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I have had many people ask me why it was such a challenge to find therapies, diagnosis or therapy items early on in Elizabeth’s life. I usually respond that “back in the day” awareness was so limited, there was no real open forums to find support or advice and there was really no internet to facilitate all the above.

For those who do not know, my daughter Elizabeth has special needs. She has global dyspraxia and sensory processing disorder (SPD). Her needs required much work and diligence to get the needed therapies and help for her.

Now flash forward some 20 years….. the internet is amazing, conversations happen in real time and we can find support and therapies in an instant. These are all wonderful things and for those beginning their journeys, help and support is readily available.

But one of the best things is that, awareness for any and all special needs is there! Those who do not have a special needs child hear about the puzzle pieces that represent autism support or the purple color that is the picked hue for DyspraxiaUSA. I had an experience last week that brought this to light for me.

Michael, my 13 year old son, was getting 4 teeth extracted to make room in his mouth. So we arrived at the oral surgeon’s office the day of the procedure, Michael was seated and the assistants were moving around him getting things ready. And as they did this, his heartrate, measured by the leads monitor on his finger, was reading much higher than normal.

It was his nerves and anxiety…this was to be expected. So I stood near him, rubbing his hand and trying to keep his anxiety in check when one of the older assistants said ” You know those things that weigh a lot, you know you put them on to help people feel calm…” to this I said “Oh, you mean a weighted blanket, yes! deep pressure is a good thing to help with anxiety for sure” She then said” We need to buy one and use it” It was here that I wish I would have brought our weighted turtle to the office. I made a mental note to ask about it, if we have a situation like this again.

But I think that raising awareness has made acceptance grow. And it is this kind of story that supports this.

So know that work that we all do for our children to advocate for them, to teach people how your child “works” and to speak up for your child each day help to raise the very awareness that makes conversations like I had with the assistant a reality. That our special needs community has made a difference!

Just something I wanted to share!

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




Mornings can be chaotic regardless of the circumstance. Between preparing schoolbags, making breakfast, actually getting through breakfast, packing lunches, walking the dogs, and trying to find your kid’s other shoe so you can leave the house already, morning mayhem is part of everyone’s routine! Being the parent of a special needs child adds an entirely different element of preparation to the day. But with a little planning, mornings could be a more seamless operation.Mother and daughter under blanket - Special Needs Essentials

1. Get Good Sleep

First and foremost, getting a good night’s sleep is paramount in shaping the next morning for success. It’s important to get on a consistent sleep-and-wake schedule, and stick to it. Try making your child’s room as dark as possible to help ensure a full night’s rest. Weighted blankets can help, too.

2. Develop A Ritual

Believe it or not, all children love rituals. But when your family has special needs, the discipline of a routine is essential. Make your mornings an orderly endeavor: do the same things in the same order every day, beginning when the alarm clock first rings. Time Timer clocks can help your child understand this routine better, in a visual way.

3. Promote Your Child’s Independence

Your child’s independence is the key, as it will save you more time for other tasks. Breakfast is an opportunity to help arm your child with more independence, which is achievable by using adapted tools at the table. Breakfast not only gives your kids the strength to face the day, but it also adds a great step to your daily ritual that your child can count on and even look forward to. Try these five products, all designed to promote your child’s independence in the morning.

1. Safety toothbrush

Safety toothbrush - Special Needs Essentials

2. Timer Timer

Time Timer with handle - Special Needs Essentials

3. Recessed lid cup

4. Non-sleep reel

5. Pencil grips (to use with silverware or toothbrush!)

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