Tips for Families of Children With Cochlear Implants
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’s listening 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 cochlear implant technology. Dealing with this before the holidays will allow you to spend time celebrating rather than answering questions of well meaning friends and family.
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? A New Year's resolution? Spend time reading holiday stories, cooking traditional foods and learning the words to holiday songs. You child can create decorations to hang around your home and tell guests about them when they visit.
Devices. Keep your child’s CI accessories charged and ready to use. Role-play so your child is comfortable asking others to wear the FM, Roger system or use their ComPilot and can explain how it helps him hear. At the dining table place the accessory 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. Snap 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 when 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.