Tis The Season

By David Hyde

It is December, and this is the month that everything is different. If your child is one who thrives on routines, you already know that you can look forward to difficulties. The secret to success is to plan ahead. Now I know that this doesn’t always work. Nothing does. But here are some tips that may make the holiday season less stressful, and more enjoyable for all of you.

Make Lists. You’re going to do this anyway, so just add one more. Write down those things that both excite and calm your child. Try to bring those calming agents with you. Be prepared to stop what you are doing and use them. It may seem that you’re not getting everything you want done in the time you have allotted, but this strategy will make what you do much more enjoyable.

Explain things. There are different things going on this month. People outside stores ringing bells, the smell of evergreens, spices, singing, lots of sweet things, and the different textures of fur, shiny paper and ribbon. For some of our kids, Santa is nothing but something going “Ho Ho Ho,” and even meeting him doesn’t really explain him. It might be fun to dress your child up in a semblance of a Santa suit so he or she understands what the Jolly Old Elf is wearing.

If your child is a braille or large print reader, label the gifts (all the gifts) in the appropriate reading medium. This has several benefits. First, the children can find their own presents. Second, they can see that other people have them too. Next, it will introduce those who come to you on the big day to braille or large print, which can make them more accepting of your child.

If you can, involve your child in preparations. Things need stirred, wiped, held, folded, tasted, and washed. Now in fairness, sometimes it’s easier to do things without the help of any children, but most want to be a part of what has everyone so excited. I can remember that one of my jobs at four or five was to clean the beaters from the mixer when mom finished mixing some things. I enjoyed it, and sometimes, they were really tasty.

Talk about what you’re doing. “Ok, we have all these cookies on the sheet, so let’s put them in the oven.” Now you will probably not include your child in putting things into a hot oven, until he or she has reach an age when such things happen for most children, but it explains the sound, and the heat, and the smell of baking. This works with wrapping presents, decorating the tree, writing the cards, and making other holiday preparations.

Don’t be surprised if the box is more fun than the toy. Sometimes, it just is. They turn into so many things and can serve so many different purposes. Always keep a couple around.

If you can, get descriptive videos. These are videos where someone describes the action during pauses in the dialog of a movie or TV show. The Talkingbook and Braille Library in Milwaukee will have them for loan. It makes many movies comprehensible to those who can’t follow the action on the screen.

 Finally, have fun. That is the thing that makes this time so memorable for everyone. Memories of what we do this time of year last a lifetime, and become part of that family tradition which we share with our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, grandchildren and friends. Make some with your son or daughter who is blind or visually impaired. These memories will last a lifetime!

David Hyde is a Parent Liaison and the Professional Development Coordinator at WCBVI. You can contact him by email at david.hyde@wcbvi.k12.wi.us or by phone at (608) 758-6152 or toll free 1-866-284-1107 x6152.