Archives for posts with tag: travel

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






I cannot believe it is school time. I know I have said it before but I still feel I need to say it again.

But Michael is starting school in one week. And Elizabeth? She starts the next part of her journey after high school, in three days.

So as I have been organizing school supplies and back-to-school clothes, I have been replaying the memories of Summer in my head.

I see the good things we did.

The fun things we did.

The new things Elizabeth did.

The fun things Elizabeth did.

I am using these last few days to kind of catalog the memories of our Summer.

One great part of the summer was our vacation. We had the most wonderful time together. We always do, but what separated this year from years before, was how organized, calm and mature Elizabeth was the whole time.

Trust me, those who are raising a child with special needs, know that to see maturity and a sense of calm, is a really huge thing.

There were years that it was a struggle for Elizabeth to go on a trip, let alone, relax and have fun.

But this year was her best trip yet. And was pretty great! Wonderful, actually.

So I am categorizing these memories.

I do it for the sake of my own heart. I want to remember them all. To hold them dear and to make sure I never forget.

And this brings me to the thing I have been thinking about this week.

That there are many times we need to simply enjoy the successes.

That we need to take a moment, just a moment, to REALLY see the good things that occurred.

Because Sometimes:

We know we are seeing growth.

We know we are hearing new words.

We know we are seeing new things attempted.

But do we really take the time to see them?

For those who are raising a special needs child, the littlest of successes can make our hearts soar for a long time. For example, I can remember one summer when Elizabeth pretended to have a tea party in the baby pool of our swim club. She was about four years old. To others, it was something that their child simply did. The other moms would nod, take the cup of “tea” and smile. But it was so different for me, I was smiling ear to ear, and I relished watching Elizabeth perform each task. For me, I wanted to get on the microphone at the pool and announce to everyone “Elizabeth wants to have a tea party and she is

doing it! By herself!”

The thing is, even if I had done that, so many of the other moms there would not have understood. Because unless your child has special needs, you really and truly cannot.

But I watched her with rapt attention as she

-Poured the tea

-Pretended to add sugar

-Pretended it was hot and she waited to “drink” it.

I was thrilled watching her do this! And my heart soared at the imaginative play I was seeing. I held onto this memory because at this point in her life, most things were pretty hard work for her.

So it is the little things we hold onto.

So, if I can offer, let yourself really see.

And take those memories and tuck them tightly in so they will be remembered. They can be a strength to you when you are low. When things are NOT going well.

And they are there for you to see that all the hard work is so very worth it.

So as I go back to my thinking, and remembering,

I hope that you will allow yourself the same gift.

To really see.

I wish everyone a peaceful week.


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