Speech Therapists tend to be pretty nice people, and we work in a helping profession, so you might reasonably consider us to be fans of the Christmas season and good will to all peoples.
But the Christmas season can be a difficult one for children that we work with, in ways that are avoidable, and that makes us pretty grumpy. Here’s why:
- Children are out of routineChristmas fairs, visits to Santa, nativity plays…. the end of the Autumn term is nothing if not filled with once-a-year events. For children who have become used to the routines of school over the whole term, and need these to learn well, Christmas can represent significant disruption. The flip side of this is that, as children get used to those routines over the term, it gets harder to persuade adults to use their visual timetables, and other tools that help them to cope with change. (Predictable) changes in routine plus no tools to deal with that change = distressed child (and grumpy Therapist). We tried to tell you.
- Interventions don’t happen
It takes most of the first term to set up targets and get everyone comfortable with delivering them. But when routines don’t happen, interventions don’t happen. Children with SLCN do not have time to lose, and it makes your Speech Therapist very grumpy when interventions and targets are treated as an optional extra.
- The disruption of Christmas is used as an excuse for not starting up routines and interventions again after Christmas
Children who have not had their interventions or accessed their routines may return in a dysregulated state after the Christmas holiday. Cue giving them extra ‘settling in’ time before their interventions start again, and another few weeks without the tools that help them. The Ghost of Speech Therapists yet to come know this situation all too well.
Want to make your Speech Therapist (and your children) smile in the Christmas season?
- Keep using your visual timetable
- Plan for upcoming changes and make sure you have any visuals and other strategies you need ready in advance
- Prioritise keeping routines as similar as you can
- Prioritise interventions
- Get going as soon as you are back in school in the New Year. I know this is hard, but familiar routines and activities help children to understand and predict what will be happening in their day
- Keep your Speech Therapist informed in the new term. If you didn’t do the work in the last few weeks of the Christmas term and you know the child is not ready to have their progressed reviewed, let your Therapist know that, so they do not visit your school or setting until the optimal time.
Here’s wishing you, your children, your setting (and your Speech Therapist) a Happy and Non-grumpy Christmas.