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Communication Survival - Discoveries During a Pandemic

By Maureen Penko

This is usually cold, and seasonal allergies time. None of this has changed, but what did change was a virus of such a great magnitude that it altered our world in a short period of time.
Suddenly we are reminded by the news that during the late 50Õs when there was a polio outbreak and it only took a few droplets transmitted by air to someone in close proximity to fall victim to polio. This set us all in a panic hence the name of this article.

Activities as we know it shut down, schools closed and we were restricted to our home. Many of us lost our jobs, I being one of them. Long line ups and only a few people in the stores at a time is now the norm. Online shopping has exploded, not all things are in stock and deliveries are slowed down. Families with children who have special needs worried about how their child will manage this sudden change.
The hug known as the most endearing and caring gesture is limited now to only those under our roof. Hand washing the right way along with face masks (not great for the hearing impaired) are our constant hygienic reminders. We have all been affected and coping has been daily with all the restriction reminders.

Is it possible to reinvent how we work?

To re-establish myself, I started listening to the talk shows on CBC where families would call to shared their concerns and their discoveries. News anchors were now delivering information for us from home offices. Webinars were being offered by our Professional Association about telehealth and online services. Online Platforms such Zoom and Microsoft Teams were being offered at no cost with the caution to use ID and passwords for security.

When it became obvious that speech and language as well as audiology were not considered essential services (except for in hospital clients). Families found themselves no longer able to get these services. Families called saying they did not want their child to lose what they gained. Telehealth has been in place for families who live in remote and northern area to receive services for many years so this is not new. However, in speaking with families they had to gain confidence that receiving speech and language services online would still be as effective as being seen in person. This is also very new service delivery for most speech language pathologists and may not be an option in some practices.

One must keep in mind that this may not be the best platform for special needs children and those with communication delays as each one's situation is unique. So best to call and have a discussion with the speech language pathologist.

In trying to reach out to families posting speech and language ideas on our practice Facebook page, soon stimulated an exchange.
I decided to invite parents to share something fun and challenging, through an email saying "you have been chosen to share"

Here is a snippet of what they said:

We have discovered how important music is for our baby who was born when grandparents could not visit to hold our newborn, and support us.
Music calms, and we sing while holding and dancing together. We are listening more to his sounds and talk to him a lot. We share him through facetime and my parents sing the songs we grew up with.

We've enjoyed being outside and exploring nature in new ways. Playing hide and seek behind trees. Watching the river levels change and noticing new birds and animals on our neighborhood walks. We also have found many new and interesting shapes in the clouds too! Stopping to appreciate the different sounds we hear along the way is fun too! Of course, the ever-changing window artwork from our neighbors always make for fun discussions.

We are following the creative learning plans from the teachers. And doing lots of puzzles and board games.

Managing screen/ tv time. Lots of great content has been provided for free online however it all adds up. Making sure content is educational and informative is key and taking breaks in between. Keeping up with everyone's activity needs has been a challenge I have been doing 'Jedi training' to keep the boys active and tire them out. They Love Star Wars.

It's an outside obstacle course circuit including skipping, jumping, push ups, swinging, strength, accuracy and agility drills, and a mental acuity question at the end (a math or trivia question). They go through the circuit 3-4 times. Every time we do it we adjust it to keep it fun. These small connections will all add up to a meaningful authentic relationship that will make us a strong family.

Making the day fun but settling into routines, in particular bedtime, can be a challenge.

We love to watch baking competitions on Netflix. We try to recreate the cakes using home-made play dough. This can keep us entertained for hours, with endless inspirations. We make a princess cake to enjoy at our make-believe princess balls, where we have dance parties in pretty dresses.

We have been reading a book entitled "Mindful Bedtime Stories", which allows us to do a meditation, focus on breathing, discuss feelings, and setting sweet dream intentions.

So here are some of my ideas.

  • Watch that you are not sharing your anxieties with your child. Limit the exposure to COVID 19 news,
  • Routines,
  • A visual or written schedule,
  • Scavenger hunts in the neighbourhood to get plenty of exercise,
  • Expand vocabulary through discovery learning. I wonder about?
  • Quiet and Relaxation time is a must,
  • Listen to music,
  • Cuddle, snuggle and read together,
  • Teach proper handwashing, put up a diagram,
  • Talk about what social distancing means,
  • Stay in touch with grandparents, they too need stimulation and care,
  • Limit the amount of screen time for learning and create a balance. Make the learning interactive,
  • Take the time to journal or create photo stories. These will be great memory reflections.

For those parents who are still working outside of the home, you may not have the time. It is best to not place the pressure on yourselves as parent and educator.
Think positive, look after yourself and give yourself a hug. We will have "Discovered" a lot about ourselves.

Feature Articles:

2020 Summer Day Camps & Programs Directory

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Communication Survival - Discoveries During a Pandemic

3 Things you Need to Know about Regular Viruses

Pandemic Resource Directory for Families

Things Not Cancelled!

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