It is almost the Fourth of July, which for many families in the United States is a time of festivity and celebration as we commemorate our nation’s independence with colorful parades, juicy BBQ’s, loud concerts, and booming fireworks. These activities can bring many changes in routine and sensory stimulations that may be exciting for some individuals, but difficult for others. Marji Voetberg, one of our teacher consultants, offers these tips for helping all members of your family be prepared and equipped for your Independence Day celebrations.
Prepare children for what to expect.
This could include showing pictures from a previous year (if you have them) and/or YouTube videos about what to expect during the day. Describe what your son or daughter might see, hear, taste, etc throughout the day. If necessary, discuss that the noises from fireworks are not dangerous sounds. You could include all of these items in a personalized SocialStory (see an example here) that highlights the day’s activities.
Have a plan.
Explain to your children how you expect to stay together at the event. For example, will everyone wear the same colored shirt? Or stay within a certain distance? Be sure to share what to do if you get split up.
Bring the right tools.
Especially for fireworks, it may be helpful to bring blankets (wrap your child in for deep pressure), ear plugs, sunglasses, etc. These tools can provide sensory input breaks/decreased input.
Use a camera.
If you’re headed to fireworks or an event where there is a lot going on, bring a camera that your son or daughter could use. Looking through the camera at the event brings the focus in to one object/event and may help your child feel less overwhelmed by all of the things that are going on.
Talk about food.
Be sure to discuss candy consumption guidelines in advance. This is particularly important if your son or daughter has any food allergies.
In general, think about what triggers there may be for your child in any of the celebratory events. Prepare your child and yourself for how to handle those triggers.
Alternately, some families prefer to avoid Fourth of July celebrations because of the excitement. For these families, it may be a good idea to shut your windows and turn on any fans as loud as possible in the evening. Find a fun family activity or movie to enjoy that allows your family to spend quality time together indoors.
Regardless of what your family does, the main goal is to plan ahead for the holiday and prepare your family for what to expect.
Do you have additional ideas? Share them in the comment box below!
Marji Voetberg is a teacher consultant for CLC Network.