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How To Celebrate A Sensory-Friendly 4th Of July

Two little children that look like siblings stand together on a park bench in patriotic red, white, and blue outfits smiling and waving American flags.

Written by: Joshua Sleeper

Fireworks, cookouts, sparklers, oh my! The 4th of July is almost here, and many families are preparing to celebrate this favorite summer holiday with family and friends. Despite the fun, the 4th of July can be overstimulating and present risks to every child, whether they’re diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder or not. In addition to keeping a close eye on your child around fireworks, grills, and sparklers, parents of children with autism may want to take some extra precautions to ensure every member of the family feels safe.

Tips For An Autism-Friendly 4th Of July

Prepare In Advance

4th of July is full of bright lights, loud fireworks, parades, and other celebrations that stimulate the senses. To help your child enjoy the holiday, prepare your child for how you will celebrate. If your child does best with physical practice, holding a small barbeque a few days before the holiday can be great practice. If your child does well with visual or audio cues, try playing a video of fireworks or a 4th of July parade. Slowly turn up the volume and monitor their response. If your child becomes overwhelmed, stop practicing and try again at a different time.

Bring Sunglasses & Noise-blocking Gear

Whether you’re watching a fireworks show or have neighbors that like to set off fireworks, noise-blocking headphones or earplugs can be helpful to dampen loud sounds. If your child hasn’t used noise-blocking devices before, have them practice wearing them at least a few days before the celebration. Since fireworks and sparklers can potentially trigger some sensory discomfort, it’s a good idea to have sunglasses or a hat handy to ease visual overstimulation.

Read More: Understanding Sensory Issues

Pack Familiar Favorites

A traditional 4th of July cookout is full of new smells, food, and experiences. It may be helpful to bring along your child’s preferred snacks, food, or drink to help bring some familiarity to the day. You can also consider bringing one of your child’s favorite toys, stuffed animals, or games. These familiar objects can bring comfort and serve as a distraction in stressful times.

Make A Getaway Plan

Before the festivities start, create an escape plan for your child in case they experience sensory overload. If you’re planning on celebrating at a friend’s house, scout out a quieter section of the property your child can retreat to or ask if you can create a safe space by bringing along a small tent or blanket to cuddle under. Scope out the area together and practice going to the area. Be sure to come up with a word or visual cue your child can use to let you know they’re feeling overwhelmed and need to take a break.

Want some more tips and techniques to help your child with autism celebrate? Trumpet Behavioral Health can help by providing unique, targeted autism therapy. Learn more by contacting us or visiting a center near you today!

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