The picnics, music, and fireworks that make July 4th so exciting may be overwhelming or even painful for special needs kids, especially those with autism and other sensory sensitivities. These children can easily get overwhelmed by noise and crowds, resulting in meltdowns or other challenging behaviors.
But there’s no need for families with special needs kids to skip July 4th. Advance planning can make July 4th fun for the entire family, including kids with special needs! Here are some tips to get you started!
1. Watch fireworks from indoors. Any room with a view will offer plenty of oohs and aahs without the booming noise that can be so upsetting.
2. Find a retreat space. As soon as you get to the party location, identify a quiet, cool space to take your child when he or she is getting overwhelmed. A 15-minute break might be all that's needed before going back to join the fun.
3. Pack favorite foods. Many kids with autism and other special needs are especially sensitive to new foods, so pack a cooler with treats you know your kiddo will enjoy.
4. Prep your child. A few days before July 4th, start talking about the festivities so the situation is less intimidating. Show pictures of picnics, games and fireworks. Create a visual schedule that shows different activities, including breaks. Social stories can be a great resource too!
5. Bring along some comfort. Most kids – even those who don’t have autism or other special needs – have a favorite toy or blanket. Be sure to bring this preferred item along and offer it when your child needs soothing or is taking a break.
Feel free to peruse the below links for some our previous 4th of July blog entries with more tips on making your holiday an autism-friendly celebration!
- Tips for celebrating the 4th of July with a child with autism
- How to Make Your 4th of July Autism-friendly
- The Five 'F' Fourth of July Plan
The most important thing is to find and know what works best for your kiddo and your family. And of course, as always, be safe and have a fun 4th of July!