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Tips to make the holidays special for children with hearing loss

holidays with hearing loss

Holiday season is upon us, which may likely mean festive music, family gatherings and special traditions.

But all the noise and excitement around the season may also cause communication difficulties with your family and friends with hearing loss. 

To make the holidays even more enjoyable and special for adults and children with hearing loss, try these tips!

1. Hosting your guests

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.

2. Organize and prepare ahead of time

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.

3. Control large crowds

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.

4. Include children in the festivities

Include your child in the holiday preparations and focus on vocabulary that is often specific to the season. What is mistletoe? The Nutcracker? A wishbone? Jelly beans? 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.

5. Utilize technology

Devices. Keep your child’s Roger or 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 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 phone’s camera. Take photos to include in your child’s Listening and Spoken Language Experience Book.

Read more: How Roger technology at home benefits my child

6. Create good listening environments

Arrange to 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 when the teenagers are playing video games? When opening gifts, suggest sitting in a circle so your child can both listen and watch.

7. Focus on Traditions

Your traditions are an important way to expand your child’s listening and 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.

Read more: Holiday inspired cochlear implants and heairng aids 

8. Make it Simple

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.

Do you have any other tips for celebrating the holidays with hearing loss? Please let us know in the comments!

Author Details
Lynn A. Wood, MA CCC-A LSLS Cert. AVT- Lynn is a nationally recognized Listening and Spoken Language Specialist with over 35 years of experience. She is an audiologist by degree and specializes in pediatric LSL auditory verbal therapy, post cochlear implant auditory rehabilitation for children and adults and therapy for individuals with auditory processing needs. Listen With Lynn™ is her online store that offers Listening and Spoken Language tools, resources and activities for parents and professionals. Lynn is the founder of the Auditory Verbal Center of Wheaton and was one of the first audiologists to open a practice devoted exclusively to auditory rehabilitation.