Traditionally, the way to celebrate the Fourth of July is to observe a loud, colorful, fireworks display. Kids with certain types of special needs may have difficulty coping with what many adults see as an enjoyable form of entertainment. Here are some tips parents can use to help their child cope with the sensory aspects of Independence Day.
The Fourth of July might very well be the loudest holiday of the entire year. We have bright and booming fireworks displays at night, and start the day with the screaming sirens of fire engines in the Independence Day parade. This can be overwhelming for kids who have sensory issues, difficulties with anxiety, or problems adapting to situations that are not following an expected pattern.
Here are some tips you can use to help your child cope this Fourth of July.
Parents might want to consider having their child use earplugs, or noise canceling headphones. This can help block out some of the loudest noises that your child will be exposed to. It can make the sirens from the fire engines at the parade, or the loud explosion sounds of the fireworks, a bit more comfortable for your child.
Another alternative is to see if there will be a sensory friendly fireworks display near you. This often involves watching a recorded fireworks display in a dimly lit movie theater with the sound turned low.
Prepare your child for what to expect on the Fourth of July. Talk about the sounds, sights, and crowds, that will be at the parade. Note that the fireworks are loud, but that it is okay. You may want to prepare a schedule, similar to the one that your child uses at school. First, we are going to wake up and eat breakfast. Next, we will get in the car, and go watch the parade. Later, we will eat lunch. When it gets dark we will watch the fireworks at the park. The sooner you start preparing your child, the better he or she will be able to cope.
Set up an escape plan. Find a place that your child will consider to be safe that he or she can go to if the sensory aspects of the day become completely overwhelming. For example, if things get too stressful, perhaps you and your child could watch the fireworks from inside your car, (with the air conditioning turned on if needed). If you promise your child that he can leave when he needs to, be prepared to follow through with that offer.
Bring something with you that provides comfort to your child when she is anxious. This could be a favorite blanket or a stuffed animal. This could help to make your child feel a bit safer while watching the fireworks.
Image by Bert 23 Baum on Flickr