Archives for posts with tag: Games

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






When your child has special needs, seeing them achieve even the smallest of things can make your heart soar.

In our case, it did not actually make our hearts soar but leap a bit. You see, the skill she showed off to us was the ability to open a medicine bottle… the one with a safety lid!

She was sitting on my dads lap, and he had health issues so his medicine bottled (closed) was sitting on the middle of the kitchen table.  Elizabeth reached for it and shook it etc. But then to our surprise…opened it!

I know that this  one skill has many motor planning parts to it as well as gauging pressure on the lid to get it to open.  So once we grabbed the bottle from her we could then be in awe of her new skill.

It was a skill that she learned in her occupational therapy.  She was in this therapy from such an early age due to her special needs of Dyspraxia and SPD ( Sensory Processing Disorder). I can remember how she learned this skill and  it involved many sessions in therapy  as well as follow-up activities at home.

One of the ones that we used at the beginning of teaching this skill were these cool plastic nuts and bolts. The were big, colorful and inviting.  This toy helped her use both hands at the same time to accomplish a task.  Which for someone with Dyspraxia can be a hard thing to do because crossing midline, in any activity, can be challenge.  This toys helped her work on her fine motor skills and of course,  learn the twisting motion which led to her ability to look directly into a bottle of my Dad’s prescription medication, as I just shared.

I know how it is to want your child to do something right away.  But I have learned that it takes steps and practice.  So this toy I am going to tell you about would be one to consider as a beginning of teaching these bilateral hand skills.

It is called the  Tots First Chunky Pegs.  It checks off everything on the list:

-The pegs are big

-They are colorful

-They are inviting.

The idea of the toy is that the child picks up a peg, stacks on one similar in shape and build small towers with them.  There is a board that holds them all and on this board is where the building can take place.  The tops of each peg is a shape some are circle, square, triangle and star as well as ones that are 4 and 6 sided.

They are also in great colors of green yellow, orange, purple and blue.

+  So right away, I can see putting these on the kitchen table with some on one side of the child and some on the other and having them use BOTH hands to put them together. And BOTH hands to take them apart

+  I can see having the pegs on one side of the child and the board on the other and having the child CROSSS MIDLINE to put the pegs on the board.

+ I can see having them stack all the same color ones together and then use BOTH hands to take them apart.

+ Or putting them into a pile and counting them by color, shape or size.

And then of course, there is the one where they just get to play with it the way they wish.

In any event, it looks simple and says on the box it is for ages 12 months and up, but I can see some great things to do with them.  Maybe a nice idea for some “work” during  a quiet time.

Or put them in a plastic container to tuck into a sensory bin to have in your “arsenal” of sensory toys.  Especially if your child has a sensory diet that includes quiet activities and they like this kind of thing.

All things learned start with the first step toward the goal and toys like this make taking the first step kind of fun.

Just watch out for those medicine bottles once your child gets rolling.

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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