The typical Christmas checklist for parents is marked by rushing from store to attraction to activity; somewhere on that Christmas checklist is probably also a “Santa’s Lap” photo-op. Christmas preparation when parenting a disabled child is slightly more complicated.
Holiday Airline Travel with a Disabled Child: Allow Extra Time
The Christmas checklist for parents of a disabled child ready to travel is a mix of preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. Depending on the child’s disability, factor in extra time for maneuvering your child and any assistive equipment through throngs of fellow travelers, who may not always know to make some room when you pass through. When traveling by air, consider choosing a smaller airport that is less busy than the city’s main travel hub.
Christmas Preparation for a Hotel Stay: Organize the Childproofing
This is not on your typical Christmas checklist for parents; that being said, if you stay at an unfamiliar venue, you most likely have to do some childproofing to ensure that your disabled youngster will not get entangled in curtains or cords from the blinds, unwittingly wanders unto an open balcony or encounters other potential risks affecting her/his personal safety.
When booking your stay (depending on your child’s disability), ensure that handicapped accessible rooms are available. Discuss childproofing with the concierge. NBC-2 reports that some hotel chains, such as Doubletree, offer childproofed rooms while the Four Seasons will have your room childproofed according to your specifications.
Game Checklist for Christmas: Keep Them Age Appropriate and Disability Friendly
If you will spend Christmas with your extended family, you may worry that your disabled child is the odd kid out, especially when it comes time for playing games. Whether your child suffers from a physical or mental disability, there are party games that allow disabled children to join in the fun their friends and family members enjoy.
Communicate with the friend or family member hosting the Christmas party and suggest some games. Offer assistance with bringing items needed to play the games and perhaps even leading them. Boardman Web offers a treasure trove of old favorites that may be adaptable for children with various disabilities.
Santa’s Christmas Checklist: Make a List of Possible Toys and Check it Twice
While the gift checklist for Christmas takes most parents to major toy retailers, those with disabled children need to think through their gift giving. Do you want to reinforce skills recently learned or do you want to pave the way for future learning? Is the gift best given during the family Christmas celebration or can it be revealed at the extended family Christmas party without subjecting the child to teasing? The American Foundation for the Blind offers a list of educational toys that are great not just for children with blindness.
Consider Frustration Coping Mechanisms When Making Your Christmas Preparation List
Even if your Christmas checklist covers each conceivable eventuality and travel arrangements, accommodation requests and the family Christmas party go off without a hitch, there are still the unplanned, unanticipated and sometimes downright minor occurrences that can nevertheless threaten to derail your careful planning. For parents with disabled children, helping the kids handle their frustrations is a major component of any outing or social situation.
In the book “Learning Disabilities and Your Child,” author Lawrence Greene reveals that self esteem problems lead to escalated reactions when facing frustrations and failure. While you cannot “fix” this reality borne of a life lived with being considered different and unable to perform as peers in a number of venues, you can ensure that you are not so busy with Christmas preparations and ancillary tasks that you fail to recognize your child’s need for emotional assistance. Beef up on your communication skills and look out intently for signs of aggravation.