If there are two things that put my autistic daughter into immediate sensory overload? It’s this: loud noises and large crowds.
Most of the time, not a problem for us because we can avoid these things easily. I’m not a huge fan of large crowds myself, but loud noises? I can usually deal with those.
However, there comes a time of the year that everyone likes to get together and celebrate with loud noises. I’m talking about the 4th of July. It also happens to be the day after my autistic daughter’s birthday.
Whether we actually do anything for the 4th of July depends on when it falls. I won’t go out of my way to attend but attending with my autistic daughter? Count us out.
Instead, we’ve come up with our own ways to survive and celebrate the 4th of July.
How to Have a Sensory Friendly 4th of July Celebration
For starters, and this one cannot be emphasized enough, you need to prepare your child. Whether that’s with social stories or a visual schedule or a combination of both. The better you can prepare your child the easier it will hopefully be for them to handle.
If you know what you’ll be doing:
- Attending a parade
- Going to the beach
- Going to a party
- Hosting a party
- Going to see fireworks
- Going out of town
Or anything else- list it all out. Ideally, you’ll also want to be able to let your child know when these things are going to happen. Obviously, you can’t predict everything, but the closer you can get the better.
If you can, bring some of your child’s preferred comfort items. You may already do this anyway, or you may have a calming kit to take with you. And for that matter, if you are going somewhere else (to attend a parade or fireworks), see if you can create a safe place.
A blanket or pop-up tent might be perfect for this situation space permitting.
Make sure that you have noise canceling or noise blocking headphones. I cannot stress this one enough. Especially when it comes to those fireworks. You are going to want to have these on hand. You’ll also want to have sunglasses.
But why sunglasses at night?
Well, unless you’re trying to have your kiddo sing like Corey Hart, the bright lights from fireworks can potentially bring up some sensory discomfort. Sunglasses can help ease the visual overstimulation.
Keep an eye on your kiddo. This, of course, goes without saying. But especially during a holiday celebration when you may not be on your own territory. Watch for those tell-tale signs of agitation and sensory overload.
And, yes, I would also advise that you anticipate for the meltdown to happen.
Common Sense Survival Tips for the 4th of July for Autistic Children
I would also advise that you pack plenty of their favorite snacks. For most of us, this is really second nature. I know for us, at least, it definitely is. But if your child has additional dietary needs, you’ll want to have your own snacks and food on hand.
Don’t forget to also bring along a portable charger or back-up charger.. or, if you’re like me, you’ll have multiple of those too.
You’ll also want to prepare for any type of weather. Here, it does tend to be humid on the 4th of July but there have been plenty of times where it wasn’t the case. And, my daughter and I are also the types that once we step outside? We seem to send of a homing signal to all mosquitoes within a 50 mile radius.
Enjoy the day and let your child be your child.
If they’re enjoying the day, you’ll enjoy the day- you know?
And yes, if your child is acting like an autistic child, chances are likely that people are going to stare.
Go ahead and let them stare. Your child is just having a difficult time with the situation around them. Attend to your child’s needs. And then attend to yours.