Here’s a guest post from dear CHC friend Dr. Krystyann Krywko about holiday hearing fatigue. At age three, Krystyann’s son was diagnosed with a hearing loss that wasn’t present at birth. She wrote a book about the experience — Late Onset Hearing Loss: A Parent’s Perspective of What to Do When Your Child is Diagnosed. Her story took another turn when soon after she discovered her own late-onset hearing loss; wearing hearing aids is a mother-son experience in the Krywko family! Having earned her Doctorate of Eduction at Columbia University, Krystyann is a researcher and writer on childhood hearing loss.
While the post is about children’s hearing fatigue during holiday events, lots of these tips apply to us grownups with hearing loss too.
4 Tips to Avoid Holiday “Hearing Fatigue” for Kids with Hearing Loss
Holidays provide your family with a break from the ordinary, time spent with extended family and friends, and also a chance to reinforce traditions. However, jammed schedules and unpredictable routines, mixed with the sights and sounds of the holidays can add up to a season full of stress for your child with hearing loss.
Do you hear what I hear?
Extra noise in an enclosed space can be overwhelming. “Holiday celebrations often have lots of people talking, background music, flashing lights, and decorations,” says Dr. Brad Ingrao, an audiologist based in Florida. “This extra stimulus can be exhausting for a child to sift through in order to communicate.”
If you are celebrating at home, designate your child’s bedroom as a safe “noise-free” place where they can retreat to. If you are out at a friend’s or relative’s home (or a restaurant) ask if there is a quiet spot that your child can go to if necessary. Even a short break from listening and extra stimulus can help her make it through the celebration.
Take a break.
Adults are better equipped to power through a jam-packed holiday schedule of visits and special events. However, children need time to rest and recharge. Build in breaks throughout your day. Take the time to find a place where your child can rest prior to intensive events, such as a large family dinner or trip to a holiday show.
Make it Accessible
Many holiday events such as religious services and holiday extravaganzas are held in large spaces. Plan accordingly for your child’s hearing access. Be sure to contact the venue to ask about extra amplification such as a microphone, or a hearing loop. And don’t hesitate to ask about preferential seating.
As you approach the holiday season the most important thing to keep in mind is to keep you expectations realistic. Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, author of Raising Your Spirited Child, suggests that when you sit down to make your plans for the holiday season, to write out your plans and then cut them in half. Many parents sabotage themselves from the start thinking that they can do it all. Lighten up on the things you think you need to do, and focus more on the things that you and your family want to do to add meaning to your holiday.
Krystyann is a writer and education researcher who specializes in hearing loss and the impact it has on children and families. She writes from a parental, as well as a personal, perspective, as her and her young son were diagnosed with hearing loss one year apart. She is the author of the e-book, Late Onset Hearing Loss: A Parent’s Perspective, and also blogs about hearing loss at lateonsethearingloss.org.