We all know that the fireworks can be a hurdle for kiddos on the spectrum, and luckily, so much has come out in the past few years to help! Noise cancelling headphones are a miracle product! We also have other regulating aids such as chewies, fidgets and sensory items.
But what about the silent strikers of the fourth of July? The things that are not so in-your-face, but definitely can cause stress for this particular holiday.
Here are the silent strikers I have experienced:
- Crowded outdoor events (easy to overstimulate)
- Bouncy houses (loud sounds, crowded with kids and not easily accessible to parents)
- Lots of down time (waiting for fireworks, waiting in line for activities, waiting to leave the parking lot)
- Limited space to de-escalate when needed
Really, it’s not necessarily just fireworks that can cause a problem. The whole day in itself can be very overstimulating. HOWEVER, by preparing for these added stressors, you’re able to more effectively create a plan to help make it smooth sailing!
Some of my go-to tips:
- Carry a whiteboard and dry erase marker with you. Visual prompts and aids are often so helpful to kiddos on the spectrum. I like using something that can easily be changed. It’s great to bring your child’s visual schedule if she has one, but unfortunately, you don’t have the luxury of printing out a new picture any time the events of the day change. A whiteboard enables you to visually demonstrate or signal a change in plans or a wait time without needing to bring a whole entourage of materials. I’ve done things such as drawing an hourglass on the board and slowly coloring it in as the wait time was coming to an end. I’ve created check boxes to show the different places we were going to go so my son could prepare. The cool thing about a dry erase board is that you can use it for anything. I’ve written words on the board to act as silent prompters when needed, as well. The possibilities are endless.
- The Go-Bag. In case you haven’t guessed already from previous posts, I’m all about having a bag of go-to items on hand for every occasion. Fourth of July is no different. In a backpack, pack headphones, snacks, favorite items, fidgets, Water Wows, busy box items… the whole shebang. Enough to keep your kiddo engaged and entertained when needed, and enough to allow her to sit and take a break with known materials for a while if things get too overwhelming.
- Prepwork. Show pictures or use social stories/videos for a few days ahead of the events you’re attending to prepare your child. Again, visual aids are very helpful. Knowing what’s coming is typically a big stress relief for kiddos on the spectrum. Using sensory regulation strategies requires lots of practice, and the best practice happens when your child is calm and feels safe.
No matter what, always follow your instincts and be proud of any level of participation that your child feels comfortable with. Celebrating every win, no matter how small, makes every experience magical!!
Happy a Happy & Safe Fourth of July Weekend!