Fireworks and Autism
Fourth of July can be fun for many children, but for children on the autism spectrum it may be very overwhelming. Lights, noises, crowds, and smells may contribute to overstimulation for many children on the autism spectrum. Not only that, but this is a break in the normal routine for children.
Your child is probably already experiencing a disruption in their normal routine due to summer schedules, but this holiday is likely to be another change in their routine that can be very difficult to manage.
Below are a few quick tips to prepare for activities and events your child may participate in during the upcoming holiday.
Prepare for a Change in Routine
- Start early. Introduce this change a few days in advance, if possible.
- Use videos, pictures, stories, etc. to prepare your child for what they can expect.
- Practice! Try role-playing with your child so they can practice how to successfully get through the event.
Establish a Structure for Activities and Events
- What is the schedule for the day?
- What can your child expect during scheduled events or activities?
- How can your child let you know if they need a break? What is the plan for providing a break from the event?
- Use visuals, pictures, schedules, etc. to prompt your child through the activities and events of the day.
- Provide sunglasses, headphones, and other cool accessories that can reduce stimulation from light or noise.
- Have preferred and familiar items available that the child can hold or play with when they feel overstimulated.
Prepare With Reminders
- Prior to a transition to a new activity or event, remind your child what is coming next.
- Give them a countdown to the transition or use visual cues.
- Prompt your child to communicate if they need a break from the activity/event.
Have a Backup Plan
- It’s ok to arrive late or leave early.
- Consider having two options of activities for the day. At the time of the planned event, if your child is overwhelmed, they can always choose a different activity.