With the July 4th holiday right around the corner, you may be debating whether you should take your child with autism to a fireworks show this year. For those who struggle with autism, the July 4th holiday can be a stressful and challenging day. The holiday brings large crowds, loud sounds from the fireworks, and overall a day that is not routine for children who are used to following a routine.
To ease the stress of the July 4th holiday, we have come up with a few ways to help your child with autism have a less stressful day.
Prepare your child for what will happen.
If you are going to a firework show prep your child for what they will see, hear, and experience. Make sure you explain why they will see the bright flashes of lights and hear the loud sound of the fireworks. Find a social story to help explain how the night will go step by step. Search for a video online that shows what a fireworks show looks and sounds like to help them know what to expect.
Watch the fireworks from a distance.
The further away you can get from where the fireworks go off, the less sound you will hear. The flashes of light will also not be as “in your face.” You can also check with the facility hosting the fireworks show to see if they have a special “sensory-friendly” area that can help cause less anxiety for your child.
Bring noise-reducing headphones
Noise-reducing headphones will help drown out or even block the sound completely. If your child is a music fan, bring headphones that play the kind of music your child likes to help reduce the child’s anxiety.
Bring an item that is comforting to the child.
Does your child have a blanket that they love? Bring it to sit on. Is there a toy or an item they always have in their hands? Take it with you. Bring something that makes them feel more at home, hopefully making them feel more comfortable at the fireworks show.
Leave ahead of the crowds.
It’s no surprise that fireworks celebrations bring large crowds of people together, especially on the country’s birthday! Once the show ends, everyone bolts to their cars to try and beat the traffic. If you are in a crowded area and you can foresee it getting very hectic once the show is over, plan on leaving a couple of minutes early to miss the crowd and have fewer people crowding your child.
Skip the Fireworks this year
If you think your child is going to have a tough time at a fireworks show, skip it this year. Find something else to do that will be less stressful for your child. It’s not worth the trauma that it could result in. If you want to see a fireworks show, you can always turn on the TV and watch the National fireworks live!
From all of us here at LEAP Autism Therapy, we wish you a safe and happy 4th of July holiday!