01 Jul Making July Fourth a Sensory Friendly Holiday
July 4th – Independence Day is a national holiday that usually involves parties, festivals, and of course, fireworks. For most children, it is a busy, fun filled day, but for children who are sensory sensitive, it can be overstimulating, meltdown provoking, and even scary. If your child has Sensory Processing Disorder or any sensory sensitivities, it does not mean that they can not partake and enjoy all that July fourth has to offer. All it takes is some careful planning and preparation to make it a sensory friendly holiday.
Talk to your child about what to expect. It doesn’t matter if it is a small family get together or a town wide festival, talking to him about what activities are planned for the day is a great first step. This allows him time to prepare himself and not be caught off guard. If possible, allow him some say in the days activities. For some children social stories or visuals may be a useful tool as well.
Provide the Familiar
Being around new people, smells, and location can really throw your child for a loop. Bringing a familiar item, such as her favorite toy or blanket, can provide a sense of safety and be very calming. If attending a get-together, it may be wise to bring some of her favorite snacks or dishes, in case she doesn’t like what is being served.
Don’t forget the Headphones and Sunglasses
If your child is sensitive to sound or sound level, noise reducing headphones are a must have item. They can be used to help soften the crowd noise, and of course, the loud pops and booms that come along with the colorful fireworks. Sunglasses may also be helpful, not only to help during the sunny day, but to help minimize the brightness of the fireworks.
Establish an Escape Route
If your child is overstimulated and not having fun, it may be time for a break or an escape. When planning your day, consider including a “code word” or gesture that can alert you to his need to get away. Keep in mind quick and easy exits when parking or choosing a firework viewing location.
Comfort is Everything.
The most important thing to remember is that your child’s comfort is your number one priority. A comfortable environment for him leads to a more enjoyable holiday for everyone.
Making July Fourth a Sensory Friendly Holiday
Shandy Marso, Contributor