In March of 2012 I read and reviewed I Believe in You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey by Michele Giannetti. In April of that year we learned more about Michele Giannetti when she took part in our Author Interview Series. Since then, when I see a post by Ms. Giannetti about Elizabeth, her daughter with dyspraxia and sensory processing disorder (SPD), I always read it and silently cheer at Elizabeth’s accomplishments. One that stands out is the medal she won at an art show in May 2016.
I Believe in You: A Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey chronicles the first twelve years of Elizabeth’s life, her second child. 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.
The team at Special Needs Book Review was pleased to learn of Michele Giannetti’s children’s book, Emily’s Sister: A Family’s Journey with Dyspraxia and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). We congratulate Michele and illustrator, Tanja Russita, on their delightful book! We also thank Michele for sending us a PDF copy.
About Emily’s Sister:
If you have more than one child and one has special needs how can you explain these needs to the sibling(s)? Michele Gianetti’s beautiful children’s book titled Emily’s Sister: A Family’s Journey with Dyspraxia and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) helps siblings, classmates, friends, and family members understand the challenges faced by families and individuals with special needs. The book is for siblings of children like Elizabeth and it is written from Emily’s perspective. Emily is Elizabeth’s older sister.
The 5 chapter, 66 page book is illustrated by Tanja Russita. Children reading Michele Gianetti’s carefully chosen words supported by Tanja’s lovely illustrations will be able to relate easily to the characters. Based upon real family experiences, Emily discovers how to understand and help her sister live a happier life.
This book is printed in the Dyslexie font, the typeface for people with dyslexia, though it is great for all children. Go to www.dyslexiefont.com to find out more about the typeface.
As this book is written in a child’s perspective, it enables young people to ask questions of the story in a non-threatening way and encourages them to discover how it relates to them. The conversations between characters puts the reader right there and the child reading this story will be waiting to hear the answers. The questions Emily poses to her mom about her sister with special needs are most likely the same any child in the same situation has. Adults sharing this book with a child will find many conversation starters to help siblings, friends, and classmates understand the needs and behaviors of children with special needs.
Emily’s Sister, written by the parent of a child with Dyspraxia and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), paves the way for parents, teachers and medical professionals to discuss these specific learning difficulties with children (aged around 7-9).
Excerpts from Emily’s Sister: A Family’s Journey with Dyspraxia and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
Emily woke up, rolled over and then remembered! Today is my day with Mom, she grinned. I wonder what we are going to do? And with those happy thoughts dancing behind her eyes, Emily got up. She carefully made her bed and picked up the stuffed animals that had fallen on the floor during the
Page 18 and page 19
Emily took a deep breath, “Then I heard you tell Matthew’s mom that Elizabeth has Diss-something.”
Emily’s Mom pulled her in for a big hug. It was now her Mom’s turn to take a deep breath. “Honey, your sister Elizabeth is not sick. Please know this and believe me. Okay?”
Emily nodded and wiped away the tears from the corners of her eyes.
“Daddy and I took your sister to a special person who helped us figure out what your sister does have.”
“Your sister has something called Sensory Processing Disorder, which we call SPD for short. And something else called Dyspraxia. I know those words sound strange, but I will try to help you understand.”
“Well,” said Mom, “that probably would not help her yet. She isn’t ready to try lots of new things right now. And she would feel very uncomfortable if we did try to make her do them.”
Page 24 and page 25
“When music goes into your ears, your brain tells your body to dance. But when music goes into your sister’s ears, her brain sends a message to her body that the noise is too loud. This makes her want to shut out the sound. And because she can’t, she cries.” “This is what happens to your sister for many things she feels, sees and hears,” finished Mom.
Emily nodded and looked down at her feet, knowing she didn’t really understand. “You mean she hates everything?” Mom smiled. “No honey, she doesn’t hate everything. Her brain sends a bunch of wrong messages, making her feel nervous when they won’t stop. But she doesn’t hate everything.”
Emily remembered learning something at school about how nerves carry messages from the brain to the muscles in our arms and legs. This is how we make them move. Mom carried on, “With this D-word, the messages the brain sends to Elizabeth’s muscles don’t get listened to in the right way. Kind of like the messages get muddled up.”
What Is Dyspraxia?
A person with dyspraxia has problems with movement, coordination, judgment, processing, memory, and some other cognitive skills. Dyspraxia also affects the body’s immune and nervous systems.
Dyspraxia is also known as motor learning difficulties, perceptuo-motor dysfunction, and developmental coordination disorder (DCD).
According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, individuals with dyspraxia have difficulties in planning and completing fine and gross motor tasks. This can range from simple motor movements, such as waving goodbye, to more complex ones like sequencing steps to brush one’s teeth.
Individuals with dyspraxia often have language problems, and sometimes a degree of difficulty with thought and perception. Dyspraxia, however, does not affect the person’s intelligence, although it can cause learning problems in children.
Harry Potter star, Daniel Radcliffe, has dyspraxia… Experts say that about 10 percent of people have some degree of dyspraxia, while approximately 2 percent have it severely.
About the Author:
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. She and her husband, an Internal Medicine physician, make their home in Ohio. They are also parents to their older daughter Emily and son Michael. Seeing the love between her children, through it all, was the motivation for Gianetti writing this children’s book. The hope is that by helping siblings understand their special brother or sister, it will help draw them closer as friends.
Gianetti also wrote a book about her daughter’s life and journey with dyspraxia and SPD titled ‘I Believe In You: a Mother and Daughter’s Special Journey’. Links to our review and where to buy it are below. The author maintains a blog on her website, which is devoted to her daughter Elizabeth, at www.michelegianetti.com as well as a Facebook page titled the same as her book “I Believe In You”.
Follow Michele Gianetti:
About the Illustrator:
Tanja Russita lived in Tromsø, a Norwegian city above the Polar circle. Now her family has moved to Uppsala, Sweden. An experienced self- and traditionally published illustrator. You can browse her books here: http://www.amazon.com/Tanja-Russita/e/B00JT9QF7A
She has degrees in Chemistry, Social work and Social psychology, worked a lot with toddlers, children and teens with special needs and in crisis situations. She draws and describes her pictures in words both in Russian and English. When she does it in English, she asks her colleague and friend Jim Blyth for proof-reading.
She is married and has two children.
Follow Tanja Russita:
Info about Dyspraxia: http://www.dyspraxiausa.org/
Info about Sensory Processing Disorder: http://www.sensory-processing-disorder.com/
Buy Books by Michele Gianetti: