By Cheryl Broekelmann, MA, LSLS Cert AVEd.
Director, St Louis Operations
More than 30 years of working with families has taught me that families are wonderful! In our family, we really love holidays and celebrate in one big, happy bunch (there’s 11 of us so we really are a big bunch!). But I also know, after years of working with families who are at the start, middle or even the end of our services, that holidays can be a little stressful. You may have just received a diagnosis about your baby, struggling with new listening devices or worrying about how to talk to family members about your little ones’ diagnosis. A little preparation for you, your family and your child can help everyone feel more comfortable.
- Help prepare your child by talking or showing photos about who will be there, friends and family and where you are going. For older children, pull up a map online and show them the route you’ll be taking. Talk or show photos about the meal, the weekend and what to expect in positive terms.
- Keeping a typical routine may help prevent meltdowns. But Grandma and Grandpa may want to spoil them with a late movie (just to have some time to snuggle), extra sugar before bed, (what can one piece of candy hurt?) or let’s go look at the beautiful Christmas lights (along with just a little more sugar). Remember as hard as it is to say ok you are building memories. Take lots of pictures so later you can help your child recall these special memories with language.
- This is a great time for language and listening! Talk with your child about what he’s hearing (Christmas music), seeing (turkey out of the oven all brown and yummy), and smelling (like that beautiful pumpkin pie).
- Don’t expect your child to perform his new speech skills with the whole family observing. Consequently, don’t compare your child to your cousin’s child who seems to be reading a dictionary at 5 yrs. All kids develop at different rates and have different challenges.
- Above all, enjoy this moment with your family. No matter what, this is your child first with her challenges secondary. Enjoy the look in her eyes when you view Christmas lights, the special tablecloth your mom always puts out, the way your Grandparents dance across the kitchen. Families grow and change over time – enjoy these days!