As a parent I'm always looking for ways to include my daughter in everyday activities such as cooking, cleaning and tending to the day's chores and to-do lists but what additional challenge so parents face when their children (or other family members) have a disability. We hear the term "Full-Inclusion" used all over in our schools and during IEP planning but how do you achieve full-inclusion on your own at home during the holidays?
Here are a few ideas that have come to mind from my own experiences and a little bit of brainstorming. I've split them into two areas, one for kids and another for adults because we certainly don't want to forget about those incredible individuals who've dedicated so much of their lives to ensuring OUR inclusion while we were in THEIR care. The key in each scenario is to not just assign busy work, or simply to occupy time but to make your loved one feel like he or she is playing an integral role in your holiday preparations.
Name Cards, Helpful & Educational
Cut several unlined notecards in half and make a list of all your guests. Have your child fold each card into a tent shape and practice handwriting by copying each guest's name onto a single card. Encourage creativity, and if appropriate, let your child decide where each guest should sit. This makes them "the boss" and who doesn't enjoy that every once in a while!
Mashed Potatoes.... By Switch!
Cooking is quite possibly the most memorable activity of the holidays and NO ONE should be left out of helping in the kitchen! For full inclusion when mobility and/or dexterity is a concern try connecting a Powerlink & Jelly Beamer Switch to your Countertop Mixer. Mom and Dad can boil and peel the potatoes but there would be no "Mash" without your little helper... Again making them an indispensable part of your holiday staff :)
DJ for a DAY
The very nature of the interactive touchscreens on devices like iPods and iPads make them incredibly accessible all on their own and a little creativity on your part with iTunes setup makes playing DJ easy for everyone regardless of reading ability. Organize a playlist of "approved" holiday tunes, enter the name of the song in both the Song Name field and the Album field and select a picture for the album artwork that your child will associate with that song. Now, when viewing the playlist in album-view mode, children can choose a song from a screen full of images instead of tiny lines of text.
Recipe Retrieval... What exactly is a "Dollop" Anyway?
We all have those treasured family dishes who's recipe resides solely inside the minds of the family members that make them each year. Get them down on paper now and make touching holiday gifts for next month. Have grandma show the kids how to make her famous pumpkin pie and write down the steps as she goes... or better yet, record the session on on video so you'll finally have a visual record of exactly how much a "dash" or a "dollop" is.
Memory Retrieval... Turn a Simple Conversation into aTreasured Family Record Forever
At my great-grandmother's 90th birthday party my Uncle brought his video camera and recorded a conversation with our guest of honor. OK, so it was more like an interview but she just loved the sincere attention he was paying her and the opportunity to pass these memories on to future generations. This could be a great opportunity to engage your teens and older children too. Let them guide the conversation. A Livescribe recording pen is a great alternative to video for family members that might be a little camera shy.
How have you adapted or created new traditions for full inclusion in your holiday festivities? Share your ideas with us here or on facebook.com/EnableMart