Independence Day is fast approaching, and while many of us are counting down the days to celebrate with fireworks, parades, and BBQs those same activities can be overwhelming and nearly unbearable for children with sensory sensitivities.
Whether your child struggles with Autism, ADHD, or Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) with a little extra attention and preparation, they too can enjoy the 4th of July fun.
Talk About It
Preparation is essential when it comes to activities with any child. Make sure to prepare your child for whatever you have planned well in advance. Explain, what noises, smells, and activities will be present and follow up with visual aids, like The Story of 4th of July or videos of fireworks. Also, set expectations by giving your child a time frame, so they feel more in control.
Pack Favorite Items
Keeping your child comfortable is the best way to avoid a 4th of July meltdown. Familiar snacks, toys, and games can provide comfort and act as a distraction if your child becomes over-stimulated by any sights, sounds and smells.
Make it a Game
Turn what could be an over stimulating noise, sound or smell into a game. Have your child guess the color of next firework or count the seconds’ in-between parade floats. These little games provide a sense of predictability and will help ensure your child is engaged and relaxed.
Block out the Noise
Sometimes exposure to overwhelming noises, sounds and sights are unavoidable. Bring along sunglasses and noise blocking headphones to help quiet loud sounds or bright lights. Also, consider picking a location that’s not too crowded.
Establish a safe place
Whether it is a blanket or dark room establish a “safe place” for your child to retreat to if things get overwhelming. Pay attention to your child’s body language and cues so that you can anticipate when they are getting overwhelmed. It may also be helpful to establish a “safe word.”
We hope these tips helps all of the members of your family enjoy a wonderful and safe Fourth of July.
Links and Sources:
Peronto, Sara. “6 Tips to Having A Sensory Friendly 4th of July.” Friendship Circle Special Needs Blog. Friendship Circle, 02 July 2014. Web. 01 July 2016.
Christianson, Cassey. “4th of July and Dealing with Over-Stimulation.” 4th of July and Dealing with Over-Stimulation. AbilityPath, Feb. 2015. Web. 01 July 2016.
“Special Needs Tips for Avoiding Fourth of July Sensory Overload | Brain Balance Achievement Centers.” Brain Balance Achievement Centers. Brain Balance Achievement Centers, 29 June 2012. Web. 01 July 2016.