best communicate, is so important. It helps in creating a “team” approach to making some decisions together. Be them big or small. Decisions that can make life just that much smoother and easier.

The school year this year will be challenging. PERIOD so when things or issues come up, I want to know the thoughts and feelings of my children and I want them to know that their words and emotions matter. And that we can work through issues and situations together.

I wish everyone a peaceful week. Please wear a mask. I do for my mom and other’s who could get really ill.

Michele Gianetti

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