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Reflections on 2021 and hopes for 2022

Published Date: 30 Dec 2021

I’m usually a real sucker for a good reminiscing session, but looking back on 2021 is not something I’ve chosen to do much of yet. While this year hasn’t been our annus horribilis (looking at you for that one, 2020), it’s certainly not been the carefree and cheery year we’d have liked.

The ruined Christmas plans, followed by uncertainty around schools opening at the start of the year, certainly didn’t get us off to a great start. Our deaf daughter, Sybil, who has an Education, Health and Care plan, continued to attend school during the lockdown, and this routine and stability was absolutely vital to her. During the 2020 school closures, she became withdrawn and anxious, missing school as well as her friends and family. Thankfully we didn’t see the same changes in her in January and February, and the differences at school during this period didn’t seem to phase her.

After the dark, cold winter months came a glorious spring and summer spent reconnecting with friends and family, visiting all our favourite restaurants (albeit initially outdoors, and often in the rain), and basically doing everything we possibly could, as soon as we could do it! We had a great time going to museums, farms, zoos, and eventually soft play (I never would have thought I’d be so desperate to visit a soft play!) Many attractions limited their numbers initially, and while having to book in advance can be a bit of a pain, having fewer people around was a huge benefit to Sybil, who can get overwhelmed in noisy crowds and struggle to hear against the background noise.

Unfortunately, these fun activities frequently had to be cancelled due to popped bubbles and isolation periods. It’s hard to explain to young children why they have to stay at home for 10 days when they aren’t at all ill, and while we tried to model resilience for Sybil and her brother, Francis, we let them know it was fine to be upset, disappointed, and grumpy about it all! We did have a great summer though, with a sunny trip to Center Parcs and an adventure down to London.

September quickly rolled around, and Sybil started Year 1 - where has the time gone?! The transition from reception to Year 1 can be tricky, with much less play and more formal learning, but Sybil has coped with it well. She has the same 1:1 teaching assistants as in early years, and the teaching staff have all had deaf awareness training. Sybil’s school has always been really supportive, and we know if any problems arise, we can go to them for help. The classroom acoustics have not been helped by the doors and windows having to remain open for ventilation, but Sybil has a radio aid system that helps her massively when it comes to background noise.

Life is a lot busier now - as well as her swimming lessons, Sybil has started Rainbows and after-school football. She has more reading books, and even spellings to learn. While she’s enjoying it all, we’ve definitely noticed that she’s a lot more tired than she was in reception and needs more downtime at the weekends and in the evenings. Listening fatigue remains our biggest challenge. I have become slightly obsessed with how much sleep Sybil is getting!

So, what are our hopes for 2022? Big birthday parties, spontaneous adventures, and finding that elusive balance between school work, fun activities, and rest for Sybil!

Holly

Holly and her husband Adam are parents to Sybil (5) and Francis (2). Sybil is profoundly deaf and uses cochlear implants.