Team GiaGia - Giancarlo, Rosalia, Elena Jenny, Carlos and family
Giancarlo is our friendly giant - a big boy with an even bigger heart. He feels everything intensely: anger and frustration, but also joy and love, and there is no one he loves more than his little sister Rosalia. It hasn’t always been easy for Rosalia to share the spotlight with Giancarlo. She doesn’t always understand why she is expected to do certain things independently while her big brother gets help and attention for the same tasks. She sometimes feels anxious and overwhelmed by her brother’s extreme feelings because sometimes he loses control over them. But at just 5 years old, she has already become an advocate for her brother, often explaining to friends that her brother plays and expresses himself differently but should still be included. Rosalia has also taken on a caretaker role, trying to soothe her older brother after a meltdown or “translating” his needs to others. Despite their special bond, Rosalia also makes sure that we recognize her as an individual, independent of the fact that she is a special needs sibling.
Giancarlo is also more than just his special needs. Yes, his Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, and Hyperactivity disorder tend to take a lot of space, but so does his boisterous laughter and big personality. In fact, when working with his team of educators to find solutions to his challenges, we must not only consider medication, behavioral and environmental factors but also that he is a seven-year-old boy who likes to have fun and can be a little mischievous at times, just like most seven-year-olds are! All of those factors came into play as Giancarlo recently overcame a huge hurdle at school and was finally able to integrate after several months of refusing to enter a classroom.
And then there is our village. The foundation that holds us up and keeps us glued together. Of course, mom and dad do what they can to help their kids be the best they can be, but at the heart of our close-knit family are Giancarlo and Rosalia’s grandparents, who provide much needed respite and daily support, and are team GiaGia’s biggest fans!
Autism Speaks Canada and the wonderful people I have met through their local work, have helped our family directly by gifting Giancarlo a tablet in partnership with Samsung, and also by organizing educational and inspiring workshops that I have had the priviledge and pleasure of attending, helping with issues such as long term housing, sleep disorders in kids with Autism, and financial planning. I've also witnessed the amazing work that Krista, the regional manager, does to raise awareness in schools, in the media, and has helped facilitate advocacy in the political world.
As many of you know, I have done some advocacy and awareness campaigns in the past. If you haven't already seen the Autism Awareness Campaign "Dans Ma Bulle", which Giancarlo and I collaborated on and was featured on Global News l, you can visit the website here: https://clauden3.wixsite.com/dansmabulle
Being a special needs mom is is a journey I never expected to take... but despite its challenges, it has been a beautiful one, and my tour guide is quite amazing!
Thank you for supporting us on this journey.
If you would like to know more about Autism, but don't know where to begin, I suggest you start here:
Elena Jenny for Team GiaGia
and Autism Speaks Canada
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