Speech and Hearing Month Activities
Incorporate speech-language activities all month (and year) long!
Ask your child a variety of wh-questions to help them differentiate between wh-meanings and engage in turn-taking conversation. Your child may respond verbally, via sign language or via their AAC device. Examples include: “What’s your favorite color?” “Where do we shop for food?” and “Why do we use an umbrella?”
Naming items in categories
See how many items your child can name in various categories such as, “Things you see at a beach,” “Forest animals,” “sweet foods,” etc. You can also name 2-3 items and see if your child can name the category that they belong in (e.g., “What makes apples, kiwis and peaches alike?)
Ask your child questions regarding sequencing, such as, “How do you make a peanut butter sandwich?” while making lunches or, “Tell me what happened in that story” after finishing a book together. Help them include words such as, first, next, then, and last.
Make a game out of seeing how many words your child can use to describe various things in your environment. Descriptors may relate to color, shape, size, texture, etc.
of ways in which someone can provide any assistance that would save you time, stress or sanity and ask if they would be able to lend a helping hand. Maybe help looks like a family member watching a sibling while you drop your child off at therapy and take some alone time to yourself at a nearby coffee shop; or it may look like asking a friend to pick up your Target order because your child is having a major meltdown and is refusing to transition to the car. Help doesn’t have to be momentous to be beneficial.
While mindfulness may seem like another recent buzzword that is easily thrown around, the benefits that many gain from incorporating mindfulness into their daily lives is not something to be ignored. Essentially, mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment. If you’ve ever participated in a mindfulness-based exercise, it is common for a narrative guide to instruct you to sit or lay in a comfortable position and become aware of your breath and the sensations of your body. In doing so, you are quieting your mind and creating a mind-body connection that has been shown to improve blood pressure, heart health and cognitive status in many who regularly engage in the practice.
Try to carve out some time during your day to practice mindfulness; perhaps you can swap with your partner sometime during your daily routines so that you both have an opportunity to have a quiet moment to yourself to breathe deeply and clear your head. The benefits you can reap as a parent are plentiful!
Seek out a support system
Research support groups that may be available in your area, whether in-person or virtually, that are specifically made up of parents of children with special needs. Having access to a group of people who are undergoing similar parental experiences as you can be a game changer in your outlook and mood. Support group experiences can look like meeting up at a coffee shop and chatting about really hard, challenging issues that involve tears and hugs, and it can also look like meeting up a restaurant and letting loose with laughter and conversations that have nothing to do with parenthood. In both scenarios, the camaraderie of like-minded individuals is a level of support that can let you vent and lift your spirits.
Having a support group also allows you to ask for and share advice regarding common situations that arise among parents of children with special needs. One parent might have excellent tips regarding how they get their child to transition from one activity to the next with minimal distress while another may have some great input on how to get their picky eater to try new foods.
*Smith, A. M., & Grzywacz, J. G. (2014). Health and well-being in midlife parents of children with special health needs. Families, Systems, & Health, 32(3), 303–312. https://doi.org/10.1037/fsh0000049