The holiday season can be a stressful time of year for anyone, but when you’re trying to make the season special for disabled children as well as everyone else in your life, you’ll find it becomes tenser than ever. You know that raising your disabled son or daughter brings additional challenges, atop those that come with conventional parenting. Still, while the holidays bring about further challenges, they don’t need to overwhelm you. The holiday season can be special for your little one, whether they have hearing loss or any other disability. Read on for some tips on how to make the holidays special for an infant or child with a disability.
Put thought into your gifts.
Like any other child, disabled children are sure to be looking forward to receiving gifts this holiday season. By putting a bit of extra thought and effort into your gift-giving, you can make your present even more special. Consider any special interests they have and how you can show your love and support through that lens. Or, for a more minimalistic approach, consider a unique experience as a special gift. Investing in a pediatric hearing screening, for example, can be a great way for young children a head start on tackling hearing loss or other issues before they worsen. You can make a fun trip out of the day, so that it’s not all about your kid’s hearing loss. Take a trip to a favorite location on your way to the audiologist, and even get them a treat like ice-cream on the way back. he hearing screening can be a part of a special day you spend together.
Don’t push them too far.
Thoughtful gift-giving isn’t the only opportunity for you to consider your child’s disability in terms of the holidays. Depending on their needs, be sure to watch your son or daughter throughout the holiday. For many disabled people the sights, sounds, and stress of the holiday season can be overwhelming. Whether it’s a party at school or an event with family or friends, make sure your child isn’t overstepping their limits in the name of festivities. If your child has an appointment with their audiologist or pediatrician in the morning, rescheduling your afternoon gift exchange can give them the time to rest and recuperate. Young children of all abilities benefit from a nap between activities in order to rebuild their endurance from one event to the next.
Let them enjoy themselves.
While it’s important not to push your child too far, that doesn’t mean they should miss out on the opportunity to enjoy the season. Believe it or not, some festive activities might actually help your son or daughter to better handle their disability. The health benefits of ice skating, for example, mean your child can increase their confidence and feel a little extra holiday joy. An infant may not be able to ice skate, but some young children start ice skating as early as just two years of age. Ice skating is a skill they can take into adulthood that will always bring them joy.
Singing Christmas carols can help with language development, while being around family and friends can help boost your child’s social skills and improve their mental health. If you have any concerns about a particular activity being a risk factor in aggravating your child’s condition, consult their pediatrician for suggestions or expertise.
Whether you have years of experience or you’re new to parenting a disabled child, a little advice from fellow parents or disabled adults can go a long way. Resources like trulymama.com can let parents connect with other parents to share stories and tips for making the holidays—or any time of year—a little easier. Not only that, but building connections with other moms and dads can let you feel less lonely, a worthwhile feeling at any time when parenting a child with disabilities.
Give yourself a break.
As you work to make the holidays enjoyable for everyone, remember that “everyone” includes you. Parenting a disabled child is a challenge year-round, but the holidays make it more stressful than ever. Making self-care and other personal time a priority can help you to stay happy and healthy throughout the holiday season—and make you a better parent in the process.
From striking a better balance between ice skating parties and audiologist appointments to turning to fellow parents for thoughtful gift ideas, a bit of effort can reward you and your child with an especially special holiday this year. You can’t wrap the holiday spirit in tissue paper and pass it to your son or daughter, but by taking the time to create special memories and give thoughtful gifts, your child will be smiling all season long.