Do you ever stop and think about all that our children carry, in a single day, to meet their needs? We load it up so regularly, we seldom reflect on it. At least, that’s how I feel.

But it hit home the other day. I was typing up an email to my 5-year-old daughter Elsa’s preschool teacher. I didn’t want any of the items to go unnoticed because a) I went to the trouble to pack them, and b) each serves a very specific need.

So I wrote out a list, which went something like this…

  • On the back of her wheelchair are two backpacks;
  • In the black backpack, you’ll find her large PODD book, her small PODD book and her Benik proprioceptive input vest;
  • In her small backpack, you’ll find her library book, her hearing exam report, EazyHold toy/utensil adaptors, arm stabilizer, and small flashlight (for pointing into the PODD book);
  • Also in the small backpack is a sandwich baggie full of valentines;
  • In the front pocket of the backpack is a candy cane for sensory play at snack time;
  • On Elsa, you’ll notice I clipped her “I have something to say” button on her shirt.

Holy moly.

I know I’m preaching to the choir, here. It’s likely the same for all of you. And this doesn’t even count the things that I put on her before strapping her into her wheelchair (hearing aids, AFOs) and the things I rush to take off at the last minute (diaper change, G-tube extension).

Are all of these items necessary? Define necessary. Each could be needed, during the day, to ensure she gets the best possible chance to succeed at school.

So yes. Necessary. It goes without saying she’s worth all of this effort, and more. But I’ll say it anyway.


Anitra Rowe Schulte blogs about being Elsa’s mom at



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