by Ellen Doman
I think that I speak for all of the evaluators when I say that we want you to enjoy the holidays with your children and family. In order to really have a nice time without worrying about all of the things you are not getting done on program, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind.
Some “breaks” literally undo all of the work that you have done up to that point. For example, if we let our stimmy child stim for the holidays because we hate to have to redirect, we will likely undo months of work with that child and land in January with a child who is not attentive or communicative at all. So involve that child in holiday preparations as much as possible. Enjoy the unique activities, the change in how the house looks, the change of schedule, and perhaps going to new places that all may help that child to attend to what is going on and stim less.
For our children occluding, again a big holiday occluding break will bring havoc to previous progress. The day is long, and occluding can be done whenever and wherever you can fit it into the day. So as Tim Gunn says, “Make it work.” I would add make it fun as well. So maybe there are some special rewards for doing a great job of occluding during this holiday season. For teens, money may speak the loudest or little gift cards. For younger kids, we may do special holiday activities while we are occluding, such as wrapping gifts or putting up decorations.
When in doubt please check with your coach regarding the “must get dones” on your program. Be creative about how you fit that in with your holiday preparations. Remember that you can throw sequences in a million different ways, that stair climbing may just be a part of getting all of the decorations out, that story telling can be just a part of the holiday tradition, and shared reading can be that as well. So whether you are doing oral motor activities to the tune of your favorite seasonal songs or sit stands to them, your program will, in fact, fit in to these wonderful seasons.
We do appreciate that there are many demands on your time, so think about getting some seasonal help. Stores do it, so why can’t you? Cousins, neighbors, and relatives may all have time off during this holiday season, so don’t be shy—recruit! The reality is that you can’t DO IT ALL, so recruit help to work with your child or recruit help to cook, clean, and organize. Instead of going into the situation knowing that you can really get through this well, you will need to delegate.
Don’t miss the wonderful opportunities provided by the holidays to enjoy new things and old traditions with your child. Try to avoid the “let me get this done with my child so I can do what I need to do” thinking and turn it into “let me think how to incorporate my child into all that needs to get done.” Let’s take this opportunity to celebrate the real joy that our children can bring.