One of the phrases that I say a lot is “the gift of Elizabeth.”
I use it to talk about the perspective that having her in our lives gives us.
I use it to talk about the love she has brought to our world.
I use it to talk about the way she has changed our lives and the lives of those she meets.
So with a thought to the last sentence, Elizabeth is blessed to have a big sister who loves her completely and unconditionally.
Emily is two years older than Elizabeth and on her way to becoming a physician.
When people ask Emily what kind of doctor she wants to be, she will usually say neurology. And this is due in great part to her sister and the disorders that she has: Dyspraxia and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)… the gift of Elizabeth.
Emily is one of the biggest champions for her sister and because of her sister, she has become vice president of the Developmental Disabilities Awareness Club at her medical school… the gift of Elizabeth.
And because of her sister, she was active in securing many speakers to tell their stories about life with a child who has special needs.
I was fortunate to be asked to speak to this group of soon to be physicians last week in honor of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.
I love that Emily has the kind of heart that understands the importance of raising awareness, acceptance and support for those affected by a disability… the gift of Elizabeth.
Before I talk about my experience last week... May I take a quick moment to tell you that one of the main reasons I wrote my book, I Believe In You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey, was to raise awareness for the disorders that affect Elizabeth. Because in my experiences, so many people recognize the disorders but do not REALLY understand them and how they affect people.
So I have always welcomed the chance to talk to groups and students with the hope of raising awareness and sharing knowledge.
I was very happy to talk last week because it is March and that makes it Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.
What a gift it was to tell these smart young people about the disorders of Dyspraxia and SPD.
What a gift it was to let them know how complex and amazing these children and young adults are.
And what a gift it was to tell them all Elizabeth has accomplished in her life.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience especially since my daughter, Emily, was by my side as I told our story. I loved being able to tell them what an amazing sister she has always been for Elizabeth.
I was given the chance to talk during this special month, but if we look we have many opportunities to help raise awareness in our everyday life.
So for those who have a special needs child in their life, take any and all moments to raise awareness for your child and their special needs:
- when talking to friends.
- in a store when someone asks about your child.
- at school, when an educator needs a bit of help.
The month of March is devoted to raising awareness for disabilities, but there are 11 other months that we can do the same.
So share and talk and help raise awareness… the gift of your child.
I wish everyone a peaceful month.
Michele Gianetti is a mom of three, registered nurse, and published author ("I Believe in You," "Emily's Sister"). She writes for TalkTools Blog every month about her experience caring for Elizabeth, her daughter with Sensory Processing Disorder and Dyspraxia. Follow her story since the beginning here.