Sensory-Friendly Tips for Children with Autism on July 4th

Navigating the Holiday with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Holidays in general can be overwhelming and overstimulating for children with autism. The 4th of July Holiday can be one of the more overstimulating holidays consisting of large social gatherings, fireworks, parades, festivals and more! Preparing for these upcoming activities is crucial.

There are various ways to ensure that the holiday is safe and memorable for children with autism. Here are a few tips for families and caregivers of children with Autism:

Prepare your child in advance

Prepare your child in advance by telling them what is going to happen at the fireworks display or celebration. Focus on the fun aspect and let your child know that you are excited for these upcoming activities. Engage your child in the excitement and get them excited! Tell them about the holiday and stories of the good food, friends, and activities.  You can read your child books about similar celebrations or show them videos online or even take them to the location beforehand to introduce and bring familiarity to the situation. Create a plan for activities including timing, location, safety, and helpful supplies. Have a plan B. It is important to understand your child’s limits.

Determine a location and create a safe space

Choose a location where your child can retreat easily, such as at home with a view of fireworks, where a quiet room is available if they need a break from the noise and lights or watch by distance from inside your vehicle. You can also create a special space for your child to make them feel more comfortable by bringing their favorite comfort items such as a pillow and blanket or a chair.  It is important that your child feels comfortable and safe and has a space to prevent overstimulation. Create an escape plan if your child becomes too overstimulated. Events like community fireworks can become hectic, fast. As the crowd’s swell, noise grows, and children on the autism spectrum become prone to meltdowns. That is why identifying an escape route to a quiet place is important.

Bring helpful supplies and favorite items

Pack a bag ahead of time with sensory toys, games, and familiar snacks. Also consider headphones for children who are sensitive to loud sounds. As we all know, fireworks can pack a lot of sensory stimulation. Sensory items and snacks can provide a crucial distraction if your child gets antsy while waiting for activities to start.

Make safety a priority

Put a strong focus on safety around fireworks. Wandering and accidents can happen at any time.  However, being in an unfamiliar environment can increase the risk.

Ask for help

Be clear with other adults around you about how they can help make the event comfortable for your child with autism. Make sure your child knows how to ask for help and how to ask for a break from the party or noise. If your child is verbal, they may only need a reminder.  However, many children on the autism spectrum do best with a visual aid. For example, provide your child with a special card to hand to you when they need a break from the stimulation.

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