I Believe in You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey by Michele Giannetti,R.N., chronicles the first twelve years of her second child’s life. Elizabeth was diagnosed with dyspraxia and sensory processing disorder. This book is about persistence, perseverance, and the power of a mother when it concerns the well-being and future of her child. I can assure you there is no more powerful advocate for children than a parent armed with information and options. Michele Giannetti researched tirelessly to find information and options for her child with special needs. The part most parents will be able to relate to is the boundless love of this devoted mom who fought tooth and nail for the world to bend and believe in her Elizabeth. I recommend this touching story of a mother’s love filled with advice for parenting a child with special needs.
Michele leaves no stone unturned in her quest to get what is best for her child. This family’s winding journey relates the tremendous work that was required for their daughter to try and catch up, to grow, and change. The book ends with Elizabeth ready to change into Middle School and all this hard work paid off as this young girl seems to have a better chance to cope with what the future holds.
Challenges and Advice on Bringing up a Child with Special Needs
Michele Gianetti finds strength from her faith, her family, and in her sheer determination to have others see her child’s potential. Throughout the book, Michele feels something was always missing in the support/services “the system” gave Elizabeth. She wrote, “I wished everyone would please do as we asked and would believe in her as deeply as we did.”
This is a story about a daughter who will always have her special ways but who is finding her way and a mom who viewed their life as a game of chess. Ms. Giannetti writes, “…with every move needing to be thought out and analyzed completely before it is made. As each move is critical for Elizabeth I don’t take my hand off the chess piece until I am sure I have weighted each outcome.”
These twelve years in the life of the Giannetti family is woven with advice to other parents on how to navigate the systems: health care, early intervention, educational, and even how to deal with insurance coverage. Michele reveals in a journal format what happened and points out tips for others to follow or pitfalls to avoid.
- I say go to the school and spend some time talking to the special education teacher and the mainstreamed teacher about your wishes and goals.
- I say the one thing that kept and still keeps me going is to see how much growth she is making and the positive changes we keep seeing. … allow yourself to take a pause to reflect on the good things that your child has accomplished . It really does fortify you for the next round.
The reader learns about Elizabeth’s dyspraxia or difficulty with motor planning. We all need motor planning to do any task from brushing our teeth to tying our shoes so problems in this area affect ones whole life. Elizabeth also has severe Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and throughout the book we witness the strategies used to help her cope with her daily sensory challenges.
I know it made me say okay, we are in this for the long haul … I was no longer waiting for her to be better or to get better. I was working to make her the best she could be. Each day, everyday. We now saw this as the marathon that it was.
Like stepping stones in a rushing current, Giannetti adds inspiring passages here and there that will make readers value hope, encouragement, and happiness sprinkled in tiny doses throughout our lives. Here are some of my favorites.
- God gave us these challenges and through them, the good things were so magnified that a simple walk on the beach to others was okay, but to us it was the most amazing gift. … Each and every little thing and gift of time and love does not go unappreciated. That is one of the gifts of our Elizabeth.
- I know it made me say okay, we are in this for the long haul … I was no longer waiting for her to be better or to get better. I was working to make her the best she could be. Each day, everyday. We now saw this as the marathon that it was.
To keep it real, this mom opens up her heart and readers see the hardship, the crushing grief and pain it sometimes is being the mom of a special child.
- I was always running interference for her, and it was exhausting and really futile because you cannot anticipate all things, and something would always occur that was unexpected.
- I so hated the stares and judgemental looks, that I wanted to be in and out of places before anyone could have the time to notice her.
- I would hold my heart together as it got crushed each time I saw other moms with typical kids.
As a mom and grandmother of children with special needs and as a retired teacher with 30 years in elementary classroom I have been on both sides of the IEP table. When working with your child’s school, the one thing that will bring the best outcomes for all parties concerned is when both sides work respectfully together for the benefit of the child with special needs keeping in mind the needs and rights of all the other students in the class. This is to say, sometimes I found Ms. Giannetti was too critical of the teachers and other professionals in her fervent zeal to help her child. However, like Marianne Russo president of The Coffee Klatch often says at the end of her shows, “You are your child’s best advocate, if not you then who, become an informed, educated parent”. Therefore I understand this mom’s devotion for her child with special needs.
This is a no frills book except for a few pages of twenty colored family photos with captions in the centre of the book. My biggest complaint is how difficult it was to hold the book open just to read it. I feel I have been fighting with the book from beginning to end! It took two hands at all times making it awkward to write notes for a review.
All parents, especially those of a child with different needs, will find strength and hope by reading Michele Gianetti’s I Believe in You. And they will certainly wish to find a state of harmony in their lives as depicted on this books beautiful front cover.
Michele Gianetti is a registered nurse, who previously worked as a school nurse before becoming a stay-at-home mom and eventually an advocate for her second child, who has special needs.
I saw the author has started a blog and most likely those who will read I Believe in You will enjoy following along as Michele, her husband and their three children leave Elizabeth’s elementary school days behind and face her teen years.
Read our interview with Michele Gianetti here.
I Believe in You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey on Facebook
Info about Dyspraxia: http://www.dyspraxiausa.org/
Info about Sensory Processing Disorder: http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/
This book is also available for purchase as an eBook download - Tate Publishing