The Power of Teamwork and Listening: Our Journey with Elizabeth

I know that many people ask me how I did or rather, better, how WE did all that we did for Elizabeth?

How did you know what to do? Is another question that I get all the time and the truth is that throughout the journey with Elizabeth we have had the good and blessed fortune of having some really wonderful people on her team.

We call the “Team Elizabeth”

These people range from educators to therapists to friends to others who know others. And sometimes they were on the “team” for a little bit and some of them have been on the “team” for over 20 years. The point in all of this is that it does take a team to make it work. The journey with a child with special needs means you really do need your “team” or community.

I would NEVER in one hundred million years been able to think about what to do next for Elizabeth when she was young and in the deep throes of her SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder)



I think crying was one of the things I knew I could do, and I did it often, but actually thinking, sorting and assessing her needs was not what I could do.

But what I COULD do was listen and listen well to the the people who knew more than me, the people who because they were far enough from the scene….could see what I couldn’t and help where we were lost.

Something that I learned to do early on the journey was to listen and listen well.

We learned to do follow ups at home and reinforce new skills, topics, and more all throughout her day.

And our Elizabeth emerged from the layers of SPD and dyspraxia to learn to talk and grow more and she began to enjoy her life.

This is what we did and this helps to answer those questions I talked about above.

We are now looking at our 25 year old young adult. Who has come so far in her life. And will actually be turning 26 years old soon.

We still have a team in place and some of the old familiar faces still take seats of honor and others are new but that fact remains.

We still need a team.

And I/we still need to listen and listen well.

Because I will tell you that life with a special needs child/ young adult/adult does not stop being full of challenges and situations that are new. Ones that you simply DO NOT know that next step to doing.

So having your team or persons to rely on to guide you is huge.

It is like the phrase goes You can’t see the forest for the trees

And that is us. At least I am speaking for myself, but I know there are times that I am so knee deep in a morning’s work or situation with Elizabeth that I literally cannot see a single “tree”

And that is why I am so grateful for those around me who can and who feel comfortable telling me what they think or offer opinions and help.

They know that I/we listen and listen well and that we appreciate them and their expertise.

And even for the little things in life too

So how about a little story from a few weeks ago to help illustrate this whole Forest and the Trees thing.

My one dear friend, who has known Elizabeth over 23 years, said “How about making Elizabeth’s room into an apartment? She should have that now that she is 25.”

HMMMMMM? I thought, you know you are right. Followed immediately by the thought of why didn’t this even cross my mind?

I put this thought away and then we all talked about it and Elizabeth loved the idea.

Truth be told, I had not thought about that. NOT. ONE. SINGLE. TIME.


Forest and the treesForest and the trees.

But did we do it?

Yes! We did and she loves it and the independence it creates and brings. From small areas in her room,.to the mini frig, SHE LOVES IT! The areas are where she sleeps, watches tv, relaxes in her chair and has an open area in the middle. It really is great and it has made her feel more her age!

I love it too!

I just want to say that in all this:

Don’t stop listening and listening well to those you trust.

No matter how old your “child” is.

I wish everyone a peaceful month.

Michele Gianetti

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