Archives for posts with tag: travel

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







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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