The Fourth of July is a time where families and friends get together to celebrate the independence of the United states. People across the country show their patriotism through different activities such as picnics, barbecues, going to the beach and attending special events. The most widely celebrated activity are the fireworks, where throughout the country the night sky shines bright with bursts of color.
Although a fun holiday for most, it can be difficult for individuals with autism. Individuals with autism can encounter many problems on the fourth of July due to sensory triggers with big crowds, strong scents, and loud noises from fireworks. All of these can be overwhelming and difficult to deal with.
If a loved one, or someone else you know struggles with sensory stimulation here are some tips on how to make this Fourth of July an autism-friendly one.
1) Prepare in advance
It’s important to let them know what to expect. Explain to them why we celebrate the Fourth of July and the specific activities that they will be taking part in. You can talk to them about fireworks and show them a video with the volume on low and then slowly turning up the volume. If they prefer to have visual aids, you could make up a story with pictures to explain the events that will occur. Preparing can decrease their anxiety and stress on this holiday.
2) Get comfortable
There are many ways to ensure your loved ones are comfortable in a crowded setting. Bring a blanket, towel, or chair with you. This will create a space that they feel is their own. Also bring favorite items such as toys and snacks. These can be a distraction if they get anxious or antsy. Bring lots of water, it is likely going to be very hot and it’s important to stay hydrated!
3) Have a plan
A good suggestion would be buying noise-canceling headphones. A pair of noise canceling headphones can help block out excessive noise. Your loved one with autism can also cover their ears with their hands to help with the noise. Something else to consider would be sitting at a distance from the fireworks display and the crowds. This way, you will still be able to see the bright and colorful explosions but without the loud noise.
4) Take breaks
It’s important that you take breaks from crowds and noises if it’s something that they are not used to. Whether your loved one asks for a break or not, this is still an important step in paying attention to how they feel by paying attention to body language. Provide them with a special signal, word, or image that lets you know it is time to get away from the activities.
5) Have fun
Preparation can be a lot but it’s worth it to have fun on this holiday! It’s important to remember how fun the fourth of July can be. Preparation is key, but you can’t avoid every possible outcome so take the day as it comes and try to handle everything as it comes. Focus on the good times!