There is a point when you realize that the holidays are coming (or it dawns on you that they are here) and you cringe. This does not make you Scrooge. It probably means you are already trying to figure out how to navigate all the parties, gatherings, and well meaning family and friends without losing your cool or becoming completely depressed with the loneliness that can come from special needs parenting.
Apraxia has it’s own set of challenges in that, like a lot of genetic and neurological disorders, it is not visible. It can also come with fun things like SPD, auditory defensiveness, dyspraxia, dyslexia, motor skill issues, etc. The people who love you but say unhelpful or insensitive things just don’t know. They don’t understand. They don’t know how amazing your child really is. They are probably lacking in education and understanding about your child’s challenges. So try to remember that (usually) even when it is less than helpful and a little infuriating, they love you and your child.
Tips for navigating the holidays with Apraxia of Speech
- CASANA has a fantastic page of downloads you can print to give to family and teachers. I recommend ahead of time, especially if this is your first holiday season with the diagnosis. Remember that they will not all “get it”. Some just can’t understand, some just won’t. Knowing you have made every effort to provide answers and allow them to ask questions will help you feel more prepared.
- If you know your child has sensory issues plan ahead. If you need to take comfort items, weighted blankets, etc. make yourself a note. In the hustle and bustle, important things can sometimes get left behind.
- It is OK to hover near your child until they are comfortable wherever you are. Our children need us to be their voices and while they are too young to speak up for themselves in other ways, sometimes they need our intervention and protection. Don’t be afraid to step in, especially for younger children, when you think play may be going awry or a relative is giving them a hard time.
- If your child is on a special diet, make sure the grown ups know. Especially if it is a younger child. Go ahead and bring a small lunch bag full of safe foods and drinks. Eating any way other than SAD (standard American diet) can be met with resistance and negative comments. Remember that it is your child and your decisions and that you are doing what you think is best and that is what matters!
- Therapy can get expensive. So can getting additional learning and speech practice toys and apps, Kauffman cards to use at home, and gas to get back and forth to therapy. Small homemade gifts from the heart or foregoing gifts for extended family and friends is totally OK. Do not let yourself or anyone else make you feel bad. You are spending money where it needs to be spent to best help your child.
- Don’t over schedule yourself or your child. It’s good to say no sometimes.
- Do NOT allow yourself to fall into the comparison trap when you watch other children play. Comparison is the thief of joy. Your child was made with a great purpose and will accomplish all they were meant to in their own time.
- Get a small notebook or make yourself a list on your phone of all the cool things, new experiences and precious moments that happen during this holiday season. It will bring lots of smiles and help calm you when everything seem too loud, too busy, and too much.
- I pray a short prayer before we go out. And sometimes while we are out if the need for a quiet tongue arises. You know the situations I’m talking about. Mine goes like this, “God, I need Your grace for this person and their lack of understanding. And Your hand over my mouth. Please. Amen“. Take a deep breath and walk out the door or away from the conversation. It has helped me immensely to have this short prayer memorized. Find one that works for you.
These are things that have helped us. We are still in the younger child stages. If you have an older child with Apraxia, please share things that have helped you during holidays and gatherings! Have a very blessed and wonderful Christmas and enjoy this time with your little ones!