Tagged "MIchele Gianetti"


How to Have a Sensory-Friendly Thanksgiving Dinner

Posted by Casey Roy on

It all began with an innocent piece of turkey on my plate on Thanksgiving when I was 11 years old.

I never really liked turkey but for the holidays prior, I was willing to drown it in gravy and hope for the best as I ate it.

But this particular Thanksgiving, try as I might, I could not get that turkey eaten. Four ladles of gravy, small bites and many glasses of water later, I still had not eaten it. I just could not tolerate the texture!

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FREE Tools & Webinar to facilitate back-to-school for the special needs!

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

Michele Gianetti, RN introduces her work with Monica Purdy, MA, CCC-SLP on helping parents of special needs children getting back to school smoothly. It includes a free checklist and article published in Parenting Special Needs, and a free webinar with TalkTools happening September 16, 2017 from 12-1 p.m. EST!

The end of Summer! Or is it?

I know it can be quite confusing when you enter into a store to buy stuff for a picnic and you are assaulted by the sight of mounds of backpacks and posters of smiling children all nicely dressed for the new school year.

The way retail works is like having life on fast forward. “Enjoy Summer but, in case you want them, the Halloween candy is freshly stocked in aisle 10.”

So we are faced with seeing the school year on the horizon a bit earlier than I would like. For me, the thought of a new school year kind of makes me nervous. Not so much from the idea that we cannot handle things, after all we have been doing this for a long time. But from the understanding of the amount of work it does take to make sure all the “t’s” are crossed and the “i’s” are dotted for a new school year.

There are a lot of things to get in order, and a lot of them involve communication of information.

From the home to the new educator.

From the therapist(s) used in Summer, to the home and to the school therapists.

From the home to the intervention specialists.

It does take work but it is, in my opinion, critical for success and growth.

My communications over the years have taken on many different forms but in the last seven years, we have settled on a communication system that works.

I have always been such a firm believer in the importance of communication between all the members of “Team Elizabeth.”

This is why I am so excited to share with you the article that recently got published in Parenting Special Needs!

The article was a wonderful collaborative effort with Monica Purdy who is a speech therapist, as well as on the TalkTools speaker’s bureau.

The article centers on the area of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).

The article contains some great PDF files of templates for communication with the school that I have used, such as:

  • The “introduction” letter which tells the new educator and staff all about your child.
  • The “Update” letter for the intervention specialists which provides them all the updates about your child since school ended in the Spring.
  • The daily communication sheet- which is easy to use and can be changed as needed.

These PDF’s can be very helpful, either in the form they are in, or as a baseline for you to use to make your own.

I invite you to read the article and hopefully, it will help you as you plan the start to a new school year. Or perhaps, it will give you guidance if you are just now starting your journey with your child.

Please watch this page for information about the free webinar that is happening next month based on the information in this article: "Webinar - SPD: Becoming an advocate for your child."

I wish everyone a peaceful August and hope to “see” you at the Webinar.

-Michele

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.

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Elizabeth: The Terrible Two's

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

The terrible two’s.

The tween years.

The teenage years.

Young adulthood.

These times are all markers of our live and the lives of our children. And we as parents are well versed in what to expect or at least what we are TOLD to expect during each these times in their lives.

We know that moods will fluctuate, attitudes will show themselves, peer pressure will mount and independence will be desired.

We are also told what to do, as parents, to guide them, educated them, keep them safe and oddly let them go.

But what does not get talked about or what is not as easily defined are the time frames of life that define those of a child with special needs.

For not always do the actual age of the child match the developmental age.

For not always do the expected moods or attitudes happen.

It is like every child who has special needs has their own game plan.

I speak from 19 plus years in on journey with Elizabeth.

There have been so many times in life that Elizabeth’s actions were not what was to be expected of a child her age or perhaps her emotions were delivered too strongly for what the situation was.

So as a result, the typical markers of life were never as clear to us as to others.

As Elizabeth has grown, it has always been hard to see a mood or hear a comment with a bit edge to it and wonder if it is because of her disorders or is it because she is 12 or 16 or 18 years old. Separating the disorder from the typical is hard.

Sometimes as I was thinking she was upset because of her SPD, my oldest child, Emily, would say something like “Remember Mom, I used to get like that when I was too tired.” Or “Mom, she is acting like I did when I was mad about something.” It was these reality checks, these windows to the typical that I would use when I was in this unfamiliar territory. Sometimes as moms to special needs children, we are so in the proverbial “trees” that we are unable to see the forest.

For the record:

  • Elizabeth does have moods- totally unrelated to her SPD or Dyspraxia.
  • Elizabeth does have a tough tone to her voice- again unrelated to her disorders.
  • Elizabeth has slammed a door, yelled that I am ruining her life and complained the “Nobody cares how upset I am!”

Elizabeth does NOT:

  • keep a clean room
  • do chores happily
  • pull herself away from television or her room easily.

Sounds pretty typical. Right?

It is.

But it is mixed in with the times that the moods ARE related to sensory overload. Or that the tone IS because she is frustrated by her Dyspraxia.

I have found that thinking of all the moods, tones, attitudes of Elizabeth, good and bad ones, kind of like sand on the beach that you sift through to get only the shells. It is like I have to mentally sift through the mood or emotions to finally get at the cause of the mood or attitude.

I try not to jump to the reason why.

I sift.

I think.

We talk.

And then I see the “shell.”

Then we talk more and depending on the “shell,” she is encouraged, hugged and we talk about what to do next or she has a punishment, revoked privileges or a required apology.

I will say that as I play back some really tough teenage moments with Elizabeth, I remember how I used to momentarily smile or laugh at the sound of her feet stomping up the stairs or hearing her tell us all that we needed to just “leave her alone.” It was like I relished the typical for that quick moment before I had to decide how to handle the typical.

I do know that making communication a priority when she was younger was a huge help as she has gotten older, but it is also doing the work to really understand your child, how they work and how their disorders affect them each day.

Our story is shared to make you smile, give a glimpse into our world and maybe help others on their own journeys.

I wish you all a peaceful month.

-Michele Gianetti

Michele 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.

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How Music Therapy Became Our Next Best Step

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

For those who have been following our story on this site, you know that Elizabeth has struggled with speech and language throughout her life due to her disorders of Dyspraxia and Sensory Processing Disorder.

And because of this, we have had some form of speech therapy throughout most of her life. I say a form of therapy because early on we did a great deal of oral-motor work. Later in life, we worked on articulation for her words to be well understood.

When I remember hearing her say no words and now I hear her saying so many words, I know how far she has come. There are still misarticulations but these are habits now, not words she cannot say. And because of her disorders, sometimes volume control is an issue. Even taking complete full breaths needs to be worked on. I always say “we are a work in progress.” But truly, we all are.

The thing is, she is 19 years old. So traditional speech classes are not necessarily the best fit for Elizabeth due to her age and maturity. So for us, we needed to find the next best step. So when a former therapist steered us to the area of Music Therapy, we took a good serious look.

The look led to a meeting, then to a class, then to several classes and now we have officially welcomed this therapist to the ever growing and ever changing “Team Elizabeth.” The best thing is seeing how excited Elizabeth is to go to the class. She loves the therapist, she loves music and asks to sing every night (we get homework each week) and it could not be a better fit.

I, myself, did not know as much about music therapy when it was first mentioned. But with some research prior to going, I found out some really great things. So I wanted to share it with you. Please check out the American Music Therapy Association's website. There is so much information about what music therapy is and what a music therapist does.

I am so glad our therapist could take some time to answer a few questions. So here is the interview. I hope it helps someone who is looking for the next step or even to add something into their current speech schedule. I thought I would share them with you, in the words of our therapist herself.

Can you tell me a little about music therapy?

What is most important for me as a music therapist is the personal connection that I make with my clients. If there is not a feeling of trust and security between the therapist and the client, there is little hope for growth. I feel so fortunate to be able to use music as the tool in which I help people make change. Music is a motivator for so many people, which makes this form of therapy successful when other forms may not have been. It can be used with ultimately any population or any goal area as long as the person is motivated by music. Whether the goal is speech based, emotional, or range of motion, music therapy can be successful.

What kinds of speech or language difficulties does Music Therapy most likely help with?

The beauty of music therapy is that it can be incredibly versatile. Whatever the area of need may be for an individual, music can almost certainly be used to address these goals. Examples of how it may be utilized are pronunciation, by making words rhythmic, oral motor goals, by playing wind instruments or utilizing a preferred song to address difficult words. These are of course, not inclusive, as music therapy will look different for every client.

What is Music Therapy?

Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.

Music Therapy is an established health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals.

How would a person go about finding a music therapist?

On the American Music Therapy Association website, there is a directory to locate all certified music therapists.

-Michele Gianetti

 

Michele 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.

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Time For A Mid-Year Evaluation

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

It is officially the middle of the school year. Okay, not officially-officially but to me it is.

I find myself looking at the middle of January and realizing that fact and think WOW, that time already.

It is after this thought that I know it is time do my mid year check.

By this, I mean, I take a mental look at all the areas of Elizabeth’s life and see what successes we have seen, what struggles she has had, what changes we should make etc.

For me, it is easier to do check-ins frequently and catch anything that may be amiss than to have small problems grow big. Also, if your school system works like ours, February is the month of the second conference time. What better than to do this mid-year check and arrive at the conference time with clean, organized thoughts.

So with that in mind, here are some thoughts to help if you wish to do the same.

MAKE A LIST OF ALL THE AREAS OF YOUR CHILD’S LIFE

  • speech
  • O.T.
  • Socialization
  • School work
  • Outside activities
  • Things at home
  • Anything else you can think of

WRITE DOWN THE POSITIVES AND YOUR CONCERNS FOR EACH

Here is the time to be honest: if something has been bothering you about a class or therapy, write it down.

ORGANIZE PLAN FOR EACH AREA THAT YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT

  •  Some things may be going along great but for those that tug at your heart do the above.
  • It helps to know who you need to talk to about the concerns. Which teacher or therapist.
  • If I had a concern about speech and Elizabeth’s work in a class. I would know I could address this concern with both the speech pathologist and intervention teacher present. This way I could have everyone on the same page at the same time.

WRITE DOWN THE CONCERNS FOR OTHERS TO READ AND KEEP

  • I am a firm believer that something written down and handed to a professional quickly helps them see just what you feel in a nice orderly way.
  • Also, it is such a good idea to have a copy to show you did address these concerns or did discuss them with the teachers and therapist.

MAKE A PLAN TO REVISIT THE CONCERNS

  • I always thought that to check back in with the teachers in about two to three weeks was a fair time.
  • I would watch for any communications that would come home from the school on Elizabeth’s communication notebook.
  • I would talk to Elizabeth about the concern.
  • I would contact the teachers or therapist at the agreed upon time.

I am not saying that there will be a situation or concern at this time of year. But we all know that IEP time is coming, plans for summer are on the horizon and life for our children is one big fluid situation.

So my thought is stay that one little bit ahead so that you and I don’t have to run to fix something for our child.

I wish you all a calm and if it is winter where you are, cozy month.

-Michele

Michele Gianetti writes for TalkTools Blog every month about her experience caring for Elizabeth, her daughter with Sensory Processing Disorder. Follow her story since the beginning here.

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