But, the holiday season also provides your family with a break from the ordinary. This includes time spent with extended family and friends, and also a chance to reinforce, and begin, family traditions.
However, jammed schedules and unpredictable routines, mixed with the sights and sounds of the holidays can add up to a season full of stress for your child with hearing loss.
Below are some ways that you can help your child manage their hearing environment and access throughout the holiday season.
Do you hear what I hear?
Extra noise in an enclosed space can be overwhelming. Holiday celebrations often have lots of people talking, background music, flashing lights, and decorations. This extra stimulus can be exhausting for your child to sift through in order to communicate.
If you are celebrating at home, designate your child’s bedroom as a safe “noise-free” place where they can retreat to. If you are out at a friend’s or relative’s home (or a restaurant) ask if there is a quiet spot that she can go to if necessary. Even a short break from listening and extra stimulus can help her make it through the celebration.
Take a break.
Adults are better equipped to power through a jam-packed holiday schedule of visits and special events. However, your child needs time to rest and recharge. Build in breaks throughout your day. Take the time to find a place where your child can rest prior to intensive events, such as a large family dinner or trip to a holiday show.
Taking a listening break can also be an important way to help your child recharge during a busy day. My idea of a listening break is having your child take out their hearing aids or remove their processors. My son has done this many times when we are in the car between events. He just removes his aids and sits back and closes his eyes, even 15 minutes can make a big difference in how he feels.
Trying to have a conversation in a noisy restaurant, or at a crowded table can be difficult for your child. Be mindful of where she is seated during holiday celebrations. The “kid’s table” can be a noisy place and your daughter might become frustrated if she is not able to join the conversation or if it is too noisy.
If you child does find herself at a large table help her figure out ways to converse with those who are closest to her so that at least she will be able to participate in some conversation.
Make it Accessible
Many holiday events such as religious services and holiday extravaganzas are held in large spaces. Plan accordingly for your child’s hearing access. Be sure to contact the venue to ask about extra amplification such as a microphone, or a hearing loop. And don’t hesitate to ask about preferential seating.
As you approach the holiday season the most important thing to keep in mind is to keep you expectations realistic. Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, author of Raising Your Spirited Child, suggests that when you sit down to make your plans for the holiday season, to write out your plans and then cut them in half.
Many parents, myself included, sabotage themselves from the start thinking they can do it all. Lighten up on the things you think you need to do, and focus more on the things that you and your family want to do to add meaning to your holiday.
To all my U.S. readers, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving with your family and friends. I will be back next week with regularly scheduled blog posts.
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