Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Communication around the Holiday Table

The holidays are upon us! What do you envision when you hear the words Thanksgiving?

A big oblong table covered in food?

A turkey and ham?

Visiting with friends and family?



Now imagine the Thanksgiving table, but you can't hear anything. You see lots of people. You see lots of food. And you see lots of mouths moving and laughing. You don't know that there is music in the background. You didn't notice that Grandpa just said the dinner prayer. All of a sudden there is a line around the buffet table so you join in to get some food. All the kids jump up and run to the other room, but you don't know why. You carry your plate to the table and find yourself sitting among the adults. Hmm? Where did the kids go? You finish your food and go look for everyone and find them outside playing. You enjoy playing until they all run inside. Now what is happening? So you run inside too and find all in line for dessert! Yum! But by the time you get up there all the ice cream is gone and you have to settle for just a piece of pie. Everyone is laughing but you don't know what is so funny. You wander into the other room and watch the football game for a few minutes. Everyone is having a good time, but no one is talking to you. You can't follow any of the conversations because there are so many people talking at one time. You settle for playing outside or looking at a book until Mom says it's time to go home.

Holidays may be a fun time, but have we stopped to consider what our little special children are "seeing"? Here are some ideas to be sure our deaf children are included in the festivities:

1. If you can provide a round table, this is best for following a conversation.
2. Signing every conversation would be difficult and would probably bore your little one, but make a point to sign the funny things being said.
3. Pay attention to you child and make sure he/she is having fun and not being left out. Children are wonderful at getting around the language barrier. Let them play, just make sure your child is not being left out.
4. Give your child an opportunity to tell family members about his/her year.
5. And make sure that your child is aware when announcments are made - like when it is dessert time!!

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

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