It’s that time of year again! July 4th is the special day Americans celebrate our independence, often with grand fireworks presentations, parades, and all-day cookouts. But for some families raising a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other sensory processing conditions, celebrating Independence Day can feel scarier than fun. That’s why it’s crucial to create a sensory-friendly July 4th for your neurodivergent family.
Thankfully, there are simple ways to create a safe and sensory-friendly July 4th celebration everyone can enjoy despite struggles. This blog by ABA Centers of America will offer tips to make this summer holiday minimally stressful and fun for everyone!
We recognize holidays are a time to connect and have fun with others meaningfully, so we make every effort to offer resources that help improve these experiences for everyone, so you can still attend and enjoy these significant events. Whether defusing anxiety around loud noises or creating an environment best suited for your loved one’s needs, we have you covered with excellent tips. Read on for everything you need to know to celebrate a sensory-friendly July 4th that’s memorable and epic!
6 Tips to Celebrating a Sensory-Friendly July 4th:
Preparing for a sensory-friendly July 4th can make a massive difference in creating a positive experience for everyone at your event. By taking a few simple steps, such as understanding your loved one’s needs before attending or hosting, you can increase the likelihood that your day is incident-free!
Here are 6 Simple Steps:
1) Carefully Consider the Scene of the Celebration
Selecting where to celebrate July 4th with your child on the spectrum involves a few considerations. Think about your child’s sensory needs before choosing where to celebrate. While you may receive many invitations, consider selecting quiet, comfortable spaces where they can decompress if needed.
Additionally, consider the location’s size, the area’s fireworks regulations, and the crowd attending. These variables, which will be different in value for each family, are essential to consider so there are little surprises that don’t result in distress or a quick trip back home.
2) Bring Your Loved One’s Sensory Tool Kit
Sensory tools and gadgets can be incredibly beneficial in providing relaxation and a calming distraction from the overload of stimulating or new experiences. In fact, for some kids with ASD, knowing they can access their sensory tool kit if needed help improves regulation or lessen worry.
Each person may prefer what’s most comforting, from weighted blankets to fidget toys. By utilizing these tools, found in specialty toy stores or even Amazon, individuals with ASD can feel more at ease during family gatherings, festive events, and other high-intensity activities.
3) Minimize Overstimulation
For individuals who experience sensory sensitivity, overstimulation from noises, lights, or other unwanted stimuli can be overwhelming, leading to complex behaviors, stress, and even pain. In the worst cases, overstimulation can lead to meltdowns or even dangerous behaviors like self-harm. However, there are a few helpful ways to minimize stress caused by overstimulation to create a more manageable environment.
For instance, include earplugs or noise-canceling headphones in your sensory toolkit to reduce the impact of loud noises. Additionally, dimming or using soft lighting can decrease the intensity of bright or flashing lights. Also, take breaks at needed. Prolonged exposure can worsen things, so do your best to gauge how your child responds when deciding how long you will celebrate.
4) Celebrate Safely
When celebrating with fireworks and sparklers, it is essential to put safety first. Playing it safe is especially critical if anyone attending the celebration has sensory sensitivities. To ensure a safe and rewarding experience for everyone, including those with ASD, following proper guidelines when using fireworks and sparklers responsibly is of the utmost importance.
Always read the instructions carefully, use fireworks and sparklers outdoors in a clear area, and never point them at yourself or others. Also, if you suspect your firework presentation may be distressing the individual with ASD, consider engaging your kiddo in fun but less overwhelming indoor activity. Taking these precautions allows you to celebrate safely and enjoy the festivities with peace of mind.
5) Have Fun Your Way!
There are many unique ways to enjoy a sensory-friendly July 4th without the loud booms and noisy BBQs. Consider making the day about creating special homemade ice cream to enjoy under the sunshine or hosting a game night that includes a more casual environment and ends before the fireworks become more frequent.
Whatever you choose to do, remember that having fun doesn’t always have to involve fireworks or be conventional. Enjoying the holiday in a way that suits you matters most and often leads to the best, most memorable experiences!
6) Encourage Personal Responsibility and Set Expectations
Encouraging responsibility can help your loved one take care of themselves during the big day and participate in the festivities! Better yet, it’s excellent practice for handling future events that may involve increases in stimuli. One strategy to promote responsibility is to discuss the day’s plan with your loved one ahead of time. Describe expectations and offer examples through videos or pictures of what the event may include so they better understand the behaviors others demonstrate while celebrating.
Better yet, include your loved one with ASD in the event planning as much as probable. Discuss what the July 4th celebration will entail and how they might be affected by the sensory stimuli. Encouraging responsibility empowers your loved ones to care for themselves so they can fully enjoy this celebration and future social activities.
You’re Going to Have a Fantastic Sensory-Friendly July 4th
It’s important to remember that your sensory-friendly July 4th may look a little different from others. Still, with some planning, everyone can join in on the festivities and celebrate in a way that works best for them. By preparing and planning with a few of our tips and tricks in mind, you will indeed have a terrific, safe Independence Day. Ultimately, staying mindful of everyone’s needs is essential for creating an enjoyable holiday experience.
Whether your celebration involves patriotic arts & crafts projects, listening to audiobooks as an alternative to watching fireworks, or constructing a pillow fort and listening to relaxing music, there are plenty of ways to celebrate a fun sensory-friendly July 4th
ABA Centers of America Wishes You a Safe and Fun Summer Holiday!
Here at ABA Centers of America, we want you to feel equipped and ready to enjoy holidays like July 4th with your loved one with autism. Through our ABA therapy programs, kiddos and teenagers learn incredible skills and develop abilities to cope with new settings and stimulation to enjoy life in new ways, including attending parties!
There is hope that your child with autism will have an incredible life, just like you imagined.
Call us at 844-923-4222 now to learn about our ABA therapy services and how they can support your neurodivergent loved one through many aspects of life, including academics, social events, and developmental expansion, or contact us here.