Archives for posts with tag: School

I have a friend, Jen. She is Elizabeth’s tutor actually but we consider her a wonderful friend.

She is an amazing person, friend, educator and mom.

She has a daughter who is now in Kindergarten and throughout the time we have been getting Elizabeth her tutoring, I have watched how her daughter has grown and developed. I tend to notice many things about child development because of Elizabeth and her struggles and hard work.

So as I am watching her daughter write her letters, I notice she has an amazing mature grip on her pencil. The kind that older children develop after a long time. I told Jen this and she smiled and said that that was something they had been working on for a long time and that she was proud of how well she is doing.

So flash to a year later, and this little girl handed me a Valentine that she had written and I again, noticed how great both the penmanship was as well as her spacing of letters. I think I said “Wow!” and again, Jen said how hard they work.

This whole writing thing made me take pause as I reflected on Elizabeth’s ever evolving journey to write well. With her special needs, specifically Global Dyspraxia, writing is hard work. Keeping it neat is hard work, organizing thoughts to put down on paper is hard work.

This is par for the course for those affected by Dyspraxia. For some these hand-writing skills are affected a little bit, and for others, like my daughter, they are affected a great deal.

With so much going on in her life when she was younger, I can honestly say, I do not really remember how she learned to hold a pencil well. I want to say it was when she was being home-schooled, about age 6. I know I tried to encourage this skill of writing and also coloring which also helps promote imaginative play. Honestly, it was simply too frustrating for her. She would hold the little crayon in this claw like grasp and kind of swipe at the paper with long arm strokes.

I did not know how to teach Elizabeth proper grip. One thing I know now that I did not know then is you can use jumbo sized crayons as a fine motor tool to help strengthen grip and hand muscles.  

At the time, I was wanting her to use a typical sized crayon or pencil because that is what I though was what she use, but what I did not know was that using the super jumbo crayons, and working toward the typical sized crayon was what Elizabeth needed to grow her hand-writing skills.

The Super Jumbo Crayons, on our site, are the ones I am referencing. They are thicker in width and allow for little hands to hold and grasp with ease as they develop the fine motor skills to advance them to a smaller size. The Jumbo Crayons are good for the typically developing children, but what I know now is that they are really helpful to those with special needs.

I think using these Crayons will allow a child to have success in those activities, that most enjoy, but maybe a child with Dyspraxia or other special abilities would struggle with doing. 

I can use my oh-so-clear- hind site to see how nice it would have been to not only allow but encourage the use of these Crayons back in the early developmental days.

And something else to think about is the fact that using them at home in adjunct with guidance from your child’s occupational therapist will encourage success. Also good to know, is that in our sensory world, crayons were never offensive to Elizabeth. Unlike painting or markers.

I know that the Super Jumbo Crayons will be an easy and fun addition to any therapy bin. So if you think these might fit your child’s needs, please take a look on our site.

And also know, that all skills take time to learn for children like Elizabeth. And that each step, each growth is a success to be celebrated!

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”


Raise your hand if you cannot believe that the school year is half way over! I am sure that a lot of you have those hands up. And I include myself in that number.

My son, Michael was telling me about his grades, how he was finishing up his one paper so that he could get back some points for doing the corrections. He said he wanted to make sure to get all this done by Friday.

So I ask him why Friday? To which he looked at me and said that it was the end of the second grading period. Wow, I thought, no way. Then I thought why is this something I did not notice? To that question I have no real answer. Other than I was just participating in our day to day life so much so that I did not actually notice how many of these days had passed.

So with that startling information in mind, I started thinking about what that marker of the second half of the school year means to me, Elizabeth and life with special needs child.

It is usually at this half-way marker, that I learned to do a couple of things.

To really help evaluate how the year is going, here are 7 helpful tips: 

  1. Look at recent school papers, see if they are showing the advancements that you want to see.
  2. Look at the therapy goals for your child, how do you think they are being met? Is there anything you want to talk to the school therapist about?
  3. Read ( or if you are me, reread) the IEP goals- see if the progress towards those goals is happening.
  4. Talk to your child, if they are able, ask them how they feel about school, is there anything going on that bothers them? Worries them?
  5. Think about how your child comes home from school, are they calm? Nervous? Or stressed?
  6. Is there anything going on at home that might be affecting your child at school? Maybe consider sharing this with the teacher.
  7. Is there any information from private therapist that should/can be shared with the school? Don’t forget, sensory diets need adjusting and sensory needs change, so sharing is so important.

I know for me, this time of the year was one when some teachers and therapies at the school, if things are going well, get on a sort of autopilot. And truthfully, it does just kind of happen. I mean the days become repetitive and time passes. But this kind of check in, in my opinion, allows for a fresh look and update at what may have become rote. (By my own admittance, I lost track of time this year for Michael. )

So please know, it is not a finger pointing fault thing, but a let’s evaluate this year and adjust kind of thing.

And the perfect place to have this conversation just happens to be right around the corner and its name is conference night.

Conference night for us comes around the second week in February. I can remember the first year Elizabeth was in school and we showed up for conference night having done none of the above things, and actually not bringing anything into the classroom. No papers, notes or IEP, no notes from private therapists. Pretty much just us. And it did not go well. We were ill prepared for the conversation that happened and the concerns the teachers shared. So I offer this information out to help others skip that kind of night.

I know many of us check in frequently with our schools and teachers and I know many of great ways to communicate daily, which is so helpful so maybe think of this time like you would the doctor. Just like you go to the doctors for a check-up, you can use this marker of time to do a check-up for your special needs child.

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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