Jeff dishwasher

It is that time of year again, when malls get busy, people start rushing around and crowds gather to share holiday cheer. Those of us who have a person with a developmental disability in their lives are familiar with the fact that there are certain parts of the holiday season that can cause distress for our loved ones. The crowds, the noise, a change to routine can throw many people off, and those with disabilities can be especially affected. My brother, Jeff, who has Down syndrome loves the holidays and being around family, but can get a bit irritated when there is a change to his routine.

Growing up, our family could tell what time of the day it was according to what Jeff was doing. We knew it was 5:30pm as he would come upstairs for dinner whether it was made or not, 7:12pm would find him unloading the dishwasher, and I think everyone knew when it was noon on a Sunday, because the whole neighbourhood could hear him singing along to his favorite movie. Our family was used to his habits, but sometimes the guests to our house might not be familiar with his routines – like when my friends were over in the evening and he would start singing at the top of his lungs in his bedroom, or when he packed overnight guest’s bags, took them to the front door and thanked them for coming when they had stayed for a few days (too long I guess!).

At this time of year, we can all feel a little stressed out, but it is a good idea to keep in mind that little things that don’t bother us can have a huge impact on a person with developmental disabilities. The crowds may be too big, the lights too bright, the music too loud. A disruption into their daily routine can cause all sorts of reactions such as outbursts, panic or just wanting to retreat to somewhere familiar. The holidays are a time of the year to really reach out to our fellow person, so let’s be sensitive to everyone’s needs at this wonderful time of the year.

By Joanna Redfern, Volunteer Blogger

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Semiahmoo House Society, a non-profit organization located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to provide quality services and supports to people with disabilities and their families in the community. 

The Semiahmoo Foundation, located in Surrey/White Rock, exists to fund, support and enhance the programs and services delivered by Semiahmoo House Society.

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