Fireworks & Autism

Fourth of July Parents Summer

Fireworks & Autism

Strategies To Make The Most Out Of Your Child's Fireworks Experience

What does summertime, baseball games, home days and 4th of July events all have in common? FIREWORKS. For children on the spectrum, these summer events can be challenging to navigate. Here at The Noah Robert Project we have provided some strategies to help make the most out of firework celebrations.

Plan Ahead:

A new sensory experience and an unfamiliar place always run the risk of over stimulation. Here are some suggestions to help make your first attempt as painless as possible:

  • Make a countdown calendar of your firework celebration and count down the days with enthusiasm. Create a visual schedule of the day’s events to help prepare them for this unfamiliar activity.
  • Because of their unpredictability, watching videos of fireworks will help explain the random explosions in the sky.
  • Play with some "quiet fireworks" like sparklers to help ease into the "loud fireworks" later on. 
  • Visit the area prior to the event to get a feel for the venue as well. If possible, ask the event coordinators if there is a less crowded area for viewing. Knowing where your going and what your doing can alleviate a lot of stress and anxiety for the whole family.

Pack Accordingly:

I suggest bringing the following items to help with instances of anxiety or feeling overwhelmed:

  • Noise canceling headphones
  • Ear plugs
  • Sunglasses
  • Visual schedule of the days event
  • Plenty of snacks and water
  • Items that bring comfort such as a weighted blanket, tablet or calming toys
  • Umbrella or tent to offer shade
  • Chairs to avoid sitting in the prickly grass.

Watch From The Car Instead:

Watching from the car may offer a sense of security and protection for first time viewers, or this may be your child’s preferred way of viewing. Hanging out in the family vehicle can be the best both worlds: providing an easy way to exit early and promptly (should you need to) and the ability to still leave the house and enjoy fireworks in person.

During The Firework Display:

Constantly reassure your child that they are safe and that this is something to be enjoyed . Be attentive to your child’s response, and remember, sometimes it’s best to go home and try again next year. You don’t want your child to become fearful.

Staying Home Instead:

Not interested or ready to brave the crowds? Try having your own celebrations at home! You can start new traditions like coloring fireworks, making visual fireworks or even baking special treats. Most firework displays are televised for your enjoyment, or consider inviting friends and family over to enjoy some low noise fireworks!

Be Ready To Accept The Fact It May Not Be Time:

As much as you want to be outside and watching fireworks, it may not be time. If your child struggles with sensory issues, forcing this experience can be traumatizing and weaken your efforts in the future. You must remember, the sights and sounds can be incredibly overwhelming for some children, maybe even physically painful. 

If this is the case, staying home can be a struggle. Make sure the windows are closed, your child has access to headphones, and you have a movie or music playing to help mask the noise. Waking up extra early the day of celebrations and trying to go to bed earlier may help. 

Autism effects each individual differently, and preferences and needs can change from year to year. It’s important that parent's are flexible, creative and willing to plan ahead to make each festive moment an enjoyable one.

Written by Holly Terei, the founder of The Noah Robert Project, and the author of "Jacob the Flapping Dinosaur Goes to School".  

Comment below with your own tips, tricks and suggestions for fireworks and autism. We would love to hear form you! 

Interested in becoming a guest blogger for The Noah Robert Project? Email us your ideas at thenoahrobertproject@gmail.com


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