Updated: Jul 1
Independence Day can be overwhelming for those with sensory sensitivities, try these tips to make it a little easier
PREPARE YOUR CHILD: Talk about where you are going and what is going to happen. Try showing videos of firework displays!
CREATE A SAFE SPACE: Create an area that is just for your child. Bring their favorite snacks, toys, blanket or chair. Having a designated space can help your child feel more comfortable.
BRING HEADPHONES: Parties and fireworks can be very loud and overwhelming. Consider bringing noise-cancelling headphones to help dampen the sound.
DISTANCE YOURSELF: Large crowds can be over stimulating for your child. Give yourself enough space to socially distance and de-stress. You can also try sitting a distance away from the firework display, somewhere you can enjoy the beautiful visuals but limit the booming noise.
USE FLAGS INSTEAD OF SPARKLERS: Sparklers may seem harmless, but every year they cause nearly half of firework injuries. Instead of sparklers, try waving flags! You can also try a bubble machine or a disco/strobe light as a alternative to firework explosions.
ASK FOR A BREAK: Make sure your child knows how to ask for a break when they need one. If your child is verbal, remind them to ask when necessary. Your child may also benefit from a visual aid. Create your own communication cards like the one below for your child to hand to you when they need a break.
For a more specific plan, talk to your child's BCBA
What Is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental condition that involves persistent challenges in social interaction, speech and nonverbal communication, and restricted/repetitive behaviors. The effects of ASD and the severity of symptoms are different in each person.
The severity and combination of symptoms can differ from person to person as there is a large range of characteristics of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It is important to understand that no two children behave the same way and that symptoms can range from mild to severe and can often change over time.
ASD can be diagnosed as early as 2 years old, with some symptoms showing as early as 12 months and others occurring much later. Some children with ASD gain new skills and meet their developmental milestones until around 18-24 months before losing the skills they once had or stop gaining new skills.
What are the signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Individuals with ASD may behave, communicate, learn and interact in ways that are different than neurotypical individuals. In addition, the abilities of individuals with ASD can widely vary.
COMMUNICATION AND INTERACTION
Social skills can be challenging for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Avoids or does not respond to eye contact
Does not respond to name by 9 months
Does not show facial expressions (happy, sad, angry etc) by 9 months
Uses few or no gestures by 12 months of age
Does not point or look at what you point to by 18 months of age
Shows little interest in peers
RESTRICTED OR REPETITIVE BEHAVIORS
Individuals with ASD often have behaviors and interests that can differ from neurotypical individuals
Repeats words/phrases over and over
Gets upset by minor changes
Has obsessive interests
Unusual reactions to sensory input
Lines up toys or other objects
Unusual mood or emotional regulation
Hyperactive and/or inattentive behavior
Delayed cognitive skills
Delayed movement skills
Delayed language skills
Unusual eating and sleeping habits
WHEN TO GET YOUR CHILD EVALUATED FOR AUTISM
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that all children be screened for autism around 18-24 months.
If you are concerned your child may have ASD, speak to your pediatrician about receiving a full evaluation. These evaluations can be done by a neurologist, behavior pediatrician or psychiatrist. If your child is diagnosed with autism, speak to your doctor about your child's individualized treatment plan.