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HOLIDAY - Tips for Families

By Lynn A. Wood, M.A., CCC-A, LSLS Cert. AVT

Carving A turkey

People love holidays! Adults busily prepare for the festivities while children are abuzz with excitement. Traditions are passed down as family and friends gather. Below are suggestions so you can enjoy the HOLIDAYS and focus on your child and their listening skills and spoken language.

Holidays are about listening to joyous music, lively conversations and spending time with family and friends. Encourage your child to be the Holiday Host and greet visitors and take their coats. This will boost your child’s confidence while giving him a chance to talk face to face in a quiet setting. Role-play upcoming holiday situations and practice good listening strategies. Create a secret a signal so your child can notify you when he is having a difficult time hearing. Keep the holiday music off or at a low volume, as your child is likely not the only one bothered by clatter and background music.

Organize an email and send it your family and friends before you gather for the holidays. Write a quick update about your child’s listening and spoken language progress and his hearing technology. Dealing with this before the holidays will allow you to spend time celebrating rather than answering questions of well meaning friends and family. Provide some helpful strategies for being understood and your child’s favorite topics of conversation so they can all enjoy fruitful discussions.

Large family dinners are noisy so plan accordingly. One suggestion is ensuring your child knows the topic of the conversation. Consider using “conversation starter cards” around the table which are always fun. Also, have someone special seated next to your child who can repeat a joke or summarize a story if your child mishears.

Include your child in the holiday preparations and focus on vocabulary that is often specific to the season. What is mistletoe? A menorah? The Nutcracker? A manger? Spend time reading holiday stories, cooking traditional foods and learning the words to holiday songs. Your child can create decorations to hang around your home and tell guests about them when they visit.

Devices. Keep your child’s FM charged and ready to use. Role-play so your child is comfortable asking others to wear the FM and can explain how it helps him hear. At the dining table, place the FM mic in the middle or concealed in the centerpiece. If you attend a holiday performance or a faith-based service, contact the venue to request extra amplification such as a microphone, a hearing loop and captions. Another important device is your camera. Take photos to include in your child’s Listening and Spoken Language Experience Book.

Arrange seating with your child’s hearing in mind. Encourage your child to choose a good seat for hearing at dinner and for the gift exchange. Is there a seat away from the bustling kitchen, or the room where the teenagers are playing video games? When opening gifts, suggest sitting in a circle so your child can both listen and watch.

Your traditions are an important way to expand your child’s listening and spoken language skills. If gift giving is your tradition, choose presents that will provide hours of creative play and stimulate conversation. Most of your child’s memories will be about people, not presents.

Simplify. Ask your child what traditions he feels are most important. You may be surprised by his reply. Consider skipping old traditions that have lost appeal or that your family has outgrown. Time spent together rather than on activities will be most remembered. Keep a Joy Journal to jot down moments of triumphs, laughter, inspiration and the “hearing” miracles you enjoy over the holidays. 

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About the author:

Lynn is an Audiologist, and a LSLS Cert AVT who has worked with individuals with hearing loss and their families for over 30 years. She has a private practice specializing in AVT, post cochlear implant rehabilitation for children and adults and therapy for individuals with auditory processing disorder. Prior to opening the Auditory-Verbal Center of Wheaton in 1987, she worked in a variety of medical settings as a Clinical and Rehabilitative Audiologist, and as an AVT.

Want to hear more from our writer, Lynn Wood? You can go to her new blog, follow her Facebook page at the Auditory Verbal Center of Wheaton and on Pinterest.