Fourth of July is the time for big crowds, festivals, and fireworks. Yet, for someone on the autism spectrum, the overstimulation of their senses might be overwhelming and could potentially lead to a meltdown. It’s important to be prepared for these types of situations and know how to respond to people with autism.

Here are some tips to make your Fourth of July celebrations friendly for people on the spectrum:

Prepare in advance Communicate with your child about the Fourth of July celebration. This helps the child be aware and know what to expect from this event. Such as, big crowds, loud noises and fireworks, and different types of foods that they’re not used to eating. For fireworks, try playing a YouTube video of fireworks with different sound levels to help the child know how it’ll sound, feel, and look like. It could also help to get your child’s feedback ahead of time if they feel like it too much for them. Explain to your child why we celebrate this holiday and use fireworks. If they see you excited about this celebration then they will too. Discuss the activities he will see and enjoy. Prepare a plan in case a meltdown occurs and discuss the strategies to use. 

Emotional support & make things comfortable Try planning a code word, visual card, or sign that the child could use when they start to feel uncomfortable or sense a triggering situation. Also, choose to watch fireworks from an area closest to the exit in case the situation becomes too much. Or, know an area further away to watch from so that it’s away from crowds. 

Physical reinforcement If you’re going to a family/friends picnic, barbecue, or party then plan to bring a toy or snack that the child may like during a trigger situation or when they feel antsy so they can feel comforted. Allow the child to pick what kind of snack or toy they would like to have with them to feel in self-control. If you’re hosting a party then have a separate quiet space with bean bags, pillows, chairs, and blankets if it becomes too overwhelming. Bring noise-reducing headphones to reduce the sound of fireworks that could cause stress for the child. 

Ask your child for breaks Be sure to check up on your child and ask if they need a break from the crowd and noise. Also, be aware of their body and facial expression if they’re enjoying the celebration or not. Maybe using a code word/sign or visual card can help understand when a break is needed. Let your child know that they can always tell them if they need a break and space around people. 

Be flexible Not everything will fall within the plan and it’s okay if changes occur! 

Wishing everyone a lovely Fourth of July!

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Photo by Polina Kovaleva on