Friendly 4th of July
4th of July can be tough for neurodiverse people. How can you help neurodiverse individuals enjoy 4th of July?
Here are some ways to make 4th of July more friendly for neurodiverse individuals:
Create quiet, safe spaces! Many neurodiverse people, not all, like to be by themselves to recharge and prepare for upcoming situations during the holiday. Plus, its a space for neurodiverse people to go to anytime for sensory and other needs in general.
Find out where fireworks will be! As loud noises can be triggering for a neurodiverse individual, check on times for when fireworks are starting and where prior to attending. This will give you or your guests time to prepare as needed prior.
Keep headphones or earplugs close by! Blocking out the noise can help those triggered by the loud sounds of fireworks. I used to wear earplugs or headphones when I was younger because I could not stand the noise of fireworks at first. Now, I can handle a lot louder noises in places than before. It's important to keep headphones or earplugs within grabbing distance or keep headphones/earplugs handy for your guests.
Prepare neurodiverse people for the day! Explain to a neurodiverse individual that there will be a lot of people and noise, but there will also be plenty of fun activities. If he/she responds to visual cues, try showing him/her a video of fireworks (with the volume turned down at first) or a parade. Gradually increase the volume and take note of his reaction. Personally, I used to do this for myself as a way of getting used to loud noises in general. Though it’s important that he/she knows what to expect, try not to go overboard. Sometimes too much anticipation can be just as overwhelming.
Bring favorite, familiar items! Familiar toys, games and snacks can provide neurodiverse people comfort and distraction from over-stimulating sights, sounds and smells. These favorites can also come in handy if he/she gets antsy while waiting for an activity, like a parade or firework show, to start.
Stay mindful of the situation and have fun! Whether your neurodiverse child is able to engage in a full day of activities, or just visit a BBQ and spend a quiet evening at home playing board games, the 4th of July is a great day of celebration with family and friends. The most important thing is to find a holiday tradition that allows your family to enjoy the day together.
How have you handled 4th of July? Do you have any more advice to share with families? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section!