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I am writing this blog right after we returned from our vacation.  It ended up being a week off, with us being away 4 of the days.  We had the weekends at home.

Our destination?  Niagara Falls New York.

Specifically, The  American side of the Falls.

We are not passport holding individuals yet and true to our form we decided to head to the falls a little too late to hope the government would issue us passports in time.  So we headed to the American side of the Falls.  John and I had been to both sides many times but Elizabeth was two when we last went and Michael had not been at all.

So I took my own advice when I talked with Elizabeth about our plans for the trip. She is  my daughter who has special needs. I told her the where, when, what, why and who of the trip. With her sensory processing disorder ( SPD) and dyspraxia, new things create anxiety for her.  A trip represents a whole bunch of new things, so typically she will be more anxious prior to any trip and this kind of talking helps her know what to expect and therefore how to prepare herself for the new things.

I have learned the benefit of showing her pictures and videos of where we are going and what we are doing, so  I showed her some YouTube videos of the Falls, The Maid of the Mist boat ride and The Cave of the Winds, walk under the Falls.

I showed her pictures of the place where we were staying, the trolley we were taking and the island we were walking around.

I also had her help pack so she would know we had all the things she needs and likes.

She packed her own flashlights ( she hates the dark), DVD’s ( she loves to have them…just in case)

She helped me pack the food.

I have learned so much on this journey with Elizabeth; so has each person in our family and that is really the key to success.  I heard her brother telling her what a good job she did as we exited a super crowded elevator or when her Dad told her how proud he was that she did something new.

So how did it all go?  I would say pretty well.

She decided the boat ride was NOT going to happen for her and we understood. She also did not care for the crowded elevator down to the Cave of the Winds  but was willing to do it to get to the water.

She needed a daily schedule to look at to help guide her transitions and by the last part of the last day, she told us how much she missed her home.

I am proud of her because it was a busy trip. We walked between 5-6 miles each day and spent a ton of time outside!  But she has been taught to speak up for herself so she told us when she needed a break and when she was fine.

We made some wonderful memories and have some great pictures to look at. So I will call it a success!

If you are headed on your trip, I hope you make some great memories!

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







Why when I write the words vacation do I immediately hear   “The Go-Go’s?”

But it is that time of year!  Time for many to take that summer vacation.

And let’s be honest, vacations take A LOT of planning to accomplish.  From the lodging to travel to packing.  But add in the issue of special needs to the mix for many of us and that adds a whole new layer!

My daughter Elizabeth has special needs.  Specifically, global dyspraxia and sensory processing disorder ( SPD).  So simply put, these disorders affect everyday of her life.  We have learned over the years what it is we need to do to make  vacations successful.  It does take some extra thinking and planning but it is so very worth it. Read the rest of this entry »

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